Over the recent
months, you may have heard a lot of hype around Office 365 E5 plans, Cloud PBX
and PSTN Conferencing however it can be confusing as to what is actually
available right now and what there will be in the near future.
Office 365 E5
The E5 plan is the
successor of the original E4 plan and is the top of the line package that
includes (but not limited to);
- Full Office 2016 Suite
- Exchange Online
- Skype for Business Online
- PSTN Conferencing
- Cloud PBX
- Power BI Pro
- Delve Analytics
And much more! - all
for roughly $44.20CAD per user per month
Full feature list
can be found on https://products.office.com/en-ca/business/office-365-enterprise-e5-business-software
E4 is still
currently available and if you currently have E4 this will continue on
indefinitely, however this will not be available for purchase from June 2016.
One of the new
features within the E5 plan is Cloud PBX. This is great as it means you can run
your full enterprise voice features and call control on the Microsoft Office
365 stack, meaning you don't need to worry about hardware and maintenance
For companies in the
US, you can completely run your PBX in the cloud with no on-premises servers
required. Users can have their own local direct dial numbers and you can even
port your existing numbers from your current provider to Microsoft.
For all other
countries worldwide, you can still have all of your users and call control
features hosted in Office 365, you just require at minimum a single mediation
server on-premises to connect to either your SIP trunk or PRI gateway.
Microsoft are providing a new Skype for Business instance called the Cloud
Connector Edition which is completely free with your E5 licenses.
The plan is for more
countries to be available for the full Cloud PBX features like in the US,
however timelines are unknown at the moment but rumoured to be late 2016 for
One of the other
great features released is PSTN Conferencing, this allows you to host Skype for
Business Online meetings and allow participants to dial-in via the PSTN. Unlike
other providers such as WebEx and GoToMeeting, you do not pay per minute for every
caller that dials in, you simply pay your monthly subscription cost and that is
it. These numbers are available in a number of countries at the moment, with
Microsoft planning to rapidly expand to as many as possible over the next year.
This may be the
perfect gateway for migrating your telephony to the cloud as you can start with
PSTN conferencing for now and then start to migrate your existing PBX. There
are many options of what can be done and Softlanding can provide a
comprehensive roadmap on moving your PBX, whether it is already an on-premises
Skype for Business deployment or a Cisco, Avaya or something else to the cloud.
If you require any more information about any of this, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org