Microsoft 365 Enterprise wall

Microsoft 365 Enterprise: The Ultimate Guide [SPE]

Read about the evolution of Office 365 Enterprise
Last updated: October 4, 2017

Enterprises will spend 62 percent of their IT budgets on productivity applications in the next two years.


Because early adopters are already harnessing the power of the cloud to feed employee innovation and improve business results.

As such, this guide will thoroughly explain the ways in which Microsoft 365 Enterprise [formerly SPE] allows you to become more agile and customer-centric.

In addition, we’ll cover the optimum structure of a modern workspace, the benefits of Microsoft 365 Enterprise and, how it can help keep your business and data secure.

Moving solutions to the cloud

So, before we get into discussing the various elements that combine to create Microsoft 365 Enterprise, let’s jump an initial hurdle:

Why move workplace solutions into the cloud in the first place?

remote guide

Well, as we move towards a more digital, mobile-ready marketplace, there is an opportunity for organisations to capitalise on cloud-based productivity suites and reshape their workplace.

With that in mind, here are three, ironclad reasons you should use cloud-based products in your business:

  1. Employees can work and collaborate from anywhere – at any time – across a range of devices. Say goodbye to restrictive security practices and flaky VPN connections.
  2. The power of public cloud allows organisations to respond in an agile manner to user demands through native scaling and provisioning of resources.
  3. Security teams can understand who is accessing their data and where it is located. Protecting data, not devices, with access controls, encryption and cloud storage.

What is Microsoft 365 Enterprise? 

Microsoft 365 Enterprise is a licensing strategy that enables you to access a range of productivity solutions from one place.

The bundle includes the Office 365 suite, Enterprise Mobility + Security and Windows 10 – offering a simpler approach to:

  • Purchasing cloud services
  • Enterprise security and management
  • Collaboration and mobility
  • Business intelligence and analytics 

Note: there is also a Microsoft 365 Business, which provides similar, but not enterprise-grade functionality.

You may also know that Microsoft has now released the new on Office 2019, see more details. 

Different versions: E3 or E5

In order to cater to the needs of different organisations, Microsoft offer 365 Enterprise in two variants (or SKUs) – Enterprise E3 and Enterprise E5.

Each include variations on the three core solutions as noted above. You can see a chart detailing these below [click to see in more detail]:


Combining to form a singular solution

While traditional solutions require a complex combination of siloed technology, Microsoft 365 Enterprise offers flexibility and freedom.

With Office 365 Enterprise, Microsoft is aiming to be not only the best provider of the available technologies, but also the best solution. The integration between Microsoft services enables both consolidated reporting for IT & security and consolidated access for users.

As Bobby Berry, an SVP at Fruit of the Loom, puts it:

We use Microsoft 365 Enterprise to foster a modern and highly secure workspace for employees empowered by teamwork and collaboration—everything we need to succeed in a global, digital market.

Building a modern workspace

Moving beyond Microsoft 365 Enterprise, there are some key strategies you must considerwhen creating a sustainable, digitally-empowered workforce.

What does this mean exactly?

From a practical perspective, we can think of the modern workplace in terms of core building blocks or, by analogy, the construction of a house.

1. Foundational Engineering: the external structure, making up the ‘walls’ of your environment and providing the foundations for all future projects. Examples of technology rolled out in this stage include:

  • Active Directory Federation Services
  • Azure AD Conditional Access
  • Larger on-premises remediation (Active Directory cleanses and remediation to meet best practice)

2. Security: this is all too often an afterthought.

However, any successful workspace proof-of-concept (POC) needs to take into account every aspect of your environment. In doing so, you’ll be able move beyond business gatekeepers such as Information Security (InfoSec).

Think of it as the roof of a house before you begin building; poorly constructed security layers will lead to data breaches and leakages that could otherwise have been avoided.

Elements 3, 4 and 5 are the critical end-user projects.

These are the elements of Microsoft 365 Enterprise that deliver the ability to work anywhere, any-time & anyhow.

With that said, they are only achievable once you complete stages 1 and 2 in a forward-thinking manner.

Thereafter, business-focused outcomes can be mapped and aligned with the requirements of IT, thus establishing the best way to achieve the end state.

Most importantly, through employing a staged approach to rollout, you can prioritise user adoption and standardises the processes.


