Amazon is setting its sights on disrupting the corporate email market, currently dominated by Microsoft and Google.
Amazon WorkMail sounds like a easy sell to both users and IT managers. It will allow users to email, manage contacts, share calendars and book resources using their existing email applications such as Microsoft Outlook, a web browser or apps in iOS and Android – but remove the need to buy or manage servers or licences.
The email offering is provided by Amazon Web Services, a less visible part of the company than its e-commerce website, but one that has proved highly successful since Jeff Bezos set it up in 2006.
Peter De Santis, vice-president of AWS, which already counts the US defence department and the CIA as customers of its cloud computing business, said customers wanted a business email service that was cheaper and easier to manage than their existing provision, but more secure than other cloud-based offierings.
“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,” he said.
Amazon is charging $4 (£2.65) per user a month, which includes 50GB of storage per user, for WorkMail. There is also a free tier available for up to 12 months.
Ian Maude, analyst at Enders Analysis, said the move underlined Amazon’s determination. “There’s an arms race in cloud computing – these platforms are the foundations of the digital economy – and Amazon cannot afford to be left behind,” he said. “WorkMail’s email and calendars plus integration with WorkDocs extends Amazon’s offering for enterprises and is designed to lock in its customers as the company faces increasing competition in this space from the likes of Google and Microsoft.”
Amazon is competing with HP and IBM in the crowded cloud computing market. Doug Clark, cloud leader for IBM in the UK and Ireland, said on Thursday that a tipping point had been reached for some of the company’s clients, which include National Express, Reuters and Lufthansa.
“They have dabbled in the past and have done a few applications in the cloud, but now they are taking a strategic direction to go all in on the cloud,” he told V3.co.uk.
Amazon said in October that AWS had continued to expand strongly, with usage growth of close to 90% for the three months to September compared with the same period in 2013. It has more than 1m customers, from startups to government agencies, in 190 countries.
AWS operates data centres in Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Ireland, Japan and Singapore as well as the US . The newest, in Frankfurt, allows organisations that want to ensure their data resides inside Germany can do so.
Amazon reports its latest financial results after Wall Street closes on Thursday. Its shares were trading at $303.59, valuing the company at just under $140bn (£93bn). The stock has fallen by 21% in the past 12 months as investors fret about Amazon’s profitability even as sales continue to rise.
This article was written by Chris Johnston, for theguardian.com on Thursday 29th January 2015 16.11 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010