Office 365 E5 – Skype for Business Improvements
A few months ago at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Orlando, we got the news that the old E4 plan has been replaced as the “premium Office 365 Enterprise Suite” by E5. Last week at the Australian Partner Conference (APC) in Gold Coast, this was a major discussion point.
According to Microsoft, the new plan “will encompass the core value of the modern productivity and collaboration capabilities Office 365 provides today, as well as significant new capabilities including Skype for Business services for real-time communication such as Cloud PBX and PSTN Conferencing, new analytics features like Power BI Pro and Delve Organizational Analytics, and new advanced security features such as eDiscovery, Customer Lockbox, Data Loss Protection (DLP) and Safe Attachments.”
There are some big words in that statement, however the major feature will be the “Cloud PBX”. This means that you will be able to replace your old on premise phone system with Office 365 fully integrated phone system. You will need to subscribe to a SIP trunk provider and you will get your telephone bill from them. This sounds great so lets look into it closely.
If you are currently using Office 365 and want to upgrade to the E5 plan there are a few things to consider. Generally speaking if you are a SMB business the E5 phone system features will be sufficient for you. If you are an enterprise or use advance features seen in call centres, then this may not be a fit.
Call Quality – this will certainly be an item you will have to address, unless you want your calls to be hit an miss (a little like personal Skype calls). Back in February, Microsoft announced that Office 365 Express-Route will be available by the end of 2015. Similar to the Azure Express Route this will be a way you can connect directly to Office 365 and will enable you to guarantee the voice quality. You should budget for this when considering a migration to a Office 365 E5.
If you are currently using the E4 plan with on premise Lync/Skype for Business install, Microsoft is hinting that nothing will change. You will just migrate to he E5 plan and will be able to continue using your on prem instance of Lync/Skype for Business. If you are using an on premise instance but are not utilising any advance feature then it may be a great time to migrate to the full hosted “Cloud PBX” on the E5 plan – and likely save some money.
If you are currently using the E4 plan with Lync/Skype for Business Servers hosted by a Microsoft Partner on a multi-tenant platform then this is likely to mean that you can migrate to Microsoft Hosted E5 and save. Discuss your options with an independent Microsoft partner to discuss your options.
Overall I don’t believe that many businesses will jump on this. They may use it as a secondary phone system to start with and test it for a while before deciding if it is a right fit for them.
If you do have any questions, feel free to reach out.