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Amazon Takes On Microsoft, Google With WorkMail For Businesses 65

alphadogg writes Amazon Web Services today launched a new product to its expansive service catalog in the cloud: WorkMail is a hosted email platform for enterprises that could wind up as a replacement for Microsoft and Google messaging systems. The service is expected to cost $4 per user per month for a 50GB email inbox. It's integrated with many of AWS's other cloud services too, including its Zocalo file synchronization and sharing platform. The combination will allow IT shops to set up a hosted email platform and link it to a file sharing system.
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Amazon Takes On Microsoft, Google With WorkMail For Businesses

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  • My top priorities for email service are quality of spam filtering, support for unlimited aliases, search, and rules. I think labels work better than folders for categorization. I have not found any Amazon documentation which addresses these issues.

    • Privacy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2015 @09:12PM (#48928925) Homepage Journal

      My top priorities for email service are quality of spam filtering, support for unlimited aliases, search, and rules. I think labels work better than folders for categorization. I have not found any Amazon documentation which addresses these issues.

      My top priority is privacy.

      Does their service have built-in encryption, such that they cannot decrypt the message contents?

      I can do spam filtering, searching, and other rule-based operations on my home system. What I *can't* do locally is prevent others from sticking their noses in my business.

      Whether it be my ISP adding ads to the data stream for goods and services I might be interested in, or the website provider tailoring ads for goods and services that might be of interest to me, or my home country looking for perceived criminal activity, or someone *else's* country looking to steal corporate secrets or leverage me into forced compliance, or any of a number of other reasons.

      Of late I'm actually pretty interested in the privacy aspect.

      How high up on your list of priorities is privacy?

      • Re:Privacy (Score:4, Informative)

        by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2015 @09:20PM (#48928967)

        My top priorities for email service are quality of spam filtering, support for unlimited aliases, search, and rules. I think labels work better than folders for categorization. I have not found any Amazon documentation which addresses these issues.

        My top priority is privacy.

        Does their service have built-in encryption, such that they cannot decrypt the message contents?

        Not if you want server side search. Though you have to trust AWS with the plain text at some time since every mail server and client has to hand the message over in plain text (it may come in over an encrypted tunnel, but it needs to be decrypted by their mailservers).

        If you really don't trust anyone with your email, tell everyone that emails you to encrypt everything with your public key, then you can decrypt the messages on an airgapped computer when you're ready to read them.

        • Re:Privacy (Score:5, Informative)

          by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday January 28, 2015 @09:52PM (#48929123) Homepage Journal

          Though you have to trust AWS with the plain text at some time since every mail server and client has to hand the message over in plain text (it may come in over an encrypted tunnel, but it needs to be decrypted by their mailservers).

          No, it doesn't. S/MIME, PGP-mail, etc. Of course that only works if the party you're e-mailing can also use client-side e-mail encryption.

          Google is working on enabling OpenPGP-encrypted e-mail for Gmail with a Chrome extension: https://github.com/google/end-... [github.com]

          • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

            Though you have to trust AWS with the plain text at some time since every mail server and client has to hand the message over in plain text (it may come in over an encrypted tunnel, but it needs to be decrypted by their mailservers).

            No, it doesn't. S/MIME, PGP-mail, etc. Of course that only works if the party you're e-mailing can also use client-side e-mail encryption.

            And how close to you think the internet is to ubiquitous client side encryption? Oh, right.

            You might as well speculate how secure mail would be if it were personally delivered by unicorns.

            • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

              Though you have to trust AWS with the plain text at some time since every mail server and client has to hand the message over in plain text (it may come in over an encrypted tunnel, but it needs to be decrypted by their mailservers).

              No, it doesn't. S/MIME, PGP-mail, etc. Of course that only works if the party you're e-mailing can also use client-side e-mail encryption.

              And how close to you think the internet is to ubiquitous client side encryption? Oh, right.

              You might as well speculate how secure mail would be if it were personally delivered by unicorns.

              I'll add that the OP could use S/MIME and/or PGP right now with any mail provider (as I said in my original reply), at the expense of server side searching (which is one of the best things about Gmail -- I can search years of mail archives instantly)... all he has to do is convince everyone he corresponds with to do the same. Oh, and zealously protect his private key.

              • Sure, you've been able to use S/MIME or PGP for years. I used to use S/MIME religiously. Adoption is, of course, the big obstacle. Maybe encouragement from Google will help to make it less of a niche, geeky thing. I'm not holding my breath, but it isn't inconceivable.
          • Google is working on enabling OpenPGP-encrypted e-mail for Gmail with a Chrome extension: https://github.com/google/end- [github.com]...

            Or you can have it on Firefox right now with enigmail. Or well, you could. Maybe it doesn't work any more. I had nobody to exchange encrypted email with, so I no longer have it installed.

            • by swb ( 14022 )

              I had nobody to exchange encrypted email with, so I no longer have it installed.

              This is the biggest problem. I have two friends, both technology savvy (one works in IT, in healthcare, so is very familiar with encryption) and both are conspiracy savvy, too.

              I got both of them using PGP at one point, fully integrated with whatever email client they were using but couldn't get either one to sustain use of it, despite both of them fully aware of the NSA, surveillance, etc.

