Amazon’s launching a new “Simple Email Service” to quickly give small to medium businesses access to corporate-grade “bulk and transactional” emailing services. It’s the latest step in expansion for the Web Services business you probably forgot Amazon runs.
The last time Amazon’s Web Services business was in the news, it was due to its controversial (to some) dropping of handling WikiLeaks’ website as various organizations around the world sought to bully it offline, but the odd fact about AWS is that back in early 2009 its servers were already pulling more traffic than Amazon’s more public-facing retail business.
Later in 2009, Amazon also tried to expand its support for small to medium-sized business by launching a virtual private cloud system to give cheap, powerful computing access to those who may otherwise never be able to access it. The latest step, Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) is a logical expansion for AWS, as the business world runs on email in the same way your car runs on gas. And while it’s relatively easy for a smaller business to set up basic emailing systems, a corporate grade, scalable system for bulk or business uses can be a much trickier and expensive affair.
Amazon’s system offers “no long-term commitment” or even a “minimum spend”–the entry point is actually zero cost, with a free-for use tier (if you’re an existing Amazon EC2 customer) which lets you send up to 2,000 emails per day, and then tiered pricing as usage scale upward, with charges scaled to the number of emails sent “plus data transfer fees.”
Essentially Amazon’s offering businesses the chance to have a bulk email service that promises a higher percentage of successful deliveries without “hassles such as email server management, network configuration,” and without having to negotiate with your ISP to meet “rigorous” standards for email content.
All of which makes excellent sense, and if Amazon can deliver on its promises then it’ll be an undoubted boon to many young enterprises. But it does beg one big question: We know that it’s possible to misappropriate the powerful, cheap cloud-based systems Amazon offers for slightly nefarious reasons, so will SES be a horrid spam email machine? It would seem a risk, as all those barriers to setting up a bulk email operation are there to dissuade spammers. Luckily the service includes a feedback loop to trap errors and “spam complaints,” though that would rely on the offending company acting on those. Amazon does also scan the outgoing mail for spammy qualities and retains the right to suspend service to offenders.
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