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Amazon to launch email service

29 January 2015 Inc yesterday announced the launch of an email and scheduling service tailored for corporate clients that would take on Microsoft Corp and Google Inc, Reuters reported.

The service, called WorkMail, is set to launch in the second quarter and has been developed by the company's cloud computing unit, Amazon Web Services (AWS).

According to commentators, the service comes as an effort by Amazon to convince deep-pocketed enterprises to shift more of their work to AWS.

According to analysts, launching an email and scheduling service was likely to be the first step towards a broader suite of Amazon tools to gain corporate clients. For example, Google's Gmail comes packed with other services beyond email and calendars including file-sharing and video conferencing.

Over the last couple of years, AWS had been trying to get corporate clients on board because big businesses spend more on data centres than smaller busineses or startups, who were the initial focus of its business.

However, analysts ask whether Amazon was spreading itself too thin, in view of its sizeable investments in areas like Hollywood-style production and consumer devices.

According to Baird analyst, Colin Sebastian, email was a Trojan Horse into the enterprise". He added that email was a $1-billion opportunity for Amazon given the popularity of AWS and Amazon's willingness to sacrifice margins for volume.

Meanwhile, according to The Register, Amazon was hoping to invade the enterprise email sector with the web-based service to wean away companies using Microsoft Exchange.

According to Amazon, the off-premises, cloud-based software would provide email and shared calendars. Desktop users could access it either in a browser or with Outlook, while iOS and Android devices would have dedicated apps to pull and send messages.

In addition to Outlook integration, the service would support Microsoft Active Directory. Also AWS would offer migration tools for companies moving from on-premises servers.

Security was a top reason in Amazon's list of reasons to switch to its new offering. AWS said WorkMail would integrate with the AWS Key Management service and the AWS Management Console. This would allow administrators to enforce security policies and remotely wipe data from devices.

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