Those who have been waiting for Microsoft to release the new high-end E5 Office 365 plan can breathe a sigh of relief today because they can now purchase licenses through the Office 365 portal. Highlights of the new plan are described in an Office 365 blog post.
To get the new plan, go to Purchase Services in the Office 365 Admin Center and select the plan from the set offered. The choice offered to my tenant (which uses First Release) was “Enterprise E5 without PSTN Conferencing”, probably because the PSTN Conferencing feature is dependent on a local telco deal and that Microsoft has not yet concluded in Ireland. Remember that Microsoft allows you to take out a plan for 30 days on trial, meaning that you have enough time to test the new features before you need to commit to buying the plan.
The E5 plan is priced (in Ireland) at EUR27.80, which is about $30. In the U.S. the monthly cost per E5 license is $35, but that's including all the PSTN features. By comparison, the U.S. prices for the E3 and E4 plans are $20 and $22 per month respectively. The E4 plan is due to be retired in July 2016.
Even at $35/month, the price for an E5 license is lower than expected for a plan that essentially includes a lot of high-end functionality such as Delve Analytics, Customer Lockbox, Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), and Equivio Analytics for EDiscovery features. Apart from ATP, some of the functionality bundled into E5 might not be useful to every user in a tenant, so it could be that the E5 plan is going to be purchased and assigned to specific users. For example, those who need to perform sophisticated eDiscovery investigations or those who handle support interaction with Microsoft where access might be required to tenant data.
If you're planning to use the new Skype for Business capabilities to replace a traditional PBX, you'll probably need to purchase calling plans from Microsoft. In the U.S., these plans come in at $12/user/month for domestic calling and $24/user/month for international calling. Availability of calling plans in other countries depends on agreements between Microsoft and local telcos. Naturally, if you run an international tenant, you might need to wait until calling plans are available in all countries where your users are located.
Because it is probably the most interesting new feature from a technology perspective, I am taking a close look at Delve Analytics and will publish an article to describe what I’ve discovered in the near future. Note that Microsoft has to execute a provisioning process before you will be able to use Delve Analytics after purchasing and assigning E5 licenses to users. This is to ensure that analysis is ready to provide data to users immediately they are enabled for Analytics. Also, an add-in to provide an Outlook add-in to analyze how email sent by a user is processed by its recipients has to be made available to the tenant. In short, Delve Analytics is not accessible by flipping a switch. Stay patient and it will appear - eventually.
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