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Microsoft 365 Business Premium vs Microsoft Business Standard

By: Aaron Coleman, Iconic IT Infrastructure Administrator

Aaron Coleman, Infrastructure Administrator, Iconic ITThere is a lot of talk and more than a little confusion about Microsoft offerings since the release of Microsoft 365 earlier this year.  Before I get into the differences between Microsoft 365 Business Premium and Standard, let’s take a look at Microsoft 365’s platform.

Microsoft 365 is an all-inclusive suite of cloud-based productivity tools. All Microsoft 365 plans include cloud-hosted Exchange (email server), OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams. Further, all the services and applications integrate with each other in some form or another. For example, the “Files” tab of Teams is a SharePoint document library associated with the Team/conversation.

The best choices in Microsoft for businesses are Microsoft 365 Business Premium or Microsoft 365 Business Standard. There are clear reasons to choose Microsoft 365 Business Premium over Standard, however, and at less than $8 additional per month, it’s well worth the price. What is the Difference Between Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Premium?

What is the Difference Between Microsoft 365 Business Premium and Standard?

Where Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Premium differ is in their Device Management and Information Protection aspects. Microsoft 365 Business Premium includes Intune, as well as Azure Information Protection Premium Plan 1. The latter is where the bulk of the value comes from.

What is Intune?

Intune is a centralized cloud-hosted device management platform. It effectively replaces on-premises Domain Controllers/Group Policies with a web-based control center. In Intune’s infancy, there were significant drawbacks to operating a business in an Intune-based environment. These flaws have been improved, and Intune continues to evolve.

Intune comes with a slew of standard out-of-the-box (platform) management tools that simply were not easily usable in Group Policy-based environments before. As an example, to encrypt a disk using BitLocker meant Group Policies could be deployed, but they did not allow for granular control over the encryption methods used. Later versions also relied on a single point to store the BitLocker keys, but Intune stores them in the Endpoint Management section under the record for a specific device. The former can be very cumbersome when trying to extract out a single recovery key when needed, but Intune allows for near-instant retrieval.

What is Azure Information Protection Premium Plan 1?

Azure Information Protection Premium Plan 1 provides the foundation for hardening your Microsoft 365 environment. Conditional access, email archiving, eDiscovery searches, sensitivity/retention labels, Data Loss Prevention plans, and outgoing email encryption are just a few of the benefits included with this piece of Microsoft 365 Business Premium.

Conditional access is one of the most valuable pieces of securing your Microsoft 365 environment. In the Azure Active Directory admin center, an administrator can define parameters to allow or deny logons based on seemingly endless options such as the location of the IP address, total number of active sessions, and time of day. More in-depth flags can be defined as well, like how up-to-date Microsoft Edge is or, conversely, how out-of-date it is. All these factors can be considered on top of a Multi-Factor Authentication system to ensure that the right user is logging in on the right device at the right time.

Other Benefits of Microsoft 365 Business Premium

Sensitivity and data retention labels are another area where Microsoft 365 Business Premium really adds value over the Standard and Basic offerings. For example, if your business banks with Chase Bank, your administrator could go in and set all emails coming from Chase Bank as non-forwardable, and create settings to retain the email for 3 years or 180 days past deletion (whichever is greater). At the same time, emails that are not coming from Chase Bank have a 180-day lifecycle.

The same data labels can be used in a document that contains information about (not necessarily directly from) the Chase bank accounts, flagging it to be retained for the same 3-year lifecycle or 180 days post-delete. This ensures that the correct data for your organization is accessible, while also helping with housekeeping in removing older and irrelevant data automatically.

The Clear Winner? Microsoft 365 Business Premium beats Microsoft Office Standard, hands down.

The Microsoft 365 Business suite adds tremendous value over its Office 365 counterparts. As of September 2020, Microsoft 365 Business licensing starts at $6.00/user/month for the Basic plan and goes up to $20.00/user/month for the Premium plan. The Microsoft 365 Business Standard plan prices at $15.00/user/month with no commitment, and $12.50/user/month with an annual commitment. Discounts are given on Basic and Standard for choosing an annual commitment.

Learn More About Teams

We get a lot of questions about Microsoft Teams, from finding documents to managing channels, recording meetings, chatting, video calls, and more. Teams is a vital part of Microsoft 365 for sharing, storing, and collaborating on files, but it can seem a little overwhelming.

Iconic IT’s free on-demand webinar, Ultimate Microsoft Teams Demo: Get the most out of Teams + Q&A session, will help you cut through the confusion and use this powerful tool to increase your productivity, connectivity, and efficiency.

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