AWS WorkMail Generally Available, But Still Far From Threatening Microsoft Exchange And Google Gmail

After nearly a year in preview, Amazon Web Services on Monday generally released Amazon WorkMail, its cloud-based email and calendaring solution that's making a play for the large base of hosted email customers owned by Microsoft and Google.

WorkMail aims to differentiate itself with security and control features. The enterprise-grade email, compatible with Microsoft Outlook and other popular email clients, allows users to choose encryption keys, select the location in which they want their data to reside and pay only for the mailboxes they create.

While Seattle-based Amazon has been shoring up the product and developing its market since its introduction in January 2015, several partners told CRN that adoption has been sluggish, and WorkMail is a long way from threatening Google Gmail or Microsoft Office 365 Exchange in the category.

[Related: Amazon Web Services Takes Aim At Microsoft With New Cloud Email Service]

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WorkMail was designed to work in data-rich, email-intensive environments. It provides room for 50 gigabytes of messages and attachments in each inbox, and individual messages can consume up to 30 megabytes of storage, wrote Jeff Barr, AWS' chief evangelist, on the company's blog.

The touted security features include location controls; encryption of stored data using KMS keys; encryption key management with S/MIME or SSL; message scanning for malware, spam and viruses; and policies and mobile device management features by which administrators can impose security restrictions and remotely wipe devices.

WorkMail is compatible with Microsoft's Active Directory, allowing users to sign in through their Outlook clients with their current corporate credentials. The service can also be accessed through a Web client on most popular browsers, and works with any mobile device that supports Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol.

Aater Suleman, CEO of Flux7, an AWS partner based in Austin, Texas, said he's seeing the email solution come up more frequently in conversations with customers, especially those that are less technically inclined.

Flux7 recently signed a deal with a prestigious New York law firm that wants to eliminate desktops and company-owned laptops, Suleman said.

The firm implemented a bring-your-own-device policy and will be using AWS WorkSpaces going forward as its primary desktop equipment, he told CRN.

"Having a secure, cloud-based email is central to such a transformation," Suleman said. "The law firm will be able to eliminate an expensive support contract with a local firm, enable removal of employees, and offer a more secure, auditable and defensible system than before."

Barr noted that since the preview release, AWS has added new features, including a simplified setup process through Simple AD, regional data control, support for more clients -- including Apple Mail -- and a tool to migrate existing inboxes.