Google lures corporates with new email services

Google is moving to attract corporate users to Google Apps by stepping up its e-mail management services at no additional cost to paying customers.

The search giant is introducing e-mail controls and anti-spam protection, technology it acquired through the takeover of e-mail services supplier Postini three weeks ago.

The company is also offering the ability to route messages from other e-mail systems to its own service, potentially removing a roadblock for businesses that can’t move all employees to Google Apps at once.

Enterprises, which pay $50 a month per office worker for the Google Apps package of business software, e-mail and web services, will also get 25 GB of data storage each for no extra cost.

“This highlights the benefits of the software as a service model,” says Matthew Glotzbach, project manager for Google Enterprise, the business unit responsible for Google Apps.

“It is virtually unlimited [e-mail] storage for business users. This is hard to replicate with the Microsoft Exchange model of locally installed software.”

Glotzbach says the company has begun pilot projects delivering e-mail services to dozens of Fortune 1000 companies. The projects, which remain in the early stages, cover anywhere from hundreds to thousands of users, he claims.

“This is not a big bang announcement. This is sort of like a machine gun that doesn’t stop firing,” says Gartner analyst Tom Austin, describing Google’s strategy regarding its corporate customers.

Austin predicts that many organisations will wait until the next economic recession before abandoning the maintenance of their own e-mail systems and turning instead to companies like Google, Microsoft or Yahoo to deliver e-mail as a service.

“It is going to be take several years before major enterprises make big decisions about using e-mail as a service,” he adds. “I think we are at the beginning of a 10-year-cycle.”

Google has plans to encourage existing Postini customers to switch over to Google Apps through a promotional offer that expires in June 2008.

Postini counts 36,000 businesses and 11 million individual office workers as customers of its services.

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