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Google’s recent changes to pricing and support services for Postini e-mail security products have left partners reeling and searching for more channel-friendly vendors for their customers’ e-mail security needs.

Google, which acquired Postini for $625 million in July 2007, said on Feb. 5 it was reorganizing its e-mail messaging security products into three new "Powered by Postini" offerings. It is also reducing prices for some of those offerings by as much as 90 percent 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, for year.

The packages will be part of Google Apps Premier Edition and will consist of Google Message Filtering, which will be available for $3 per user per year; Google Message Security, which will be priced at $12 per user per year; and Google Message Discovery for $25 per user per year.

Partners say the price cuts are yet another unfriendly move against Postini’s channel partners and that even before the acquisition closed last July, Postini’s direct sales force had been approaching customers directly.

"We’ve been working on a transition to [e-mail messaging security provider] MXLogic since September when Postini started going direct to our customers and undercutting our prices," said one former Postini partner based in California, who wished to remain anonymous. He added that while Postini had always maintained a direct sales force, it focused on larger midmarket and enterprise customers, and channel partners took care of SMB (small and midsize business) customers.

"Before, if the customers had less than 1,000 mailboxes, [Postini] didn’t want anything to do with them; that was our play," he said. He said that Postini then lowered the minimum number to 800 seats, and then lowered it again to 500, chipping away at his customer base.

"They kept lowering the bar, and it was clear the message they were trying to send," he said. "These were not huge accounts, but they were huge to us, and [we] realized the gloves [had] come off,’" he said. At that point, his company began looking for another vendor and is now in the process of moving to Postini competitor MXLogic.

Google announced the price cuts as well as a revamped customer support structure in a partner Webinar held Feb. 8, which partners say created more questions than answers. Partners who attended were told the information they received was confidential and proprietary and should not be disclosed.

However, one Postini partner based in Ohio, who requested anonymity, told Channel Insider his major gripe is that Google also has announced it will handle support and activation for Postini customers with more than 60 mailboxes, in effect cutting VARs like his company off at the knees. He said partners who have more than 60 mailboxes would be supported through Google’s call center, and that some customers who did not meet specific revenue targets would be pushed to "online support only.

"We want to drive value to our customers and we don’t think that providing support through a call center that Google maintains is the best way," he said. "I don’t see where the customers are going to gain much. Google is taking away the ability of the solution provider to support our clients due to the way the support structure is," he said, adding that his company is also considering transitioning its customer base over to MXLogic.

"We are definitely going to migrate away from Postini because of its lack of loyalty," he said. He said that Google hinted to him that once his company’s contract with Postini ran out, that it would not be renewed.

The California solution provider also said his company was receiving similar “hints.”

"We were trying for about three weeks to get in touch with them to set up a deal for a client for some of their other services and we got no response," he said. "After that long we started to feel like they were doing it on purpose, like that was some kind of strategic decision on their part," he said.

Postini officials were not immediately available for comment.

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Senior Writer Clint Boulton contributed to this article.