This is how Microsoft 365 E5 licences pay for themselves

By Chris Hathaway, Operations Director & Cloud Advisor at Cloud Essentials


Johannesburg, 30 Nov 2018
Chris Hathaway, Operations Director & Cloud Advisor at Cloud Essentials.

Cloud Essentials spends a lot of time analysing licence package and add-on possibilities for enterprise clients in a variety of different verticals. Its most common recommendation, particularly for legal and financial services with more complex threat protection, IAM, compliance and analytics requirements, is the Microsoft 365 E5 licence.

Of course, M365 E5 has a rather startling price tag in comparison to the lower-level enterprise licence options. Cloud Essentials has had more than few raised eyebrows from customers at costing time. Thankfully, when you take a closer look at the functionality bundled into the licence fee (and the number of expensive third-party solutions it effectively replaces), the value proposition becomes a lot more obvious, says Chris Hathaway, Operations Director & Cloud Advisor at Cloud Essentials.

Microsoft 365 and Office 365: what's the difference?

First off, let's clarify: Microsoft 365 and Office 365 are not the same thing. Microsoft 365 is a package deal that bundles Office 365 with Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS).

There are three M365 licence plans:

* M365 E3, which includes O365 E3, Windows 10 and EMS;
* M365 E5, which includes O365 E5, Windows 10, EMS and the latest advanced threat protection (ATP), security and collaboration tools; and
* M365 F1, designed for front-line workers.

Cloud Essentials' preference for Microsoft 365 E5 is based largely on its ATP, security and analytics capabilities, but it delivers incredible value, and savings, on a number of fronts.

Let's take a look.

M365 E5 features that give the most bang for your buck

Skype for Business (full package)

Potential savings: $$$

On an E3 licence, Skype for Business is a valuable collaboration tool. On an E5 licence, it becomes a comprehensive phone system that can effectively replace your enterprise telephony altogether (region dependent).

It includes:

* Instant messaging;
* In- and outbound call functionality;
* Call routing, auto-attendants and call queues;
* Voicemail;
* Audio and video conferencing;
* Call recording with transcription; and
* Calling plans (only available in certain regions - check yours here).

Power BI Pro

Potential savings: $$$

Visual analytics and data modelling tools are notoriously expensive, as are the consultants that enterprises generally have to hire to implement them. On an M365 E5 licence, however, businesses get free access to Power BI Pro: Microsoft's self-service BI platform that delivers just as much functionality as top third-party solutions with less complexity and lower costs. Read more on that here.

Advanced eDiscovery

Potential savings: $$$$$

eDiscovery is another area in which M365 E5 punches well above its weight. In fact, if it delivered nothing more than this functionality, its licence fees would still be money well spent for a lot of customers.

By adding powerful analytics capabilities (as well as basic review tools) to the in-place search, in-place hold, and export functionality available in lower level licence plans, M365 E5 enables businesses to perform large parts of the eDiscovery process in-house. This has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and reduce eDiscovery timelines by a significant amount.

Identity and access management

Potential savings: $$

Leveraging Azure Active Directory (P2) functionality, M365 E5 adds identity protection and privileged identity management (PIM) to the foundational IAM of Office 365's E5 licence plan. These value-adding features provide next-level control over the security of user identities and permitted access and/or roles, the number one entry point for most targeted threats and malware attacks.

Thanks to this functionality, enterprises on M365 E5 can (among other things):

* Detect vulnerabilities in user identities;
* Detect and proactively prevent compromised identities from being abused;
* Require approval for specific admin role changes or permissions;
* Track granted admin rights and changes within admin groups; and
* Enable on-demand, just-in-time admin access for specific workflows.

It would be a real challenge to find a third-party solution that could provide anywhere near this level of environment-wide, integrated protection. There's certainly no reason to keep paying for one if you're on M365 E5.

Advanced threat protection (ATP)

Potential savings: $$

Between Windows Defender ATP (network attack/data breach prevention), O365 ATP (e-mail filtering) and O365 Threat Intelligence (security insights and reporting), threat protection on an M365 E5 licence is unrivalled in its ability to stop known and unknown malware, viruses and malicious links dead in their tracks. These tools (exclusively available on an E5 licence or as an add-on subscription) are effective in real-time, across mailboxes as well as shared documents, and, most importantly, leverage threat intelligence gathered from across Microsoft's entire, global ecosystem. That's impossible to match as a third-party solution provider with a dramatically smaller footprint. Read more on that in our blog on Microsoft's approach to ATP, here.

Advanced data governance (with auto-classification and labelling)

Potential savings: priceless (no third-party equivalents)

All Microsoft Enterprise licence plans from E3 upwards allow for the implementation of manual data retention and deletion policies and classifications. M365 E5 goes one step further to automate that process using Azure Information Protection (P2) functionality. This scans content on save to apply the appropriate governance policies and/or labels to documents, ensuring compliance with zero user input required.

For businesses with very specific compliance requirements, we'd also suggest considering the value of Customer Key, Hold Your Own Key and Customer Lockbox, all of which are available on an M365 E5 licence and provide unparalleled control over things like encryption keys, just-in-time authorisations and external access.

Cloud App Security

Potential savings: priceless (no third-party equivalents)

Microsoft's Data Loss Prevention (DLP) functionality is pretty impressive across all its licence plans. Where M365 E5 stands out in the crowd is in Cloud App Security. This service extends enterprise DLP and information protection policies to documents stored or shared in third-party apps like Dropbox, shoring up potential breaches and blocking Shadow IT SaaS apps, something no third-party solution can do.

Adding up the value

For many of Cloud Essentials' customers, getting rid of all the third-party services and solutions they needed in the past, along with their deployment, integration and management costs, makes up for the majority (if not entirety) of their M365 E5 licence fees, off the bat. Add any kind of eDiscovery project to that tally, and M365 E5 literally pays for itself. It's really a no-brainer for any enterprise with sophisticated compliance, data governance and analytics requirements.

But, there's more to the value of M365 E5 than just cost.

One of the biggest advantages of this licence plan is that, by removing the need for third party add-ons, it enables enterprises to manage all their tools and services on a single, integrated platform. For example, Office 365 labelling policies can be used to drive data leak prevention, mobile device management and information protection actions across the entire platform, all managed, monitored and reported on in one place.

That kind of seamless integration is both rare and incredibly valuable, and no licence plan does it quite as effortlessly as M365 E5.

Need more information?

Choosing a best-fit Microsoft licence plan for your enterprise can be a daunting prospect. As a Gold Certified Cloud Productivity and Cloud Platform Microsoft Partner, Cloud Essentials is ideally positioned to help you assess your options. Get in touch.

Editorial contacts
Cloud Essentials (+27) 11 781 2323 Tracey.Hadfield@cloudessentials.com
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