Google will add e-mail security, compliance, and recovery services to Google Apps Premier edition at no extra charge, boosting an area of this hosted communications and collaboration suite that is key for its adoption by large organizations.
The services -- from Postini, which Google acquired last month -- include e-mail controls for Apps Premier administrators such as configurable spam and virus filtering; setting and management of usage policies; and recovery of deleted messages.
The Postini services will be available on Wednesday in the English-language version of Apps Premier and next month in the international version, available in 27 languages.
Apps Premier competes against traditional, on-premise communication and collaboration suites, such as IBM's Lotus Notes/Domino and Microsoft's Office and Exchange, both of which are generally considered to be more powerful and sophisticated but also pricier.
Google argues that its Apps Premier's Web-hosted architecture, in which Google houses the software in its datacenters, saves customers from having to install and maintain it, different from rival products. Google also touts Apps Premier's capabilities for letting users share documents and collaboratively edit them.
However, Apps Premier is far from being the only option for hosted collaboration and communication suites. Other well-known ones include Cisco Systems' WebEx WebOffice, Zoho, and Zimbra, which Yahoo is in the process of acquiring.
Prior to its acquisition by Google, Postini offered these services as add-ons to Apps Premier edition for an additional fee.
By bundling these Postini services at no extra charge, Google makes clear how serious it is about extending Apps Premier's adoption beyond small and medium-size companies, an analyst said.
"This shows Google is willing to sacrifice revenue opportunities in exchange for [enterprise] market share," said Matt Cain, a Gartner analyst.
More than half a million organizations have signed up for Google Apps, which translates into "millions" of active end-users, according to Google. However, few customers are large companies, which make up the so-called enterprise IT market.
Having "first-class spam and anti-virus filtering" such as Postini's is mandatory in the enterprise, along with compliance and recovery capabilities, Cain said.
Apps Premier has had spam and anti-virus filtering features in Gmail, but the Postini technology is sharper and more sophisticated, and should offer a marked improvement for current users, Cain said.
The ability to centrally set and manage usage policies lets administrators add footers to every message and block messages with specific keywords or attachments.
They can also create policies that apply to user groups or individuals, and monitor all e-mail communications for compliance auditing purposes. Regarding restoration of messages, administrators can recover e-mails in the last 90 days.