Office 365 is the name for Microsoft’s subscription plans that include Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, OneNote, and Outlook) and productivity services (Skype for Business and Exchange Online hosted email) that are offered over the internet as a cloud service. Also written as “O365,” the plans allow for monthly “rental” of software that is updated automatically, without ever needing to replace it with newer versions. There are plans offering additional services at different price points for business and enterprise to meet the needs of different organizations (starting with O365 Business Essentials at $5 per user per month).
The O365 Enterprise 5 plan (E5) adds impressive phone and conference features to Skype for Business, the platform which provides instant messaging, presence status, audio and video calling. Skype for Business replaced Lync earlier this year, combining the features of Lync and Skype. The new features make it possible for companies in the U.S. to use Office 365 for all of their communications needs:
Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling
In addition to providing the ability to make a call to another Skype for Business user, PSTN Calling makes it possible to make and receive traditional phone calls from the Skype for Business client using IP phones, computers and mobile devices, eliminating the need for a traditional phone service or for a separate VoIP provider. You can even keep your business phone number. The setup requires an emergency address to be set so that, in case of emergencies, you can call 911 for help. Cloud PBX provides the features needed to manage the calls just as you would with a traditional phone, including hold, resume, forward, transfer, simultaneous ring, team ring and delegation.
Skype for Business Meeting Broadcast
Skype for Business provides the ability for up to 250 people to meet online. Meeting Broadcast enables companies to broadcast a virtual meeting for up to 10,000 participants! This eliminates the need to use a competing online conference provider to offer meetings and trainings to a large number of attendees. Meeting Broadcast also enables attendees to join the meeting from a browser on almost any device, and even allows attendees to rewind, pause and resume playback without affecting the broadcast.
While Skype for Business allows for a conference through the Skype for Business client, this feature enables invitees to also join the meeting by dialing in from a landline or mobile phone.
Microsoft’s new productivity suite aims to move companies off of multiple systems – in other words, to persuade companies to get all of their services on a single platform provided by Microsoft. E5 replaces E4 as Microsoft’s most complete – and highest priced – offering. In addition to adding Cloud PBX, Meeting Broadcast and PSTN Conferencing, it brings together all the benefits of the productivity and collaboration capabilities available through the Office 365 suite, with several additional features including Power BI Pro, Delve Organizational Analytics, and new security features including eDiscovery, Customer Lockbox, and Advanced Threat Protection. The cost is $35 per user per month, or $420 per year, plus PSTN Calling fees of $24 extra per user per month for international and domestic calling, or $12 for domestic calling only. In addition, PSTN Conferencing users incur additional per-minute charges.
If your business does not need all of these features, note that companies can also benefit from the Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling using other O365 plans. It is offered as an add-on to the E1 and E3 plans at a cost of $8 per user per month, plus $24 per user per month for international and domestic calling, or $12 for domestic calling only.
Should your organization consider Office 365? Do you need more information to determine which O365 plan is right for your company? Call us and we’ll be happy to discuss the options with you.