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Postini competitors Proofpoint and MX Logic are seeing an influx of former Postini partners looking to join their channel programs.

Google announced it was reorganizing Postini’s e-mail messaging security products Feb. 5. It also announced that it was reducing prices for some of those offerings by as much as 90 percent, and to as little as $3 per user, per year. Previously, the products were offered via the channel for prices ranging from $30 per user per year to $100 per user per year.

Partners say the price cuts are another example of unfriendly moves Google has made against Postini’s channel partners since acquiring Postini in July 2007, including approaching customers directly and moving customer service and support from VAR partners’ hands to a Google-run call center and online support.  

Paul LaPorte, global solutions manager, Proofpoint, said his company has been fielding numerous calls from Postini partners looking for a comparable technology solution for their customers, though he could not disclose those partners’ names or their companies.

LaPorte said that Proofpoint was working to "rescue these partners" and make sure that their customers remained supported. Many partners told LaPorte that Google and Postini said they will do away with VARs’ existing quality-of-service SLAs (service level agreements) in favor of moving those customers to new service and support agreements with Google.

He said partners told him they were floored to learn that they would have to turn over customers or be forced to "end of life" their SLAs with customers, some of whom had been customers for years. "They spent time and money going out, building their businesses, making relationships and now they can’t get that back," he said.

Partners also told LaPorte they took no comfort in assurances from Google that their margins would remain the same.

"One partner said, ‘even if you keep the same margins on a deal, the revenue takes a nosedive! I can’t support my staff, my overhead, my marketing or anything if I have a 10 point margin on three dollars per user per year,’" LaPorte said.

Proofpoint director of market development Keith Crosley said that Proofpoint was confident its products could fill the gap left by Google, and was looking to recruit partners who could use the vendor’s comparable hosted e-mail security product, Proofpoint On-Demand, or Proofpoint’s messaging security gateway appliance.