Microsoft 365 is more than just a new licensing bundle

If you’re currently using a combination of on-premises solutions alongside Office 365, Enterprise Mobility + Security, and Windows 10, switching to 365 Enterprise licensing can reduce monthly costs and simplify licensing management.

But here’s the kicker:

There’s more to Microsoft 365 Enterprise than just easier licensing.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise’s growing range of features and integration with on-premises systems makes it more than just a promotional bundle. In fact, it can completely transform the way you distribute IT services to your users.

In addition, Enterprise 365 includes a range of on-premises CALs (Client Access Licenses), which include Exchange, SharePoint and Skype for Business.

The benefits of Microsoft 365 Enterprise

We’ve already discussed what you need to build a modern business. So, now let’s explore the exclusive benefits of Microsoft 365 Enterprise in this model.

1. Continuous improvement

One of the biggest drivers of Microsoft 365 Enterprise is its ability to remain evergreen.

With Microsoft in the middle of an impressive phase of R&D and acquisition integration, they are currently innovating at a faster rate than all their competitors.

This continuous improvement is advancing Microsoft 365 in two ways:

  1. Collaboration and iteration: new features are helping end users create new and innovative ways to meet enterprise demands. A great example of this is the recent release of Microsoft Teams, an enterprise-focussed chat service that consolidates existing solutions (SharePoint, Office 365 Groups and Skype for Business) into one dashboard for teams and business units.
  2. Security & analysis: acquired from market-leading organisations either through acquisitions (Hexadite) or partnership (Ping Identity). This has allowed Microsoft to build the Intelligent Security Graph (using data from xB authentication across Azure AD and Microsoft accounts). All this data is fed back into a machine learning algorithm to provide real-time threat intelligence and detection that is sent directly into your Azure AD tenancy or as an email alert.  

2. Manage shadow IT

18 percent of mid-market businesses say shadow IT is their biggest IT challenge.

Fortunately, with Microsoft 365 Enterprise & Microsoft Cloud App Security (CAS) you have the ability to measure the impact of Shadow IT in your system. For example, you can track whose using alternative non-IT managed solutions like Dropbox or Evernote at any given time.

Equally, you have visibility into those accessing files through personal solutions like Microsoft OneDrive.

With Shadow IT, the disadvantages of these practices is two-fold:

  • Data is stored in a location where IT or security have no control over it, creating valid concerns around data leakage. As we approach the introduction [25 May 2018] and enforcement of GDPR, this is becoming a critical business factor.
  • Employees use corporate email accounts for services and, more often than not, the same password for their work accounts. This opens up your corporate credentials and Active Directory to attack when these passwords are compromised via 3rd party services.

To combat this issue, people have created sites like haveibeenpwned to track whether these credentials appear in any recent leaks. Microsoft are also deploying these services directly into Azure AD.

With all this data, IT can efficiently recommend & implement alternative, secure solutions to business problems whilst maintaining data security.

3. 24/7 working (and support)

Microsoft 365 Enterprise harnesses the power of the cloud to build efficient, global IT teams.

These teams are able to ‘follow the sun’, handing over work from one global region to the next at the end of their working day. By increasing fluidity, 365 Enterprise speeds up communication between workers and reduces the time response teams need to solve IT-related issues.

Services like Microsoft Teams allow global service desks to pick up where their colleagues left off with ease.

4. Monthly billing

Like many cloud packages, Microsoft 365 licensing costs can be paid per user, per month, making it easier to plan spending and set budgets.

Additionally, it can be purchased annually as part of an Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft.

This is good news for the CIO and the CFO who now has the ability to make the best choice for the business rather than being forced down the previous annulaised route of purchasing CALs for each user.

It gets better:

Compared to the cost of maintaining on-premises, legacy solutions, Microsoft 365 Enterprise costs are predictable and aligned with actual usage so there’s no risk of expensive over-provisioning.

5. Aiding the old and the new

One of the greatest values of Enterprise 365 is how transformative it is for both the IT approaches of start-ups and organisations with more heritage infrastructure.

Here is the comparison between the two:

Start-ups: cloud-first solutions
  • Organisations work from a clean slate that enables them to scale rapidly.
  • Deployments are cloud-only, with little or no links to on-premises legacy infrastructure.
  • SaaS-based apps or externally-hosted partner applications are used across the board.
  • No historic technical debt.
Legacy organisations: hybrid environment with on-premises commitments
  • Constant migration to a cloud environment from on-premises systems.
  • A huge degree of complexity from legacy hardware, software and processes.
  • Slower, more piecemeal deployments as the organisation get larger (often region by region).


