Amazon announces WorkMail general availability

The AWS corporate email service is now generally available after a year-long preview, with 50GB of storage available for $4 per month.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Amazon has announced that it is opening up its corporate cloud-based email and calendar service to general availability almost a year after first announcing WorkMail.

In a blog post by Amazon Web Services (AWS) chief evangelist Jeff Barr on Monday, Amazon said the preview mode has now finished, with the service generally available in three AWS regions.

"I first wrote about Amazon WorkMail last year when we made it available in preview form. At the time, I noted that Amazon WorkMail is a managed calendaring and email solution that runs in the cloud and works with your existing desktop and mobile clients," Barr said.

"WorkMail's security features and controls ... include location control, encryption of stored data, message scanning for spam and virus protection, and policies and actions for controlling mobile devices.

"I am happy to be able to announce that Amazon WorkMail is now generally available in three AWS regions: US East (Northern Virginia), US West (Oregon), and Europe (Ireland)."

WorkMail was built as a native back-end support solution for Microsoft Outlook on Windows and Mac OS X, and is able to integrate with several existing corporate directories, including Microsoft Active Directory. Mailboxes can also be synced with iOS, Android, Amazon Fire, and Windows Phone devices using the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol.

Amazon peddled the fact that IT departments in businesses using WorkMail would not need to worry about or pay for additional hardware, software, licenses, patches, or upgrades to the system, with customers only paying for the mailboxes they created. IT is still able to control device encryption, locks, password requirements, and remote wipe systems through the AWS Management Console, however.

According to Barr, AWS added more security-focused features to Amazon WorkMail during the preview, including integration with AWS Key Management Service in order to create and manage keys to encrypt data at rest; regional data control; migration tools to move from existing email accounts to Amazon WorkMail; more efficient setup; resource creation tools; support for OS X clients, such as Apple Mail and Outlook, as well as support for BlackBerry 10 devices.

Amazon WorkMail also attained ISO 27001, ISO 27017, and ISO 27018 certifications.

Barr added that AWS is working on interoperability support for address books and calendar information, as well as an "email journaling" archiving system.

All data is SSL-encrypted across Amazon WorkMail, with the service costing $4 per month for each user for 50GB of storage. Up to 25 users in a business can also access a 30-day free trial of the service.

"Customers have repeatedly asked us for a business email and calendaring service that is more cost-effective and simpler to manage than their on-premises solution, more secure than the cloud-based offerings available today, and that is backed by the same best-in-class infrastructure platform on which they're reliably running so many of their current -- and future -- workloads," vice president for AWS Compute Services Peter De Santis said when announcing the service in January 2015.

"We built Amazon WorkMail to address these requests and to help businesses achieve agility and cost savings by letting AWS manage the non-differentiated heavy lifting involved in corporate email and calendaring."

Amazon revealed the AWS unit had carried most of the company's profit for the 2015 fiscal year.

According to Pacific Crest analyst Brent Bracelin, however, AWS' profit margins may fall thanks to the business investing in moving into new regions.

"While AWS did not expand into any new regions during 2015, the company appears poised to add a record four new regions in 2016 across three new countries: The United Kingdom, India, South Korea, and a new Ohio region in the United States," Bracelin said in a research note.

"This should elevate capital expenditures, which could pressure operating margins ... Each region holds increasing importance, considering this year each region on average generates about $715 million of revenue. This average revenue per region has more than doubled in the past two years."

Amazon has yet to report its 2015 fourth-quarter results.

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