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Is it time to level up your Microsoft 365 license?


Is your Microsoft 365 license still the best fit for your organisation post-COVID?

Here’s how some recent changes mean you might be able to leverage more advanced features for less than you’d expect!

Does looking into Microsoft 365 Licensing options send you circling down rabbit holes?

Are you thinking you need more security, compliance and reporting features to meet your growing organisation’s requirements, but not sure what’s what?

Have you heard about Microsoft’s 2022 price rises, but don’t know what affects you specifically and how?

We’ve put together a bit of a Q&A to help you rethink your approach to Microsoft 365 Licensing and the features you now need!

Q1. “What are the most popular Microsoft 365 subscriptions?”

In this article we are going to look at the 7 most common subscriptions in use across a broad spectrum of organisations.

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium
  • Office 365 E3 (+/- Enterprise Mobility & Security E3)
  • Office 365 E5 (+/- Enterprise Mobility & Security E5)
  • Microsoft 365 E3
  • (Microsoft 365 E5)

Essentially these 7 subscriptions range from Entry-level small-business-grade subscriptions (Business Basic/Standard), to  Mid-size business/enterprise-grade offerings with robust-security inclusions (M365 Business Premium, O365 E3/E5), and the Fully-featured Enterprise grade offerings with advanced security and compliance inclusions (M365 E3/E5).

Once upon a time, your organisation probably chose your preferred Microsoft 365 subscription or combination of subscriptions based on your organisation’s size and of course, on price. Read on to revisit those selection criteria and make a more informed choice.

Q2. “Why would I need to revisit the Microsoft 365 subscriptions my organisation uses?”

The world we live and work in has changed dramatically over the last 3 years, and today even smaller or mid-size organisations are faced with balancing cost with the competing needs of a workforce demanding greater accessibility and flexibility and management looking for greater-than-ever security, compliance & reporting.

There are literally hundreds of Microsoft licensing options with a vast and ever-changing array of names, tiers, inclusions and features. It’s incredibly hard to keep track of, even for those of us in the know!

Add into that mix the fact that your organisation is today facing a host of new challenges including:

  • A more permanent move to Remote / Hybrid working
  • An explosion in new cyber attack threats and tactics
  • An increased onus on organisations to proactively plan, audit and report on security, privacy and compliance issues with changes to both federal and state legislation.
  • An increasingly IT-savvy workforce thanks to generational change and rapidly upskilling by some during the WFH periods. More of your team now has no qualms in sourcing solutions outside your organisation’s approved toolsets if they need to.
  • Inflation and interest rate pressures driving all organisations to review both their Opex and Capex outgoings.
  • Broad-ranging changes over the course of 2022 to Microsoft pricing and billing models.

So just like that comfortable, worn-in pair of Ugg boots you wore all the way through the pandemic and since, your organisation’s tried-and-true Microsoft subscriptions might be in need of a “refresh” as you restyle for the changed business world!

Q3. “Ok then Maxsum, so what do you recommend?”

Well naturally, we’re going to start by saying, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to licensing. To really go through this exercise properly, get in touch with us so we can run you through all the Microsoft 365 services and features you currently have, review what’s changed in your organisation recently and what new requirements you have, and what a better fit licensing arrangement might look like going forward.

What we can say going, however, is that we do have some faves! Here are what they are and why they’re out go-to suggestions.

Microsoft 365 Business Premium

The top-tier Business-grade subscription Microsoft offers that really packs some punch. It’s available for mid-size organisations of up to 300 people, and includes a range of Azure Active Directory Premium Plan 1 (AAD P1) security and compliance features that you need to pay extra for even at some of the higher license levels, including Multifactor Authentication, Conditional Access, Single Sign-On and Intune.

Office 365 E3

This license is the best option for those organisations that are knowledge-worker heavy and growing. Whereas this license doesn’t give you the AAD P1 inclusions by default like we saw above, it gives you room to grow and room to create and store more of everything, with double the Exchange Online (mailbox) storage, unlimited OneDrive for business storage and flexible SharePoint storage, plus additional Microsoft Teams features like the ability to host Live Events and Webinars directly from Teams. Many organisations then tend to supplement this with the Enterprise Mobility & Security add-on to give them those additional security and compliance controls they’re looking for.

Microsoft 365 E3/E5

These are more or less Microsoft’s all-you-can-eat options and are geared toward providing organisations of any size an enterprise-grade toolset with advanced security, compliance, auditing, reporting with a broad range of the Enterprise Mobility & Security add-on inclusions covered, including AAD P1 at the E3 level, and the full set of EMS features at E5 including both AAD P1 and P2, which opens up controls for identity protection, entitlement management, privileged identity management, insider risk management, and risk-based conditional access.

Q4. “So how much more will moving to a higher-value offering cost us…?”

Again, this will need to be discussion specific to your circumstances. However, what we are seeing is that the 2022 Microsoft baseline price rises and billing model changes are giving many organisation’s the opportunity to “get more” for less than they would expect.

Here’s how:

Firstly, mid 2022 Microsoft rolled out an average 20% price rise across 4 of the 6 licenses featured here. This is the first substantial price increase Microsoft has made to these products in many years and accounts for the substantially increased feature sets how available across all the levels, especially in Microsoft Teams.

Secondly, Microsoft is currently in the midst of transitioning over to a new billing model where organisations that pay upfront annually for their subscriptions will avoid a further 20% surcharge that will be applied to those who remain on month-by-month billing. Some clients have already made this move, and the exact cut-off dates are still moving, but this also represents an opportunity for you to potentially get a more inclusive license on annual terms up front, whereas staying on the less-inclusive license monthly may actually end up costs you more overall!

Finally, whilst the monthly to annual billing change is not being applied to Not-for-Profit subscriptions as yet, from September, these same Not-for-Profit subscription types will get a price rise too. It’s expected to come out at approximately 20% across the board just like the commercial licence price changes applied in the first instances above. But crunching the numbers, what we see, for example, is that this change will give some NFPs the opportunity to move to a substantially more inclusive license level for a pretty marginal overall price difference.

With baseline prices going up anyway, modelling shows that after the across-the-board price rise, a 100-person organisation currently on Office 365 E3 + EMS E3 Add-on might only add a few hundred dollars to their bill each month to move to Microsoft 365 E3 and open up a whole new world of advanced security, compliance and reporting feature sets.

And yes the Microsoft license billing landscape is still under change, but new and more inclusive licensing options are now definitely worth a conversation and some number crunching! Let’s see what a nice basket with all the eggs you want and need in it might look like!

Contact Maxsum today on 1300 629 786 or right here to chat with our Sales and Account Management Team about undertaking a licensing review.

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