You’ll notice that the foundations of your solution are crucial to your ability to secure end-users and increase flexibility.

There is no doubt that more established organisations are looking to move from legacy configurations, in order to more speedily achieve their goals.


Examples of Microsoft 365 Enterprise

Enterprise 365 delivers benefits across a large number of one-time scenarios, as well as on a BAU day-to-day process. Here’s are some helpful examples:

Mergers, Divestitures & Acquisitions (M, D & A)

M, D & A is one of the most complex projects that can come from the business to IT at any given time.

Traditional plans for this scenario include getting a network path configured between datacentres, next follows a two-way Active Directory forest trust and then a long pause.

As such, users are peacefully co-existing in two forests accessing each other’s resources. And these pauses can be a matter of weeks, months or in some cases years.

Now for the good news:

Microsoft 365 offers the flexibility to keep on-premises infrastructure separate in a merger, while integrating both halves of the business into the same cloud services & Office 365 tenancy.

This allows easy, native access to each other’s resources and services. But it also provides the ability to create cookie-cutter patterns & processes to use for the on-boarding of new business entities.

Automated on-boarding

As mentioned above, in the case of an acquisition, some organisations can easily take up to nine months to complete the first stages of on-boarding a new part of their business and, in some scenarios, they never actually finish this process (increasing environment complexity & technical debt).

The cloud not only automates on-boarding processes, but also ensures they are ‘location independent’.

With Microsoft 365 Enterprise you can develop your on-boarding process at scale, with a single IT technician deploying an automated system. No longer do you need to use the valuable time of Enterprise & Solution Architects to get organisations peacefully co-existing and externally branded as one.

In the event of relocation, Microsoft 365 can save you time and money.

New offices and systems simply require an Internet connection to tap into your Microsoft resources and a secure VPN to integrate with Azure or on-premises datacentres.

Peaks and troughs

Industries like health, social, retail & recruitment go through peaks and troughs of growth.

Therefore, they incur costly annual licensing plans, whereby they pay for this usage all year round, rather than what they need and use.

In contrast, Microsoft 365 Enterprise provides enormous benefits in the data retention space for these businesses. This is because organisations may need to retain the emails and data generated by seasonal or temporary workers for up to seven years for compliance purposes.

When doing so on-premises, one must deploy a cumbersome and expensive system like Enterprise Vault or preserve file data on file servers. In doing so, the storage costs can quickly add up.

For example, if you take a seven-year archiving model, and factor in the number of staff you on-board each year, you’ll soon find your on-premises data centre is struggling to keep up.

However, by default, all data retained in Office 365 is kept while the user licences are active, in addition, this data can be held in place even after departure with “In Place Hold” & eDiscovery configuration.

Data breaches

Equally, with such a large turnover of staff, data leakage is a pressing issue for intellectual property protection & also for GDPR compliance in the coming years.

The good news is that Microsoft 365 Enterprise provides a tool-set that lets you manage and provision accordingly.

You also have tools like Azure Rights Management & Information Protection, which classify and protect data in native Office applications. Whereby access can be immediately revoked – rendering the documents worthless without an authenticated account to access the files with.

Don’t just take my word for this, here are some real-life case study examples of Microsoft 365:

Summary: Committing to your future with Microsoft 365 Enterprise

More than half of organisations (55 percent) struggle to re-architect apps to work in the cloud. Microsoft 365 Enterprise changes all of that.

With Microsoft 365’s productivity tools you can:

  • Collaborate and innovate on an enterprise-wide scale
  • Access your work from any location
  • Manage user on-boarding and access
  • Increase transparency and control

While this is achievable with on-premises legacy infrastructure, the flexibility and scale of Microsoft 365 helps enterprises reach new heights in a rapidly developing market.

‘Line-of-business leaders everywhere are bypassing IT departments to get applications from the cloud and paying for them like they would a magazine subscription’, says Gartner analyst, Daryl Plummer.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise provides the foundational security and productivity your organisation needs to compete in modern business with minimal cost to your bottom line.


We’d love to hear how your thoughts on this guide, or if you have any further questions. Feel free to drop us a comment below.

Topics: Cloud, Microsoft

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