Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Google Postini Woes

About a year ago we set up a Google Postini account for client as a favour. The initial setup was not trivial and took longer than expected, but eventually we had it working fine.

The client's IT support company has convinced them to move to a web based hosted email solution which on the face of it sounds fine, until that is it comes to implementation.

It seems that the new provider also uses Postini for message filtering and they are not able to setup the account whilst the domain is still active within Postini. So we need to remove the domain from Google Postini - sounds simple.

However, there does not seem to be anywhere to cancel the Postini service for a domain. When you purchase the service from Postini they send you an email with a link to a CPanel for the domain, but never provide you a password for this, and the password reset mechanism does not work (disabled?).

OK, if we can't cancel the service, then we can just delete the domain from the Postini control panel. That is where the real problems start.

In order to delete the domain, you need to delete all the users associated with that domain. Unfortunately you cannot delete the user you use to login to Postini, so that does not work. I also managed to delete  the default user, pdefault@domain.com user which caused more problems later on. If you have a similar issue - don't delete this user!

After some head scratching we came up with the solution. Add another domain to Postini, that way we can keep a user with admin access, and then delete the domain. However, following our earlier attempt, we only had one user on the account, and no default user. You cannot assign this user as the default as Postini "pdefault@domain.com" for this user. Also without a default user you cannot create any more users, Postini returns the error "No default user available for organization".

I spent an hour or so trying to get the default user recreated in various different ways including hacking together some bulk upload scripts, but nothing was working. Eventually I stumbled across a post (can't remember where - sorry) stating that Postini actually only checks that the default user's email starts with "pdefault" and that you can change the email address of existing users.

From there it is plain sailing - just prefix the existing user with "pdefault_", assign it as the default user for all the organisations, create a new domain and a new default user, rename the existing user to admin@newdomain.com, and finally delete the old domain.

I sincerely hope this helps someone, as the online support is very thin on the ground and the solution not immediately obvious. Overall I am left with the impression that the Google Postini service is all a bit thrown together without anyone having thought through the various operational issues. After a year it does not seem to have improved at all, obviously not a priority for google, and we certainly won't be using it again.