Amazon Targets Businesses With WorkMail Cloud Service

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Amazon challenges Microsoft and Google with the launch of an email service aimed at businesses

Watch out Microsoft Office 365 – e-commerce giant Amazon is launching a business oriented cloud email service called WorkMail.

Amazon says WorkMail is a secure, managed business email and calendaring service with support for existing desktop and mobile email clients. This means that companies can continue to keep their existing email clients such as Microsoft Outlook.

Corporate Email

WorkMail is being offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), and signals Amazon’s intention to grow its position in the corporate heartland where big name players such as Microsoft and Google are also competing.

IBM is also present here after it announced last year a service called Verse, its new enterprise email solution that brings together Big Blue’s cloud, analytics, social and security technologies in a slick collaborative environment.

awsssDespite the fact then the corporate email environment is a relatively crowded sector, Amazon believes it can make a difference, and is stressing WorkMail’s simplicity, privacy and security.

“Customers are not happy with their current email solution,” Adam Selipsky, marketing VP for Amazon Web Services, told the Wall Street Journal in an interview. “A lot of customers feel those solutions are expensive and complex.”

So with WorkMail, business users can still carry on using Microsoft Outlook or other familiar email clients, or indeed popular web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. They can also use any mobile device that supports the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol, including iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire, Fire Phone, Android, and Windows Phone.

WorkMail also integrates with an existing corporate directory. Amazon provides its own “back-end” technology in its own data centres to power the WorkMail offering.

Privacy And Security

Amazon has realised in these days of industrial espionage and snooping by intelligence agencies, privacy and security are also big concerns. To that end, WorkMail encrypts all messages and customers will control the encryption keys.

Whether that will be enough to stop agencies like the NSA from requesting Amazon to hand over data, remains to be seen. But Amazon points out that data can be stored in a customer designated geographic region.

Amazon says WorkMail will cost $4 (£2.64) per user per month, similar to the prices charged by Google Apps for Work and Microsoft’s Office 365 service. It is worth noting however that the Google and Microsoft services also include capabilities other than email. Amazon WorkMail also includes 50GB of storage per user.

Amazon’s entry to the corporate email market could prove interesting, but some experts believe that email may be a tough market for Amazon to crack.

“It’s an interesting move for Amazon, because the cloud email space is dominated by two very big players: Microsoft and Google,” TJ Keitt, a senior analyst with industry-research firm Forrester was quoted by the WSJ as saying. “[Amazon’s] ability to make a dent here is still very much up in the air.”

Think you are clued up on Amazon Web Services? Try our quiz!