To me, this acquisition does means a few things:
1) It clearly demonstrates Google’s intent to expand outside of its present role as a search engine or online media provider and into a more holistic role as a technology and media solutions provider.
2) It also expands Google’s access to the enterprise customer. Google has made its first fortune by selling paid ads adjacent to the volumes of consumer searches conducted on google.com. New Web features like Google News, Gmail and Google Checkout are also providing Google consumer data and additional outlets where they can sell ads. Postini now provides Google insight into enterprise email and perhaps ultimately ad space within the enterprise inbox.
3) This acquisition also indicates that Google intends to compete with Microsoft not just in the online media space, but also in Microsoft’s core business — enterprise applications and operating systems. Now, I don’t think this singular acquisition makes Google an instant competitor with incumbents like MS and IBM because there is such a legacy at enterprise organizations with these firms.
But talking about enterprise applications and the competitors in the security space is a little outside of my interactive marketing purview. My Forrester colleagues dedicated to Security and Risk Management professionals, also covered the Google/Postini announcement yesterday. For folks interested in what this acquisition means from the security side, Forrester principal analyst Chenxi Wang explains:
"Google is definitely looking to strengthen all angles for their enterprise Apps. Enterprise customers typically have stringent demands on security, reliability, performance, etc. Google has the other operational aspects well covered with the exception of security. I talked to Google today and they acknowledged that not having solid security offerings is somewhat a road block for them in the enterprise market. That’s why they bought Greenborders and that’s why they are acquiring Postini. Is this the right move for Google, absolutely! Postini has 30,000 customers, Google’s enterprise App customers hardly overlaps with that list of 30,000. So Google gains access to Postini’s customers, and they will try to migrate them to Google Apps.
Postini’s offering, billed as compliance and archiving/e-discovery, is primarily an in the cloud provider for anti-spam, anti-virus, email content filtering services, which by the way also provides archiving and compliance-oriented content filtering. The anti-spam and anti-virus services are almost commoditized, and make it very easy to have in-the-cloud services. Google is buying Postini’s secure email services, first and foremost. They are not buying Postini for their compliance offerings, trust me. Secure email services are a business necessity."