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Categories: Skype for Business
Description:

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.

 

Cloud PBX

 

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 anymore.​


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 Canada.

 

PSTN Conferencing

 

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 mwaeger@softlanding.ca