Google buying into enterprise services

Will Google's acquisition of Postini mean government business?

With the $625 million purchase of spam filter provider Postini, Google has added another tool to its collection of online office applications, which could bring the company closer to providing hosted services on an enterprise level.

But to make a dent in enterprise markets, including government accounts, Google 'must prove that [Google Apps] meet stringent enterprise requirements for security, reliability, availability and compliance,' said Chenxi Wang, principal analyst of security and risk management at Forrester Research.

Filling the gap

Google has shown that it has a handle on reliability and availability of services but has needed stronger security and compliance capabilities, which led to the Postini acquisition, Wang said. Another capability Google doesn't have ' but could add through another acquisition ' is data leakage prevention, which corporate and government clients need for identifying and tracking the flow of sensitive data, Wang said.

Google intends to add the Postini services ' which include a wide range of data security and policy compliance capabilities ' to its corporate-oriented Google Apps family of hosted applications introduced in February. The company plans to offer a range of industrial-strength security, archiving, encryption and policy enforcement features for large organizations.

To date, most of Google's new clients have been small businesses. Bigger organizations are interested in the services, too, but they have more complex security needs.

This factor was in part responsible for the Postini acquisition, said Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager at Google Enterprise.

Checking the mail

Postini also gives Google more presence in the business world, according to analysts.

As one of the most successful vendors of e-mail filtering services, Postini manages 11 million mailboxes for 35,000 organizations, including both large and small businesses, according to a report on the deal by market research firm Gartner.

At least 400 to 500 of the organizations are affiliated with the government in one way or another, a Postini spokesman said.

'We've seen a significant amount of interest from large businesses as well, and this is one of the things driving our acquisition of Postini,' he said.
Google officials said Postini's use in the federal government has been limited,
but at least one agency, the Federal Aviation Administration, has considered using Google's on-demand applications (GCN.com/811).

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