              Maybe they just don't like me, but if ge

            • Google is working on enabling OpenPGP-encrypted e-mail for Gmail with a Chrome extension: https://github.com/google/end- [github.com]...

              Or you can have it on Firefox right now with enigmail. Or well, you could. Maybe it doesn't work any more. I had nobody to exchange encrypted email with, so I no longer have it installed.

              Yup, that is the issue. I'm weakly hopeful that having Google behind it will encourage wider use. Weakly.

        • Though you have to trust AWS with the plain text at some time since every mail server and client has to hand the message over in plain text (it may come in over an encrypted tunnel, but it needs to be decrypted by their mailservers).

          Huh, I didn't know that.

          If figured that the message body and subject text could be encrypted separately from the routing (and other) header information.

          Today, I learned.

      • Re:Privacy (Score:4, Informative)

        by HTMLSpinnr ( 531389 ) on Thursday January 29, 2015 @12:29AM (#48929745) Homepage
        Amazon's Press Release (well, blog post rather) suggests that data is encrypted at-rest. Excerpt from https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/a... [amazon.com]

        WorkMail Security Controls Let’s talk about security for a bit. WorkMail includes a number of security features and controls that will allow it to meet the needs of many types of organizations. Here’s an overview of some of the most important features and controls:

        Location Control – The WorkMail administrator can choose to create mailboxes in any supported AWS region. All mail and other data will be stored within the region and will not be transferred to any other region. During the Preview, WorkMail will be supported in the US East (Northern Virginia) and Europe (Ireland) regions, with more to follow over time.

        S/MIME – Data in transit to and from Outlook clients and certain iPhone and iPad apps is encrypted using S/MIME. Data in transit to other clients is encrypted using SSL.

        Stored Data Encryption – Data at rest (messages, contacts, attachments, and metadata) is encrypted using keys supplied and managed by KMS ( https://aws.amazon.com/kms/ [amazon.com] ).

        Message Scanning – Incoming and outgoing email messages and attachments are scanned for malware, viruses, and spam.

        Mobile Device Policies & Actions – The WorkMail administrator can selectively require encryption, password protection, and automatic screen locking for mobile devices. The administrator can also remotely wipe a lost or mislaid mobile device if necessary.

        Sounds like it has the makings of a usable service.

      • It looks like they support encrypting all the stored messages using your security keys, so there is that. From the description: "Stored Data Encryption – Data at rest (messages, contacts, attachments, and metadata) is encrypted using keys supplied and managed by KMS."
      • by Jawnn ( 445279 )

        How high up on your list of priorities is privacy?

        Top of the list. Has to be, for compliance reasons. Right behind that is an archiver that would also pass muster under those same rules. Aparently, no one wants to sell a "cloud" solution that includes those things.

    • My top priority is being able to have Thunderbird connect to the mail server. I much prefer having my email local, rather than in "the cloud".
    • by lucm ( 889690 )

      I gave up on built-in spam filtering a long time ago. Instead I route email thru a cloud antispam provider. It's super cheap and very convenient.

    • by CBravo ( 35450 )
      Although I don't agree with you... Spamfiltering means you need data (from a large number of users). Not having free accounts means much less abuse data. Their service will not be as good.
    • support for unlimited aliases

      I really REALLY wish gmail had this. Or at least 10 aliases if not unlimtied. yeah, you can create multiple accounts, but their integration on Google is terrible. I would pay for this.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    WorkFemail

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I mean, when they get FISA/NSL/BS letter to search my company's R&D emails so they can steal my technology or commit insider trading... but my non-US company is hosted on non-US Amazon AWS, will they still acquiesce to their request?

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

      I mean, when they get FISA/NSL/BS letter to search my company's R&D emails so they can steal my technology or commit insider trading... but my non-US company is hosted on non-US Amazon AWS, will they still acquiesce to their request?

      Yes, they will.

  • everything else seems to be

  • Amazon is amazing. Gets patent for one-click. Gets oodles of money from the investors. Can do amazing things like tracking packages and deliver fresh produce. But it feigns inability to calculate local taxes. It drove the booksellers out of business.

    But what is most amazing is that it does not seem to have made any profits yet.

    • by lucm ( 889690 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2015 @10:51PM (#48929353)

      This is actually by design. Their model is not profit, it's growth and innovation. It's a new economy where the balance sheet is becoming less and less a key factor for large corporations, and for the most part shareholders are ok with it because investments are made in the short term and the skyrocketing share price is more attractive than actual equity or dividends.

      I'm not saying I agree, just that this is not by mistake that they don't make a profit.

  • by cetialphav ( 246516 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2015 @10:49PM (#48929339)

    Here is the link [amazon.com] to Amazon's official announcement so you don't have to go through the networkworld article.

    It is notable that this is not just about email as it also supports many of the other features offered by Outlook like calendaring, tasks, etc. It also works with existing Outlook and ActiveSync clients so it is easy for an enterprise to start using it.

    As I'm not an administrator of mail systems, I would like to hear from some experts about how the features Amazon has introduced today compare to the existing enterprise offerings.

    • As long as we're linking to official announcements of business-targeted e-mail systems, I should mention IBM Verse [ibm.com]. (disclaimer: I work for IBM. I do not speak for IBM.)
  • How about IMAP support that doesn't completely suck?

    o365 is such a huge POS.

  • Looks Good I wanna try this. Querease [querease.com]

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