April 25, 2014

Worth a second look: Office 365′s small business plan

More than enough for most SMBs.

Office 365 comes in two key licence types: Small Business and Professional, and Enterprise. (There are also education, dedicated and government licences but we won’t get into those.) Businesses of any size can purchase either plan but there are key differences between the two.

It’s much easier to focus on the limitations of the Small Business and Professional (aka “P”) licence:

 

  • Limited to 50 users
  • Only one type of licence available
  • Cannot add additional SharePoint storage
  • No BlackBerry calendar/contacts sync via BlackBerry Email Server (email is fine though)
  • Upgrade to Enterprise plans requires complete migration out of Office 365 and back in to new plan with potential downtime
  • No Active Directory synchronisation
  • Single SharePoint site collection
  • No encryption for SharePoint traffic
  • No 500MB My Site for each user

 

There are several more limitations which are not necessarily relevant for non-technical people. For all of those reasons many IT professionals cry foul over the P licence and do their best to avoid it. However, I think the context of the P licence is sometimes missed. Especially in Australia, where a majority of the workforce is employed by SMBs, the P plan actually presents amazing value.

Many organisations never plan to expand to more than 50 users, mainly work within Office documents and don’t have much data, have no on-premise server infrastructure, and use smartphones other than BlackBerry.

For $7.90 per user per month you get:

 

  • An enterprise-grade Exchange mail system with 25GB inboxes and free anti-virus and anti-spam filtering,
  • A SharePoint intranet site with more features than the free SharePoint Foundation edition that requires an on-premise server and can scale up to 35GB of storage
  • The ability to share that intranet site with up to 500 external people
  • Office Web Apps that allow you to edit documents within SharePoint Online using only a web browser
  • A web & PC based conference solution that supports up to 250 guests
  • Break/fix support via phone or email provided by Telstra
  • And much more

 

Despite its limitations, the P plan provides a lot of features for little cost and is incredible value for small businesses.

 

Loryan Strant is a Microsoft Office 365 MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Follow him on Twitter @TheCloudMouth.

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