Google Postini shutdown – myth versus reality

Google recently announced the shutdown of Postini email filtering service. The 26 million Postini users will be forced to migrate to Google Apps starting 2013. This announcement from Google has caused a lot of confusion in the market place. Here are some myths versus reality on this news.

Myth #1 – Google Postini service is being migrated to Google Apps.

Reality – Google is in fact shutting down Postini service and customers that want to continue to receive email security from Google will be forced to migrate to Google Apps which has an integrated email filtering service. The new email filtering service is functionally limited when compared with Postini. Google claims that some of the missing features are in their roadmap while many of the key features like per user spam settings, administrative access to end user quarantine, and advanced reporting have been dropped.

Myth #2 – Postini customers running their own email servers like Microsoft Exchange will be forced to migrate to Gmail.

Reality – Google apps will support non-Gmail mail servers like Microsoft Exchange and users will be able to keep their existing email servers. But there is a technical limitation customers need to be aware of. The Postini email security service ran in proxy mode or “Fail-safe proxy mode” as coined by Postini, where the transmitted email is not written to disk. This process provided customers better data integrity and performance. Google Apps moves away from this architecture and uses store-and-forward method which Google Postini had originally discredited in their white paper.

Myth #3 – Migration from Postini service to Google Apps will be manual and cumbersome.

Reality – Google has posted the availability of some automated tools to facilitate the migration of comparable features, but customers should anticipate many manual configuration tasks including switching the MX-record. Google’s customer phone support has been limited in the past and customers should be wary of this when going through a major migration.

In summary, Google Postini customers will be forced to migrate to a new email security service and will need to make a decision if they want to migrate to Google Apps or an alternate service. For customers interested in the Google Apps platform which includes Gmail, Calendar, and Drive, and are willing to settle for the reduced email filtering functionality Google Apps offers, the migration to Google Apps might be appropriate. But for other customers who intend to stay with their current email service such as Microsoft Exchange it might be time to evaluate alternate email security solutions.

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About the Author: Swarup Selvaraman