Google’s acquisition of on-demand security platform provider Postini

All good things have got to end. And in July 2007 search engine giant google, which has consistently surprised investors with an ability to generate cash – and mountains of it – from Internet ventures, published its first results to fail to meet analysts’ profit expectations. But it was not all bad news for the company. Firstly, in its second quarter of 2007, Google earned more money from its Internet services than Microsoft did from its Windows platform – something of a watershed for the industry. And secondly, its acquisition of on-demand security platform provider Postini further established the company’s increasingly broad enterprise software-as-a-service platform as a credible alternative to the Windows franchise.

At first sight, the acquisition appeared out of character, as Postini is primarily associated with spam and virus filtering services for business email. Google’s GMail offering already includes a sophisticated spam filtering offering that enables users to identify and block spam-sending IP addresses.

However, the ambitions and capabilities of Postini stretch beyond simple email filtering into wholesale data security ‘in the cloud’. Ryan McIntyre of venture capitalist firm Mobius, which has backed Postini since 2001, says the company is “arguably among the first software-as-a-service infrastructure companies”.

Postini’s forward-thinking view of security as integral to the web, rather than something that happens at the end of a network connection, is perfectly matched to Google’s bid to replace desktop applications with hosted equivalents.

Writing in his blog, Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager of Google Enterprise, says that many businesses are prohibited from deploying “simple, useful” hosted applications due to security and compliance concerns. Postini offers the most complementary means by which to allay those concerns, says the search company.

Google will also continue to support Postini’s considerable customer-base of more than 10 million users spread across 35,000 businesses, effectively making it a new entrant into the enterprise security marketplace, which has in recent months attracted the heavyweight consolidation influence of big name technology providers.

It was oracle’s turn to strengthen its security portfolio in July with the acquisition of online identity fraud detection software vendor bhorosa – Oracle’s 32nd acquisition since 2005. The Bharosa technology line up will be integrated into Oracle’s Identity Management offering, and is intended to help customers meet the growing compliance obligations associated with trading on-line.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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