Are you ready to make the extra investment in a Microsoft 365 Business Premium Plan or any of the advanced plans Microsoft offers?
Microsoft 365 Business Premium Plan, Standard, and Enterprise Options—Which One Is Right for Your Company?
Should your company invest in Microsoft’s more advanced cloud plans like M365 Business Premium?
For most companies, we believe the answer is yes. But making those choices isn’t always easy. Microsoft plans range from $6 a seat per month to more than $50 per seat. How much you pay will depend on your company’s size, your infrastructure needs, and the “add-ons” you need. Even using Microsoft’s handy comparison grids, decision-making isn’t clear-cut.
But there’s good news in all this complexity: choice. These days, companies of any size can enjoy enterprise-grade networking, productivity, and cloud security products, scaled for their budget and needs. Microsoft’s newest offerings include its entire suite of Microsoft Office networking and productivity tools. They’ve also added device management and baked-in Endpoint Detection systems. In many cases, smaller companies can get nearly everything a larger company can get in their plans, for considerably less per seat, per month.
The product continuum for Microsoft 365 plans start with M365 Business Standard and Microsoft 365 Business Premium, and graduates to services for larger companies that include M365 Enterprise Plans 3, and 5. What kinds of plans should your company be considering?
What’s the Difference between M365 Business Standard, M365 Business Premium Plan, and the Enterprise-Grade Products?
What makes a plan “enterprise-grade”? The answer is simple: the number of seats it covers. Microsoft caps its business plans at 300 users. Companies with more than 300 employees are the target market for M365 E3 and E5 plans. With Microsoft’s continued improvements, plans designed for smaller companies still offer much of the scale and power you’d find in enterprise plans.
“There’s not a lot of difference between the upper-end Enterprise plans and Microsoft 365 Business Plan. They have a lot of the same programs and protections,” said Christopher Thorngren, solutions architect at Integris. “Sometimes the main difference is the amount of capacity they have. The enterprise plans come with more mailbox storage, OneDrive capacity, and an upgraded SharePoint plan, for instance.”
Parsing the 300-employee cutoff
Thorngren is quick to point out though, that these enterprise options are available as add-ons for the M365 Business Premium. “If your company has less than 300 licenses, I usually recommend just doing the add-ons,” said Thorngren. “Even with the a la carte add-ons, it’s still a far lower price than just upgrading all your licenses to comparable plans, usually E3 and E5.”
The 300-employee cutoff is a pretty good boundary between the different styles of plans. But there are grey areas. For instance, Is your company set to expand over the 300-license threshold in the coming contract year? “Since Microsoft caps the number of licenses at 300 for Standard and Premium, I usually recommend they keep the business premium licenses for up to 300 employees, then purchase E3 licenses for any employees they add on during the year that go over that line,” Thorngren said. “When the next contract year comes around, and they’re over 300 employees, Microsoft usually switches the licenses to enterprise-grade at that point.”
While it’s important to understand how size impacts the M365 plans you purchase, it’s also important to understand the features these plans include. Let’s take a closer look.
For Smaller Companies: Comparing Microsoft M365 Business Standard to Microsoft M365 Business Premium Plan
In concrete terms, Microsoft M365 Business Standard and Microsoft M365 Business Premium Plan differ widely in price, with standard clocking in at $12.50 per user, per month, and premium coming in at $22 per user, per month.
Both Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Microsoft 365 Business Premium plans have those office suite capabilities we’ve all come to know and love, namely:
- Microsoft Word
- Microsoft Excel
After that, the two plans diverge. What are the additional capabilities you get with Business Premium?
Extra Capabilities You Get from Microsoft 365 Business Premium Plan
Microsoft Defender for Business
This suite of cybersecurity capabilities is a new addition in 2022, and it offers companies a wide variety of cybersecurity surveillance on your Microsoft platforms. Specifically, it offers advanced AI scans that detect and respond to threats, paired with threat intelligence from Microsoft’s live security experts. Companies with their systems in the Azure universe will like the cost savings in Microsoft’s endpoint detection system and anti-virus package. However, if your systems have significant functions outside Microsoft’s purview, your CIO and/or MSP may recommend that you stick with some of its competitors, such as Crowd Strike or Arctic Wolf.
Azure Active Directory Premium P1
Today’s hybrid IT environments consist of on-premise equipment and cloud capabilities. Securely and seamlessly working with both requires advanced Identity and Access Management (IAM). Microsoft has packed this edition with enterprise-strength granular settings including self-service capabilities that empower users and lower IT admin overhead.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) (Azure)
Access to resources requires users to complete an extra step. This extra step is very difficult for cyber thieves to intervene and hijack. When employees wish to reach a specific application, they receive an MFA prompt to submit a unique code that is sent to them via text or voice. With MFA already bundled into Azure, your organization will not have to subscribe to another service like Duo Mobile from Cisco. (Unless you have unique requirements.)
Learn More: MFA Overview
Conditional Access is advancing way beyond basic MFA and is expanded and refined by user or group membership, IP address location details, devices, applications, as well as up to the second, calculated risk detection. For example, the accounting department may be granted unfettered access 9 AM-5 PM on their office workstations but they will not be able to log in from home on a family computer at 8 PM.
Learn More: Conditional Access Overview
Self-Service Password Reset (SSPR) for AD
Wouldn’t you like your IT department or MSP to focus on more strategic endeavors versus manual tasks? Lost or forgotten passwords exact a heavy and easily avoidable cost. Thanks to SSPR, you’ll have one less repetitive and expensive activity to worry about. And your team will love the freedom to get back to work with a new password after navigating a few easy-to-follow prompts.
Azure Information Protection Plan 1
Imagine creating a sensitive business plan and then being equipped to secure, protect, and control who sees the asset once it’s shared with someone outside your organization. You can also set granular permissions to let certain people view and edit but not print or share, and more. The same settings can also be revoked in the blink of an eye. Persistent protection shields your information from the wrong eyes no matter where it travels or gets stored: onsite, in the cloud, and all points in between.
Learn More: Information Protection Overview
Microsoft Endpoint Manager (MEM) is the new home for Intune, a cloud-based, mobile management solution used to secure data and access to applications across corporate and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) assets. Intune was a stand-alone product but is now blended into a more expansive portfolio of configuration tools that tighten cohesion and control of every endpoint in your enterprise.
Learn More: Microsoft Endpoint Manager Overview
Choosing Your Microsoft Plan: What’s Next?
As you can see, when it comes to comparing plans like Microsoft 365 Business Plan Premium, your options are endless. Your expense for your platforms will be one of your most significant IT line items. That’s why it’s so important to make the right decision, the first time. A qualified MSP can do the strategic assessment needed to help you understand your needs, and where your IT infrastructure needs to be, to meet your growth targets.
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