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Amazon email review: AWS WorkMail vs Gmail vs Outlook

Scott Carey | June 27, 2016
Amazon's WorkMail app is just like every other email service on the web

ComputerworldUK tests Amazon's WorkMail email app against Gmail and Outlook. Is AWS WorkMail the best webmail for your business?

Online email services are increasingly cheap and easy to set up for businesses that want to move their email into the cloud and keep employees connected when working on the move.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) entered the increasingly crowded market for cloud-based email at the beginning of 2015 with WorkMail - another expansion to its growing portfolio of enterpise software and services - before making it generally available to the EU region early in 2016.

With WorkMail, users can access their account through Microsoft Outlook, a native app in their web browser, or through the iOS and Android email applications.

But with a raft of well-established cloud email services already available, can AWS compete against the likes of Microsoft and Google? (For more on the best email provider for your business, see our piece: 8 best email providers for business 2016.)

AWS WorkMail: Features

WorkMail is very keen to promote its built in security features, which are in line with those of most AWS services. Encryption is managed through the AWS Key Management Service and all data is automatically encrypted "at rest" using your own encryption keys. Data in transit is encrypted using industry-standard SSL.

There is an easy-to-use option of deciding which region you would like your data stored in, which helps with latency and compliance concerns. 

These guarantees haven't stopped some commentators voicing concerns over how Amazon will handle your data for e-commerce purposes, or if asked to hand over communications by law enforcement. This is of particular concern as the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill passes through Parliament this year.

In comparison, Gmail offers similar encryption guarantees, some compliance certificates and admin tools for verification and access control. Outlook only offers enterprise-grade compliance and security features, such as encryption, from its E3 and E5 enterprise tiers and Microsoft doesn't automatically encrypt emails.

WorkMail is mobile optimised, with system admins having the ability to enforce device encryption, require that devices lock, specify password strength requirements, and wipe devices remotely using the AWS Management Console.

AWS WorkMail: Web client

The web client itself is very similar to that of rivals Gmail and Outlook.

The look and feel is extremely simple, with the usual inbox, outbox, sent and deleted items listed along the left hand side of the page. WorkMail more closely resembles Gmail than the feature-rich Outlook in this aspect, including a folder-based system for organising your inbox and tabs for calendar and contacts.

WorkMail naturally integrates with WorkDocs also, so that teams can collaborate on documents much like with Google Drive and Microsoft SharePoint. There is also an integrated calendar feature which is in line with the rival services.

 

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