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Google Offers Gmail Protection for Microsoft Exchange

Google announced an e-mail continuity service on Thursday, describing it as a fail-safe measure should an organization's premises-based Microsoft Exchange servers go down.

The new Google Message Continuity service offers additional assurances for organizations running Microsoft Exchange 2003 or Exchange 2007, according to Google's announcement. The service is part of the company's Postini product line, which provides e-mail security in the company's Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) subscription-based service. GAPE consists of a suite of services, including Google Docs, Gmail and other hosted applications, priced at $50 per user per year.

The Google Message Continuity service uses a plug-in installed on the customer's premises to synchronize information between Google's cloud and Exchange. The traffic is initially filtered through the Google's Postini service, according to the announcement. Consequently, Google Message Continuity subscribers get the same Postini security, including antivirus, spam filtering, encryption and content policy controls. 

Upon Exchange server failure, users of Google Message Continuity can still access their e-mail through the browser-based Google Gmail interface. When the server is restored, messaging is kept up-to-date, because of Google's synchronization technology.

Google even suggested that Google Message Continuity can be used to transition off Exchange altogether. In such cases, IT pros won't be faced with carrying out a data migration step, Google suggests.

"If you decide to deploy Google Apps, you won't need to migrate any email data since Google Message Continuity will have already done so via synchronization," the announcement explains.

Google Message Continuity is priced at $25 per user per year for new users. Google's current Postini customers can get this service at a lower price -- $13 per user per year. That price would seem to apply to GAPE users, but it's not altogether clear from Google's announcement.

GAPE use constitutes less than one percent of the enterprise e-mail market, according to an August Gartner study, with Exchange being the market leader.

The announcement perhaps marks the second time that Google has offered a new service that helps organizations bypass Microsoft Exchange products. Last year, the company rolled out its Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook service, which lets users continue to use the familiar Microsoft Outlook user interface while connecting directly to Google's Gmail servers in the cloud. Google developed that service because many e-mail users are already accustomed to using the Microsoft Outlook user interface.

Meanwhile, Microsoft noted this week that its newest messaging server, Exchange 2010, just passed its first year since product launch. Microsoft claims that its markets for Exchange are continuing to expand.

"In enterprises with over 500 PC's, Exchange is, by far, the most widely used business email. For example, in the US, UK, and Australia, well over 70% of enterprises primarily use Exchange," a Microsoft blog states. The blog claims that more than 12 percent of large companies in the United States and Canada have upgraded to Exchange 2010.

An industry study, announced in late April and sponsored by Microsoft partner Azaleos, found that 44 percent of 150 surveyed organizations planned to migrate to Microsoft Exchange 2010 in the next 18 months.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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