In our introductory Office 365 conversations with customers, the topic of licenses invariably comes up. The questions seem to always boil down to: “So, exactly which license do I need?” The answer (unfortunately) is, it depends. In short, which license (or combination of licenses) is required is dependent on the business. The organization may use a one-size-fits-all approach, where money is no object and employees get the best of everything. Or perhaps the scale of users makes this approach cost-prohibitive, so more careful planning is necessary. Still other organizations may suffer from readiness issues, such as outdated Office Suites or workstations. The point is, many considerations must be taken in to account when an organization is in the process of migrating to Office 365.
Please note: the objective of this post is not to explain what features the various Office 365 license models entail. Microsoft already does a nice job of this here. Rather, what we’ll focus on here—to help you make an informed decision—is what’s not included.
We’ll focus first on Exchange Online, because it’s usually the first workload migrated to Office 365. Also, let’s narrow the licenses to include just the Enterprise. These license tiers are: E1, E3 and E5. E5 is the newest plan, and the plan that offers the full complement of Office 365 features.
The following are the key deciding factors when choosing which plan is appropriate (and not appropriate) for a specific organization.
E1 does not include the following:
- Legal Hold also known as Litigation Holds or In Place Hold
- Data Loss Prevention
- Cloud App Security
- Advanced threat management
- Advanced data governance
- eDiscovery export
- Advance eDiscovery
- Office Pro Plus (the workstation-installable Office Suite)
E3 does not include the following:
E5, as previously mentioned, includes everything.
Along with the items outlined above, subtle differences exist around Archiving. The E1 plan has a 50GB per user limit, while E3 and E5 offer unlimited archiving.
It’s also important to note that certain features mentioned above are also offered ala carte, as a separate SKU. This eliminates the need to purchase an upgraded license if you only need one feature. Note: Legal Hold doesn’t appear to be available as separate product.
Bear in mind that eDiscovery works across multiple Office 365 services and is not just limited to Exchange Online. You can use eDiscovery against OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, Teams, Skype for Business conversations and Office 365 Groups, making this a key feature of Office 365.
If your organization needs every Office 365 feature, the decision is clear, you need an E5.
Next Question: Do I want to invest in E1 or E3? Again, it depends:
Do you need Legal Hold?
If the legal hold feature is required, the decision is simple. You need E3.
Do you need the capability to export eDiscovery not just perform eDiscovery?
If you require the ability to export eDiscovery, you will also need an E3.
Office Pro Plus
If Legal Hold and eDiscovery exports are not a requirement, the next deciding factor is Office Pro Plus. E1 includes Outlook, Work, Excel and PowerPoint as Web Applications only. If you require Office products installed on a desktop, you will also need either E3 or E5.
Other important differences between licensing options may factor into your decision around which license to purchase. Max mailbox size, for instance: with 50 GB offered to E1 and 100 GB offered to E3 and E5. Cloud App Security and all features with the prefix ‘Advanced’ are included in E5.
New to Office 365? Performing an Exchange migration? What license do you need?
Well, it depends. But one thing’s for certain. You can always depend on Anexinet’s expert consultants for help with your Office 365 migration. We offer an that will accelerate your migration by equipping you with a readiness assessment, proof of concept, and a roadmap.
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