Amazon WorkMail – Email Hosting Made Simple
Last year, Amazon Web Services announced a new service that allows organizations to create, or migrate to, a fully managed email and calendar service. The product, WorkMail, is another service that falls under the “Enterprise Applications” category in which AWS is enabling businesses easy entry and access to enterprise applications. A key benefit to this service is the removal of the traditional administrative and operational overhead that typically comes with a medium-large Exchange environment. AWS manages the platform from the application down and the customer manages from the application up, including Active Directory integration or utilizing AWS Directory Services, managing users, domains, groups, and resources (rooms, equipment, etc).
In regards to costs, Amazon charges a per-user per month charge which includes 50GB mailbox for each user (can you imagine managing mailboxes of that size in a traditional environment?). Amazon also gives customers a 30-day free trial for up to 25 users. Additionally, when you utilize Amazon WorkMail, there is no charge for the utilization of AWS Directory Services, which is normally a $0.40 or $0.15/hour depending on your selection. As with all other AWS services, there is no minimum fee and you only pay for what you use.
From a technical perspective, here are the specs that I thought were interesting to know:
- Mailbox Size – 50GB/user
- Maximum Email Size: 25MB
- Mobile Support: any device that supports Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync Protocol
- Desktop Applications: Outlook 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. Mac OS X support via Apple Mail, Outlook 2010 and 2016 (soon)
- Multiple Email Addresses per user Supported
- Directory Services: Active Directory Integration via AWS AD Connector, AWS Microsoft AD or use Simple AD.
- Remote Wipe Supported
- Amazon WorkMail Migration Tool can migrate mail, folders, calendar items, tasks, contacts, and notes.
- Mobile device policies to enforce security
- Choice of hosting email in N. Virginia, Oregon, or Ireland (as of this writing)
- Email Journaling is not yet available but coming soon.
In an effort to show how easy it is to get started with Amazon WorkMail, I set up my own account, using my own domain, and was sending email in under 15 minutes. Below is a quick step-by-step for setting up WorkMail, configuring DNS, connecting Outlook 2016, and sending mail.
- Using the Quick Setup guide, create an Organization (which creates a new Directory using SimpleAD) using an alias of your choice under the desired AWS region. I chose the N. Virginia region and used ‘btkrausen’ as my alias which will also become a subdomain of “awsapps.com” that you may use moving forward. Instead of using the default domain, I plan to add my own personal domain behind it.
- Once the Directory Service has been created you can start customizing it, including adding your own domains, users, groups, resources, and more.
- The next step is to add your custom domain to the organization. Before you can use a new domain, it must be verified by creating a custom DNS record to prove ownership. You may also want to add the additional DNS records while you’re there, including the MX record, AutoDiscover, and CNAME records which map your custom domain to the ‘awsapps.com’ domain.
- After you create the TXT record as shown, click the “Check Verification” link to prove domain ownership and start using this domain. If desired, set the new domain to Default.
- Last but not least, set up your user account to start receiving/sending email.
- At this point, you should be able to configure Outlook using AutoDiscover and start sending email.
- Verification that it works by sending email to my personal GMail account: