Software vendors are constantly busy adding updates and features to their products. An E5 version is now available for Office 365. The customers are finding it increasingly difficult to keep track of which version is best suited for individual cases. Useful or useless?
In this article, I’d like to take a closer look at the new features of the Office 365 E5 plan.
First things first: ‘E’ stands for Enterprise. Compared to the other E plans 1 and 3, plan number 5 is the most extensive. But why do they only come in uneven numbers? It’s simple: There has already been an E2 and an E4 plan, but they have since been withdrawn. Many people say that the E5 plan is the successor to the E4. I don’t share that opinion entirely. Sure, it has all the functions that were present in the E4, but in addition to all that, the E5 plan is also designed consistently for rigorous collaboration, data analysis and security.
There are Business plans as well as the E plans. The Business options are suitable for companies withup to300 employees, and of course are missing Enterprise features like dual-use rights.
So let’s take a closer look at what’s on offer:
The key difference in the E5 plan is immediately obvious. Compared to the other plans, it adds a whole stack of useful features to the areas we have already mentioned. Now we can investigate the special feature of the E5 plan:
Enterprise Voice w/Skype for Business Plus Cal (on-prem only)
If you already have a Skype for Business environment (on-prem) in which you also use the Enterprise Voice feature (which means essentially that you can place calls to an external landline telephone number using your S4B client), then the E5 plan lets you license this on-prem feature for your current S4B environment. This can be an advantage in hybrid S4B scenarios, as it means you will only need one online license per user in order to get the best of both worlds.
Skype Cloud PBX
The Skype Cloud PBX system allows you to replace your current PBX setup with a number of features that are provided directly in Office 365 and integrated closely within the Microsoft Cloud productive environment. You can choose between a complete Cloud environment and a hybrid configuration, in which you exploit the benefits of the Skype Cloud PBX system while still using the features of the local private branch exchange.
Office 365 E5 Plan: How good is the Enterprise Version?
The Microsoft Cloud Connector Edition may be the right solution for your organization if you do not have a Lync server or Skype for Business server infrastructure.
The Cloud Connector is a hybrid service comprising a set of virtual machines (VMs) that is assembled as a package. A local telephone provider implements this setup in the Cloud PBX. This set of VMs provides a minimal Skype for Business server topology in a virtual environment. Users managed in the Cloud can therefore receive landline services from their own organization in the Microsoft Cloud. The Cloud Connector is available as a free download.
This add-on lets users dial into a Skype for Business conference using a landline telephone.
Here’s one scenario:
It is irrelevant in this context whether the supplier or customer owns a license. Only the creator of the Skype conference must have a PSTN Conferencing license. Participants receiving an invitation can then choose whether they want to join using a landline telephone or a Skype for Business client. The benefit: Participants from different regions (in this case Austria and the USA) only pay landline charges to take part in the conference. The creator of the conference incurs no further costs. There are currently over 90 regions around the world that offer one or several landline dial-in numbers.
Skype Meeting Broadcast
Skype Meeting Broadcast is included in all Enterprise plans: E1 / E3 / E5.
Don’t be surprised: The service is still made available by Skype.com, as the technology originates from the time in which Skype was a stand-alone solution. Users with an Enterprise plan can access the feature via this page.
Skype Meeting Broadcast essentially works the same way as Multicast, allowing me to reach a large number of channels or groups using just one connection.
The significant benefit: Users now need less bandwidth than if they were inviting all participants to a Skype meeting. Moreover, a Skype meeting is restricted to 250 users, while a Skype Meeting Broadcast is designed for up to 10,000.
The drawback: I can send video and audio signals, but I can’t receive them. So this kind of communication is best used for major announcements or web training. Live broadcast of an event would also be conceivable. Another disadvantage is that users need to use PowerShell to activate this feature for their Office 365 client. Click here for a step-by-step guide.
PSTN Calling is a consistent solution designed to relocate all telephony services, including the provider, to the Cloud. PSTN Calling is not an integral feature of the E5 plan, and must always be obtained as an add-on. This service is currently available in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, France and Puerto Rico. Germany is scheduled to follow this year. Here, Microsoft fulfils the role of a local telephone provider. PSTN Calling requires Cloud PBX.
Outstanding modern communication
The E5 plan offers you all kinds of opportunities to equip users perfectly for the modern world of communication.
That in itself would not justify the hefty price, of course. That’s why the E5 plan also comes with additional features like:
Power BI Pro
Quick, simple access to Power BI data
Integration of various data sources like Excel, SQL, OneDrive, etc.
Dashboards for professional presentation of BI data
Various visualization options
Staff work/life balance analysis
Anonymized user data evaluation of communication settings like team meetings, e-mail, telephone calls, etc.
Based on a machine learning method
Granular access control in support cases. Particularly important for companies required to comply with strict auditing guidelines in regard to data privacy
Oracle Database Vault
Transparent Data Encryption
Oracle Kay Vault
Oracle Data Redaction
Advanced Threat Protection
Defends against zero day malware attacks
Scans of links and attachments
Click tracking and advanced reporting
Equivio Analytics for eDiscovery
Court-approved machine learning platform
Mining of e-mails and documents for information concerning legal or compliance matters
When should I consider the E5 plan?
Let’s say I’ve decided to take the E3 plan, but I still need advanced telephony features. Of course I can get them all as add-ons to my E3 plan. But ultimately I will reach a kind of tipping point. This describes a certain moment from which it would be more advisable to purchase an E5 plan, because the price of the E3 plan plus the add-ons I need might be the same or even more than what I would have to pay for the E5 plan itself.