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Did Microsoft just enter the telephony game? Plus, everything else you need to know about Office 365 E5

Microsoft | Posted on December 1, 2015 by Keith Groom

Enterprises now have access to the new Office 365 E5 Suite, Microsoft’s most comprehensive set of productivity, collaboration, analytics, security and compliance capabilities, of any Office 365 plan ever.

And while the premium SKU – which became available December 1, 2015 – brings with it some impressive new features, it’s the attractive price tag and new communications services that are causing the biggest waves. In E5, Microsoft is rolling out Cloud PBX and PSTN Conferencing services, designed to eliminate the need for legacy telephony systems and third party conferencing providers.

Coming in at $35 for the standard E5 plan, Microsoft estimates it costs just one-third of what enterprises are already paying for all the combined services.

Is this your chance to rip and replace that old PBX? Look at the chart below before answering that question.

Office E5 Cost Savings

Left: per user costs from competition; middle: à la cart menu style cost for equiv. features from Microsoft; right: the discounted cost per user for E3 subscribers to upgrade. Note: The E5 standard license costs $35 per user.

Given those figures above, Softchoice sees this as an enormous opportunity for businesses of all sizes who are stuck on ageing PBX infrastructure, costly conferencing fees, to save considerably on costs on a per-user basis. All this while driving forward the latest in cloud collaboration technology.

In particular, E3 subscribers and E4 subscribers have lots of power and potential cost savings to gain, for a relatively small incremental operational expense to their Office 365 license.

What is included in the E5 plan, and what is new to previous E1 and E3 Enterprise plans?

Aside from those major new communications services, E5, as well as all the other Enterprise plans (E1, and E3) are getting many new additions. From security (Data Loss Protection, Encryption), to analytics (eDiscovery) and new social and IM tools, there’s a lot to digest for each level. The chart below has all the details for the three big plans.

Office 365 55 Feature Comparison

What does this mean for E4 subscribers?

E5 replaces E4 as the premium option for Office 365 licensing. The E4 plan (which sold for $22 per user) will be retired upon the new release, but existing subscribers will not be forced to make the jump.

Additionally, if bundles aren’t the right fit for your needs, Microsoft is making these new features available via a pick-what-you-need basis however at a slight premium to the full bundle price.

Office 365 E5 Upgrade Path

When is E5 available and who can purchase it?

Office 365 E5 is available December 1, 2015. It is available to commercial and government customers now. Worldwide Education and U.S. Government Community Cloud availability will be announced later.

Why would an upgrade to E5 make sense?

There are a number of reasons Softchoice thinks customers, particularly those already signed up for E3, would benefit from a move to E5. Of course there is the potential cost savings, as discussed above. But, there is also the allure of streamlining your purchases and eliminating multiple providers. Similarly, it consolidates all your technology under one umbrella, making admin simpler, which ultimately adds up to more time for your team to focus on the core business.

What can Microsoft’s Cloud PBX and PSTN do for your business?

In short, E5 delivers everything you need a modern telephony system to do. You now can eliminate costly PBX systems, consolidate multiple vendors and streamline operations to lower your TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) for telecommunications.

More on its features:

  • Skype Meeting Broadcast
    Reach up to 10,000 people and meet from any browser or device.
  • Cloud PBX
    Call management features delivered from Office365, enable call hold, transfer, voice mail, & call forwarding.
  • PSTN Conferencing
    Use a dial-in number to join Skype meetings from any device, dial-out to bring participants into the meeting.
  • PSTN Calling
    Phone numbers and phone lines from Office 365, assign users new numbers or re-use existing ones, and sign users up for national or international calling plans.

Upgrade now and save 15%

Work with Softchoice and get a 15% discount up to June 30, 2016 when you migrate to the new license. Get in touch with your account representative to find out more.

Join the webinar

Learn more about Microsoft strategy around E5 in this interactive webinar where you will have an opportunity to hear from our experts and ask all questions you need answered.

We’ll be holding a webinar Jan 20/21 to discuss Office 365 E5 in detail. Join our experts and your peers to get all your questions answered, by registering here.

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