Microsoft 365 or M365 is a subscription service that provides customers with access to Office 365, Windows 10 Enterprise, and Enterprise Mobility and Security. M365 was developed to reduce the complexity of integrating these Microsoft products securely and efficiently.

It can be challenging for companies to get the most out of an M365 subscription. Multiple subscription options can be confusing to negotiate. Important issues like data protection need to be effectively addressed when storing valuable information in M365. We offer some tips and strategies for maximizing the value of your company’s investment in M365.

Types of M365 Subscriptions

Microsoft offers multiple home and business subscription plans. We’re going to focus on the differences in its business plans. All M365 subscription plans offer users a one-month free trial.

Microsoft 365 Business Basic – $6.00 per user/month

The Basic subscription provides web-based and mobile versions of Microsoft Office apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Outlook. It includes Microsoft Teams with the ability to hold meetings of up to 300 participants and 1 TB of cloud storage. Additional features include standard security, business-class email, and anytime web-based or phone support.

Microsoft 365 Apps for Business – $8.25 per user/month

This subscription model gives users desktop, web, and mobile versions of Office applications with premium features. It includes standard security, 1TB of cloud storage, and anytime support. Desktop-only versions of Access and Publisher are part of the Apps for Business subscription.

Microsoft 365 Business Standard – $12.50 per user/month

The Business Standard subscription provides everything that comes in Business Basic and adds desktop versions of Office apps with premium features. This plan lets customers host webinars and furnishes attendee registration and reporting tools. Customer appointments can easily be managed with this subscription model.

Microsoft 365 Business Premium – $22.00 per user/month

The Business Premium subscription gives customers all of the features in Business Standards with the addition of advanced security capabilities, cyber threat protection, and access and data control functionality.

As you can see, there is a wide variance in the prices and the features included in each type of subscription. This variety can make it difficult to determine the most appropriate subscription for a company. In many cases, a combination of different subscriptions is the most effective way to address the needs of multiple departments or teams.

Managing Your M365 Subscription

One of the attractive features of M365 is the flexibility provided through its multiple subscription plans. Organizations need to monitor and manage their M365 subscriptions for the following reasons.

  • Subscriptions may need to be modified and additional features added to address evolving business requirements.
  • Fluctuating numbers of remote and onsite employees may require licenses to be added or removed regularly.
  • Users may not need the extended functionality and features of premium subscription plans.

Ineffective subscription management can result in lost productivity when users don’t have access to the apps they need using their preferred devices. It can also lead to overspending when licenses are not dropped when they are no longer needed by a team or individual or additional and unnecessary features are included in the subscriptions.

Protecting Your M365 Subscription

Enterprises use M365 to store and process their valuable data resources. Business-critical and customer-impacting workflows and processes may depend on the ability to protect the information and applications effectively. M365 offers native backup and data protection features, but these may not meet customers’ business requirements. Built-in M365 data protection is limited in several ways.

  • Backups and archives may not address business policies and requirements.
  • Backups are hard to search for e-discovery purposes.
  • Restoration is limited to the Microsoft 365 cloud environment.

In regulated industries, additional measures need to be taken to ensure compliance with data availability, privacy, and security standards. The use of third-party data protection tools is highly recommended to fully protect a company’s M365 environment.

A company needs to integrate M365 backup and recovery capacities with its overall business continuity or disaster recovery strategy. They may want the flexibility to restore the environment to alternate locations which is impossible using native M365 backup capabilities. Choosing the right third-party data protection tool will enable flexible restoration of the M365 environment.

Optimizing Your M365 Subscription

Usage drives the cost of your M365 subscription as with all cloud-based services. Effective monitoring and controls are necessary to ensure the product is used efficiently and costs are kept under control. Subscriptions and usage need to be reviewed regularly to optimize the value of M365.

Tools that can report on license allocation and application usage allow organizations to optimize M365 subscriptions and obtain the most value for their money. Without this information, it is impossible to achieve an optimal M365 environment.

Work with an Experienced Partner

One of the best ways to manage, protect, and optimize an organization’s M365 subscription is with the help of an experienced managed service provider. VAST  is a Microsoft Gold Partner and can help organizations in all phases of using M365 from migration to cost optimization.

VAST’s familiarity with the intricacies of M365 subscriptions makes it an excellent source of information that helps businesses maximize the benefits of M365 while keeping important data assets safe. VAST specifically addresses the issues of optimizing, managing, and protecting your M365 investment with the following tools and services.

  • VAST offers subscription and usage reviews that customers can use to optimize their M365 environment. VAST can also scan your on-premises apps to make sure you are not wasting resources with unnecessary and duplicate functionality.
  • VAST can handle subscription management including adding and removing licenses for its customers. They also support self-service subscription management with VAST’s MyCloud Portal.
  • The additional M365 data protection mandated by business requirements can be addressed through VAST’s relationships with multiple industry-leading vendors. They can identify the right third-party solution that meets your company’s M365 data protection needs.

VAST can help your company use M365 efficiently, protect your data, and eliminate unnecessary spending on this popular productivity solution.