As I sat in a presentation this morning on email retention requirements I decided there was no time like the present to look more closely at our own email archiving solution. As part of their Apps for Education, Google offers free integration of basic Postini services including spam and viral quarantine and reporting (Google purchased Postini a couple years ago).
Postini's basic services include common footers on user emails, different security policies for multiple user groups, utilization reports by user group, and enhanced spam and virus filtering. Users even get a quarantine report every day so they never miss important emails that might be placed incorrectly in their spam folders. All quite useful for the low, low price of free with Edu Apps.
Where Postini gets far cooler, though, is when you actually pay for their archiving services. At $11/user/year for 10 years of archiving, pricing is aggressive (these are their educational prices, by the way; corporate prices are a bit higher), particularly considering the user-friendliness of the service. As users sat around me today talking about how difficult it is to access their own email archives, I broke out the Postini archive administration console for our domain. I only searched for my own emails to maintain some reasonable privacy for my other users, but easy searches by user, subject, date ranges, inbound vs. outbound vs. internal mail, and file attachments are all a piece of cake.
No muss, no fuss, just brutally easy message discovery. So easy, in fact, that I'm glad we have a district policy in place limiting access and clearly specifying the circumstances under which we'd use this really easy message discovery. I'm also glad, though, that I have the service instead of having to dig through the text file dumps that our previous archiving service recently provided for us, or the unreadable, proprietary magnetic tapes about which other districts were talking at the conference today.
Google Apps for Education sells itself in a lot of ways for those willing to put a bit of faith in the cloud. However, the integrated Postini archiving solution is competitive on price, beats many services and appliances on features, and is transparent to users and administrators. It's just one more reason I'm still happy we've "gone Google".