Microsoft’s Office 365 E5 offering now allows organizations to license their entire user base for Skype for Business with Enterprise Voice and Conferencing without needing any additional hardware on premise, something companies have been salivating over for years. While many organizations are looking to either implement Skype for Business Voice in the cloud for the first time or migrate their on premise solution to Microsoft, there are still many organizations that are interested in installing / keeping their Skype for Business / Lync environments on premise.
The Office 365 E4 sku ($22/user/month), which currently licenses users for Enterprise voice on premise will be discontinued on June 30th, 2016 leaving organizations to change their licensing model or their architecture for Skype for Business. Below are a few options that organizations can take, and should start planning on now.
Remain On Premise – License with E3 & Skype for Business Plus CAL’s & SfB Server Licenses
The Office 365 E3 subscription ($20/user/month) provides the user with all of the functionality that the Skype for Business / Lync Standard and Enterprise CAL’s provide, and therefore they simply need the Plus CALs to gain Enterprise Voice functionality. This may be the right route for organizations looking to remain on premise for two or more years and therefore get the full ROI from the capital investment for those CALs and existing infrastructure (gateways, servers, server licensing, etc.). Organizations would have the option of going with Software Assurance for those CALs to ensure that they are always licensed for the newest edition of the server and client editions.
Remain on Premise – License with E5 & Skype for Business Server Licenses
The Office 365 E5 subscription ($35/user/month) provides users with all of the functionality of the Skype for Business / Lync Standard, Enterprise, and Plus CALs, as well as additional functionality. The local servers still need to be licensed, and SIP connectivity would need to be purchased by a certified SIP provider, but wouldn’t need the additional add-on for PSTN Calling ($12/user/month for domestic calling and $24/user/month for both domestic & international). This option may be enticing for organizations that prefer the OpEx model over CapEx and can see the benefit of the additional features that come with E5 compared to E3.
Migrate to Cloud PBX – License with E5
By moving to the purely cloud option with full E5 integration, companies can eliminate their entire on premise Skype for Business environment and use the infrastructure provided by Microsoft. This would be an entirely OpEx model and would put management of the environment on Microsoft’s shoulders, providing the maintenance and updates to the SfB environment throughout perpetuity. This is an enticing option for companies looking to go fully cloud and reduce internal management costs.
There are additional options and Chinese-menu type approaches for licensing Skype for Business / Office 365, and PEI assists organizations in understanding the differences from a cost/benefit standpoint, as well as integration and migration assistance. If you would like to better understand how Skype for Business could be a business differentiator for your organization, please give us a call at (303) 974-6881 and we will help explain the options available to you.
Martin Feehan, PEI