Microsoft is retiring its Office 365 E4 suite and replacing it with a new and updated E5 suite before the end of 2015. Yes, it's true. In July 2015, Microsoft announced the release of yet another new plan for Office 365, the E5 Plan.

E5suite.real.time.communicationAccording to Microsoft, E5 will encompass the core value of Office 365 productivity and collaboration capabilities, as well as significant new innovations, including new Skype for Business services such as Cloud PBX and Meeting Broadcast; Power BI & analytics features, like Power BI Pro and Delve Organizational Analytics; and new advanced security features, such as eDiscovery, Customer Lockbox, and Advanced Threat Protection.

Did You Get All That?

The top seven features bundled into the forthcoming E5 suite include:

  1. Skype for Business Meeting Broadcast
  2. PSTN Conferencing
  3. Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling
  4. Power BI Pro
  5. Delve Organizational Analytics
  6. Customer Lockbox
  7. Advanced Threat Protection, Skype Meeting Broadcast

Skype Meeting Broadcast enables organizations to broadcast a Skype for Business meeting on the Internet to up to 10,000 people, who can attend from a browser on nearly any device. Meeting broadcast makes it easy to host large virtual meetings like internal “Town Hall” style meetings and public webinars. Additionally, the E5 suite will provide a significant new opportunity for partners to build new service offerings around real-time communication and analytics, and to reach new customers with important new security features. 

Some Big Changes. Some Small. 

For example, Customer Lockbox is designed to provide unprecedented customer control over their content in the rare instance that a Microsoft engineer may need to reach across to trouble-shoot a support issue. In an effort to maximize data security and privacy for users of Office 365, Microsoft contains customer data requiring nearly zero interaction. Customer Lockbox will also be available for Exchange Online standalone plans by the end of the year, and for SharePoint Online standalone plans in the first quarter of 2016.

Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) hardens subscriber email environments by blocking bulk email at the IP address level. The new service evaluates known bulk email offenders through advanced machine-learning identifiers, and then rates the reputation of a sender and frequency of mailing, thereby marking known spammers. Microsoft provides built-in safe lists and threshold levels for the administrator as well.

Speaking of resources, the Office 365 Customer Service Center features a roadmap for Office 365 that can help. In fact, that site outlines features organized by what has been launched, what is rolling out, what is in development, and what has been cancelled. You can also follow the Microsoft team bloggers, and the Office blog which is particularly good.

Stay SharePoint SavvySharePointJimKane

The reality is, users have to stay on top of things. Features are added and removed – such as the ability to save a site as a template, which for publishing sites now must be done via powershell. 

As always, the more you know, the more successful you and your team can be using SharePoint – whether online in Office 365 or on premise.  Become that “functional” expert, you don’t have to be a developer to be a SharePoint expert.

Keep in mind, business teams: 

  • Migrating to Office 365 has its own challenges.
  • A “lift-and-shift” migration to Office 365 is merely moving your current SharePoint sins - folder in folder, no metadata, sprawling content, old content and more. 
  • Take the time to clean up your content.
  • Re-architect content to be more efficient.
  • Add retention and compliance if necessary.
  • Look at how to use SharePoint to really solve business problems instead of using it as a fileshare.

E5: Feature Rich & Worth A Look

There is much to like in Office 365.  And now SharePoint 2016 will essentially be similarly coded as the cloud version, so hybrid scenarios for search, collaboration and integration will dramatically improve. 

SharePoint Online Whitepaper