AWS WorkMail.. Is it the beginning of a new series of AWS Services ?

By Siegfried Lautenbacher Jan 29, 2015
AWS WorkMail.. Is it the beginning of a new series of AWS Services ?

Yesterday AWS announced (but not yet launched ) an e-mail service for enterprises called WorkMail. It’s fully compatible with the feature-set of Exchange. It’s rather an e-mail backbone for mail - clients like Outlook and Mac OS X, iOS and Android native mail and calendar apps. Complimentarily it offers a web-mail interface in the browser. It has integrated enterprise team calendaring and scheduling, including also resource/room reservations. And it has integrated antivirus/anti-spam filtering.

Together with the announcement, AWS renamed it’s file store and sync service Zocalo to AWS WorkDocs. This suggests clearly WorkDocs and WorkMail to be used together: one to store, sync and share documents arriving as attachments and the other to send links instead of sending attachments around. The price is market-aligned $4 per user and month for 50GB WorkMail or $6 for additional 200GB of WorkDocs.

So, where's the beef? Isn't it  YAES (yet another e-mail service)?

At first glance the announcement seems to target Microsoft with Exchange/Office365, but in fact it’s rather annoying for IBM and Google. The announcement was made during IBMs ConnectED (formerly Lotusphere), the yearly event for collaboration and e-mail. It’ll be difficult for AWS to compete with "addicted" Microsoft customers, but it might be easy to convince "reluctant" Domino customers to switch over some users to their modern WorkMail.

WorkMail will also be very interesting for enterprises who have made experiences with Google Apps (= Gmail for Enterprise) and which are worried (or forced by enterprise compliance policies) to care about index, search, commercial re-selling of content, jurisdiction of data storage.

Furthermore some companies could be attracted by AWS simple yet professional  mail service since they may perceive the "intelligent" services like Microsoft’s Graph, IBM Verse or Google Inbox as weird tutelage of experienced e-mails users.

AWS WorkMail addresses all those topics, as it comes as an no-frills alternative to continue the loved, old Exchange/ Outlook E-Mail without disruptions. The most important USP for AWS’ offerings is the control and guarantee that no data leaves the AWS region where it has been created, unless the customer moves it actively. This means, if a company configures WorkMail in AWS region eu-central-1 (Frankfurt), all data, incoming and outgoing mail processing is done in Frankfurt. This looks very different from Google, Microsoft Office365 or IBM SmartCloud.

 AWS has an extremely scalable cloud service for handling millions of encryption/decryption key requests per second, called AWS Key Management Service. Through this service, a company can create individual encryption keys for each mail user — or, even better, import their own, generated and managed on-premises. It’s like a key system of a facility/office, where the customer himself is the owner of the key system and gives copies of the keys to a security guard for handling the security checks. A company can provide its keys, with which its data will be encrypted, to AWS Key Management System, where they are used to encrypt/decrypt e-mails and calendar entries. If AWS WorkMail will also use AWS Key Management Service to deliver encrypted e-mail to the addressee/receiver this would be a strong differentiator from Microsoft, IBM and Google. And last but not least: if this is S/MIME-based, it could solve decade-long privacy issues of business e-mails in the internet.

Considering what is happening this quarter with Lync, a.k.a Skype (SaaS) and Skype for Business (new name for Lync servers), we wouldn’t be surprised at all to see AWS working on AWS WorkPhone, AWS WorkChat, AWS WorkVideopresence or AWS WorkConference offerings.