Microsoft 365 is a Cloud-based bundle of bundles, including a suite of productivity, as well as enterprise mobility and security (EMS), which contains mobile device management and identity management. Two popular licensing options are Microsoft 365 E3 and Microsoft 365 Business Premium. But what are the differences between these two plans, and which one is right for your organization?
Let’s start with a key question: How many users does your organization have?
If you are under 300 users, then Business Premium is a no-brainer. For 40% less cost, you get more functionality! Microsoft knows that they must compete with Google in smaller clients, so they offer a better package for them than for their Enterprise clients.
If you have more than 300 users, then Microsoft 365 E3 is going to be the way to go as Microsoft will only allow you to license 300 users of Business Premium. Also, Business Premium is not even available in Microsoft Enterprise Agreements.
Regardless of size, many clients will choose to move up to Microsoft 365 E5 as it offers the most advanced security packages, tons of compliance functionality, and features like phone system and business intelligence.
The packages are extremely similar:
Business Premium and E3 bundles have a ton of functionality in them which includes productivity, security, management, and collaboration.
- Office packages – including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc with mobile and web functionality
- Office 365 functionality – including Exchange, Teams, OneDrive, SharePoint
- Security functionality – including Intune, antivirus, anti-malware, multifactor authentication with conditional access, and Purview Information Protection
- Management tools like – Bitlocker and Windows Autopilot Deployment, email archiving and legal discovery
- Financially backed Service Level Agreement
- Audio conferencing for meetings
- PowerApps and Power Automate functionality
- Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Plan1 – next-generation antivirus and malware protection that comes with E3
What is better about Business Premium:
The price! The cost of Microsoft 365 Business Premium is $22 per user per month on an annual plan versus $36 per user per month for Microsoft 365 E3. That is a major savings!
Security functionality – Microsoft knows that security functionality doesn’t change that much among various company sizes and chose to include two of their Defender solutions in the Business Premium bundle - Defender for Office 365 Plan 1 and Defender for Endpoint for Business.
Defender for Office 365 Plan 1- Microsoft’s powerful advanced email filtering includes safe link rewrite, deep email scanning, reporting and more. M365 E3 only has basic email filtering included which is mostly spam and virus filtering.
Defender for Endpoints Business – Defender for Business is part of the Defender for Endpoints suite of products and provides more advanced functionality than what is included in M365 E3 by providing advanced Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) capabilities that every business should have. It also includes powerful threat and vulnerability management tools and automated incident investigation and remediation which is even more important for small businesses with limited IT staff. In fact, Defender for Business is highly similar to Defender for Endpoints P2 with the exception of access to Microsoft Threat Experts Service. This additional feature is part of Microsoft 365 E5 or as an add-on service. It is not included in M365 E3.
What is better about Microsoft 365 E3?
Microsoft 365 E3 is designed for organizations that require advanced capabilities beyond the standard productivity suite and with more complex environments. Here are the key features that make E3 an attractive option for businesses:
- Email – additional 50GB of storage (100GB versus 50GB) Note: This challenge can be surmounted by either licensing large mailbox users with M365 E3 or archiving out some of the data.
- OneDrive – unlimited storage versus 1TB per user for Business Premium
- SharePoint – is the same – 1TB per tenant and 10GB per user in a pooled shared storage
Support / Compatibility:
E3 provides Windows 11 Support for 36 Months, versus only 24 Months of Support for Business Premium.
Office OS Compatibility – Office for E3 is compatible with Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016, and the three most recent versions of macOS, whereas Business Premium doesn’t provide Windows Server compatibility and only supports the two most recent versions of macOS.
Enterprise Mobility and Security
Intune – Both E3 and Business Premium include application management, device management and endpoint analytics; but E3 also includes Config Manager which provides more advanced functionality to manage on-premises devices such as Windows PCs and servers.
So which Plan is best for you?
Determining which plan is the best fit for your organization depends on your specific needs and priorities. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:
- Company size: If your organization has fewer than 300 users and requires a comprehensive productivity suite with built-in security and device management features, Business Premium is likely the better option. However, if you have more than 300 users or anticipate rapid growth, E3 may be a better fit.
- Security and compliance needs: If your organization has strict compliance requirements or needs advanced security features, Business Premium has a stronger set of included tools, but E3 provides a more viable upgrade path to E5 security and compliance.
- Budget: Business Premium is generally more affordable than E3, making it an attractive choice for cost-conscious SMBs. However, weigh the benefits of E3's advanced features against the additional cost to determine the best value for your organization.
To learn more about which Microsoft 365 Plan may be the right solution for your organization, contact the Microsoft experts at Interlink today!
About the author
Jimmy Smogor is the Security Practice Lead at Interlink. Jimmy started at Interlink over 8 years ago while in college and has developed immense expertise in the world of cybersecurity. He has expanded his knowledge of Microsoft Security to assist our clients by leveraging Microsoft’s security stacks, whether it’s a simple deployment of Multi-factor for sign-in or leveraging Defender for Endpoint EDR with Microsoft Sentinel for automated playbooks. Jimmy is continuing to grow his expertise in cybersecurity and the advantages of Microsoft Security.
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