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Also posted on: The Norfolk Punt
I’ve never been madly keen on Exchange, ever since I found out how big an apparently small message might really be – after Exchange had hidden all the stuff (and copies of the message in different formats) that one “didn’t need to see”. Probably a mis-configuration issue, but these are really too easy. And I get a lot of private messages sent to me in error, on a continuing basis (even after I point out the data protection implications); as far as I can see this is because Exchange hides the actual destination behind a simple nickname such as “David”. “User error” again, but too easy.
So, I use GMail. Works well, and I mostly like it, but I hate being locked into Google almost as much as I hate being locked into Microsoft! So, I was interested when AWS announced Amazon WorkMail (you can download a preview here), a secure, managed cloud-based business email and calendaring service. There is nothing really terribly wrong with Gmail or even (let’s face it) with Exchange, configured properly – but choice is always good for Freedom.
According to Mark Kitchell, Analyst Relations Manager, EMEA, for Amazon Web Services, Amazon WorkMail is a straightforward Exchange replacement: “Amazon WorkMail users can share and collaborate on documents using Amazon WorkDocs (formerly Amazon Zocalo) from within Amazon WorkMail. With regards to differentiators, we heard from customers that managing the infrastructure required to operate this mission critical service adds cost and licensing complexity and that multi-year enterprise agreements limit their flexibility and their ability to innovate and create customer value. Existing cloud email services may help with some of these problems, but they either don’t offer the security features businesses require (like strong encryption key management and full control over data location), don’t integrate with existing corporate directories or don’t support popular Microsoft Outlook features like shared calendaring. Customers also told us that they want an email service that seamlessly integrates with their AWS investments”.
I note that WorkMail claims to provide stronger security than its widely-available alternatives (there are plenty of specialist highly-secure email solutions, of course) and, just as important from a governance point of view, customers can control the location of their data, and WorkMail integrates with the AWS Key Management Service (key management can be a significant issue with email security).
If you want to know more about WorkMail, its Blog is here. More choice is good and if WorkMail reproduces the Exchange user experience, but improves it, adopting it might prove less disruptive than a move to GMail.