Google's migration of e-mail security features from its Postini service into Google Apps is the first in a long-term plan to merge all of the Postini Google Message Security functions into the Google Apps security administration controls, a Google spokesperson confirms.
Postini security functions include antivirus protection, spam filtering, and content compliance.
Google will continue to offer Postini's Google Message Security as a standalone product to customers who aren't using Google Apps, the spokesman said.
The other main Postini services -- Message Discovery, Message Continuity and Message Encryption, for e-mail archiving, replication and compliance, respectively -- are not affected by Friday's announcement, the spokesman said.
Google Apps customers don't need to have a Postini license to take advantage of its e-mail security features in Apps, which will be offered at no extra charge, the Google spokesman said.
All Google Apps editions are free except the Business version, which costs US$50 per user for an annual license, or $5 per user per month without an annual commitment.
In the coming weeks, Apps administrators will see the first two Postini features being moved to the Apps management console: the Objectionable Content and Content Compliance e-mail security settings.
These two features are designed to let Apps administrators automatically flag e-mail messages that contain certain words, phrases and text or numerical patterns.
"Because these are built into the Google Apps infrastructure, admins will be able to use their existing user and organization structures set up for their domain to customize policies for different groups," wrote Adam Dawes, a Google enterprise product manager, in a blog post announcing the change.
The new e-mail security features will be made available to the Education, Business and Government editions of Apps, but not to its standard edition, which is limited to 10 users.
Now that Apps for Education is getting Postini features, Google will stop offering new K-12 school customers Postini's Google Message Security package.
Eventually, once Google Apps has a native set of e-mail security features comparable to the ones in Google Message Security, they will have to use the ones in Google Apps.
"Google Apps for Business and Google Apps for Government customers are welcome to try these new features but will not be required to transition until a later date next year," the blog post reads.
Analyst Rebecca Wettemann, from Nucleus Research, liked the move. "In principle, simplifying e-mail security policies is a good idea -- less work for administrators," she said via e-mail.
However, she cautioned, for K-12 Apps for Education customers, Google should explain the reason for the eventual migration from Postini.
Google needs to ensure those customers are "comfortable with the move and how they get there to avoid any unnecessary security risks," Wettemann said.