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InfoQ Homepage News Amazon Releases Cloud-based Email and Calendaring Service

Amazon Releases Cloud-based Email and Calendaring Service

Last week, Amazon announced its cloud-based email and calendar service is now generally available. This release is a follow-up to the preview that was launched in January, 2015.

The service, known as Amazon WorkMail, is available in three AWS regions including US East (Northern Virginia), US West (Oregon) and Europe (Ireland).  Once the service has been provisioned within a specific region, customers do not need to be concerned about their data leaving that region. 

Organizations can integrate WorkMail with their Simple AD instance in order to leverage corporate directories when sending email to individuals or groups. Customers can also book resources such as meeting rooms and AV equipment using this service.

Data can be encrypted at rest and customers can use the AWS Key Management Service to create and manage keys used to encrypt and decrypt this data.  The service will also scan email for spam and malware.

Amazon is supporting a wide variety of email clients including:

  • Apple Mail
  • Outlook
  • Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync supported clients for
    • IPhone
    • IPad
    • Kindle Fire
    • Kindle Fire Phone
    • Android
    • Windows Phone
    • BlackBerry 10

In addition to these client mail applications, AWS will also be offering a web application where users can access their email from a web browser.

For customers looking to migrate off of their existing email system, such as Microsoft Exchange Server, they are able to take advantage of an Amazon WorkMail migration tool. However, customers should closely map their requirements with the new service as there are some gaps in the WorkMail service that organizations may not be accustomed to.  Jeff Barr, chief evangelist at Amazon Web Services, describes some of the features Amazon is currently looking to add: “we are working on interoperability support that will allow users of Amazon WorkMail to benefit from a single Global Address Book, and to access free/busy calendar information.” Another gap Amazon is looking to close is support for email archiving through a journaling service.

Amazon will face a lot of competition in the email and calendaring space with Microsoft and Google already having established cloud-based offerings.  An August 2015 Bitglass report positions Microsoft and Google as cloud email and productivity leaders: “Microsoft Office 365 adoption grew more than 300% to 25.2 percent of enterprises compared to just 7.7 percent last year. Even with the scale tipping towards Microsoft, Google is still growing its enterprise user base, up to 22.8 percent from 16.3 percent last year.”  It isn’t all bad news for Amazon though. Bitglass estimates “nearly half (48 percent) of enterprises are using cloud-based productivity and email suites” which still opens the door for Amazon to claim market share.

Amazon WorkMail costs $4 per month, per user and includes 50 GB of mailbox storage.  A 30-day free trial is also available.

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