Update August 2014 – We’re proud to be working with Ingram Micro to deliver a series of webinars on the Microsoft Cloud platform. In this recording we go through the new Office 365 Business plans.
In almost every cloud event we run, I mention how frequently cloud services change. Think about Office; there’s Office 2013. Before that came Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2003 and so on. A nice predictable release cadence of three years or so. A similar pattern exists with server products and OSs. The cloud has a much faster release cycle and from October 1st there will be new Office 365 plans for small business: Office 365 Business, Office 365 Business Essentials and Office 365 Business Premium. All three of these are aimed at the small and medium business (SMB) market and will replace the current lineup (Small Business, Small Business Premium and Midsize Business) by late 2015.
This is a nice improvement on the current, fragmented SMB position, because you can now mix these three plans to your hearts content, up to 300 seats of each. You cannot currently mix and match Small Business and Midsized Business plans. The 300 seat limit is per plan, not per tenant, so you can have up to 900 seats across these three plans if necessary.
Before you get too excited, these plans also have clear omissions.
Office 365 Business doesn’t include the Office apps and features that Midsize Business did; Access and Lync. I think this is almost the wrong way around. Access shouldn’t be chosen over SQL Server for enterprises and SMB love the power that Access can bring. Lync is marvellous for all types of organisation and shouldn’t be limited to just enterprise.
My personal position remains that customers and partners should start with the Office 365 Enterprise plans and then work downwards if absolutely necessary, not the other way around:
- There’s more choice with the Enterprise family of services, not just plans E1, E3 and E4 but all of the standalones
- You can mix and match so office users can go for plan E3 for example whilst lighter workers may just require hosted email
- More control over the Office installation and updates via the admin centre
- More services to grow into when you’re ready, without having to consider migrating to a higher plan
- Lower cost entry point: Small Business Premium is £8.40 per user per month; Exchange Online is just £2.60 per user per month
- Lots more reasons but I forget them