On January 4, Amazon announced that their WorkMail managed email and calendaring solution has reached general availability, which is nice for the folks who have been working on the project for the last year or so.
Amazon says that WorkMail works with existing desktop and mobile clients and can be delivered from AWS datacenters based in the U.S. and Ireland. The lack of availability from other regional datacenters will limit the potential for WorkMail in countries where data at rest is a huge concern.
Although Amazon promises that WorkMail is easy to set up and support, I forecast some problems in getting customers to accept that WorkMail is a real contender in the enterprise messaging market. Not much has changed since I last looked at the topic in April 2015 after Amazon announced that WorkMail was in preview. In particular, the lack of an ecosystem around WorkMail is likely to persist because Amazon isn’t well known for their ability to work with small partners.
In addition, Amazon has zero credibility or track record when it comes to running migrations. I accept that Amazon did some migrations to test their code as they brought WorkMail through to the finish line, but I have heard nothing on the grapevine (or through other more modern communication media) to indicate that the world of email is going to be impacted by WorkMail.
I have some real doubts about their ability to migrate anything but small Exchange deployments to their platform, not least because they have a dependency on the 32-bit versions of Outlook 2010 or 2013! Migration technology has moved on a tad since we required email clients to be installed on servers.
I doubt that either Microsoft or Google is quivering at the prospect that WorkMail will impact Exchange or Gmail. Some will no doubt try the technology, but without hybrid connectivity and the services of the Microsoft Onboarding Center, I don’t think that many who are considering moving from on-premises Exchange will select WorkMail over Office 365, even at the somewhat lower price point of $4 per user per month for a 50 GB mailbox.
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