What really is included in Office 365 E5?

Apr 18, 2017 | Blog, Microsoft Licensing, Office 365, Productivity | 0 comments

Navigating the Microsoft licensing suite can be rather confusing, but thankfully the main set of options available for Office 365 Enterprise Plans come in the form of the E1, E3 and E5 licencing plans.

Each plan contains a set of features starting with the essentials (E1), then the core set of features most organisations require (E3), and then in the E5 suite, advanced functionalities that are very valuable to organisations who want to really get the most out of Office 365.

In this post, we’ll set a baseline of what you can expect out of the core Office 365 enterprise suite, then explore what you get in addition when you subscribe to the E5 suite.


E1 and E3 demystified


Out of the box, even with E1, you get quite a lot of stuff. With E1, you get all the core Office 365 services like email, document management, collaboration and unified communications – apart from Office 365 Pro Plus, the offline installed version of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and so on.

In addition to being able to install Office, E3 adds in functionality essential for organisations that need to protect data to meet business requirements, like ensuring data cannot be tampered with or deleted, ensuring only the right people can access information and ensuring that data isn’t accidentally shared with the wrong people.

The table below elaborates on what you get with each:


Exchange Online50 GBUnlimited
SharePoint Online
Office 365 Video
Microsoft Teams
Skype for Business
OneDrive for Business
Office Online
Office 365 Pro Plus
Compliance and eDiscovery
Rights Management
Data Loss Prevention

Enter the Office 365 E5 suite…


Microsoft’s Office 365 E5 suite has been around for a little while now and over time has grown to include additional functionality, and as such is considered the premium package for organisations looking to take as much functionality as they can from Office 365.

In addition to the functionality you get with E3, you get the following when you subscribe to E5:

  • Advanced Threat Protection
  • Advanced Security Management
  • Advanced eDiscovery
  • Customer Lockbox
  • PSTN Conferencing
  • Cloud PBX with add-on PSTN Calling
  • PowerBI Pro
  • MyAnalytics

We’ll take a look at each of those to help you understand what each offers.


Advanced Threat Protection


Microsoft’s Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) offering provides additional security on top of functionality like Exchange Online’s malware protection to help provide protection against zero-day unknown threats sent not only over email, but also with data users upload to Office 365.

One of the biggest threats organisations face is phishing attacks using either remote websites that host dangerous malware, or attachments emailed to people that contain malware that has not yet been identified by anti-virus vendors.

ATP works in two ways – first of all, it can check the URL within a message against a known database of threats and provide a real-time scan. This works by replacing the link in the message with one that redirects via a Microsoft site, meaning that even if the URL was safe when it was sent, any changes to the site will be detected later on.

The second layer of defence uses a sandboxing technique to scan attachments and documents in a secure environment where the attachment is automatically opened and monitored to see if it does anything malicious.


Figure 1: Example of ATP detecting a malicious link sent in an email

Figure 1: Example of ATP detecting a malicious link sent in an email


Using the ATP functionality in the E5 helps organisations remove the need for third-party anti-spam vendors and additionally, by extending the functionality into other services in the Office 365 suite provides protection that’s hard for those third-party vendors to achieve.


Advanced Security Management


Office 365 Advanced Security Management, or ASM, is designed to provide enhanced, straightforward to use visibility into the Office 365 environment.

At a high level this works in a few ways. Firstly, you get the ability to detect and understand threats by gaining visibility into high-risk usage, abnormal usage, security incidents and detected threats, which you can then triage and deal with.


Figure 2: Example of an alert generated by ASM

Figure 2: Example of an alert generated by ASM


Secondly, it allows you to leverage granular controls over the security policies that apply to the Office 365 environment. Finally, you get visibility and context into Office 365 usage without the requirement to install agents on client machines.


Figure 3: ASM's Cloud app discovery

Figure 3: ASM’s Cloud app discovery


Advanced eDiscovery


E3 plans come with eDiscovery functionality that’s very capable. Advanced eDiscovery finds a purpose applying intelligence to help explore and analyse unstructured data within Office 365 to better understand what’s actually relevant.

A great example of this is where a legal case requests data from a range of user’s mailboxes to analyse. Instead of providing them with lots and lots of data that isn’t relevant to sift through, Advanced eDiscovery provides the tools to provide just the relevant data, reducing the bills associated with getting legal teams to do the tough work of finding what they need.

It works firstly by using predictive coding so that it can be trained to automatically distinguish between likely relevant and non-relevant documents. Then it can look at documents in context to identify relationships between them, then use duplicate detection to organize the data, performing intensive tasks like re-constructing email threads so that people don’t need to.


Figure 4: The Advanced eDiscovery admin interface

Figure 4: The Advanced eDiscovery admin interface


Customer Lockbox


Lockbox is a standard feature in Office 365, and is part of Microsoft’s standard processes to ensure that customer data (e.g mailbox data, documents) is not accessed inappropriately.

This works by ensuring that when Microsoft engineers need to access your data, they must put a request into the Lockbox system. This will then be approved by a Manager before they have access for a short period of time.

Customer Lockbox puts you into the equation. The Lockbox system not only requires that the request is approved by a manager at Microsoft, but also by the customer themselves, as shown below.


Customer Lockbox


The result of this is additional confidence in the security of the data, and for some customers it helps provide the assurance needed that data can only be accessed by certain personnel in the right circumstances.


PSTN Conferencing, PSTN Calling and Cloud PBX


Really, the functionality of Cloud PBX, PSTN Calling and PSTN Conferencing deserve a blog post of their own. For some organisations, this is the key selling point of the E5 suite, especially for those who have run Skype for Business (or earlier) on-premises, or desire to replace their old telephone system.

PSTN Conferencing, also available as a standalone offering is one of the easiest add-ons to get immediate value from when you add E5 to an existing user’s licence.

Typically, when users have Skype for Business Online, they’ll make great use of meeting functionality to schedule ad-hoc and planned meetings with colleagues. However, although the experience to join from a PC or mobile with the right apps on is good, it’s sometimes a little difficult.

For example, if you forget your headset or you don’t have great data connectivity on your mobile. PSTN conferencing allows people to join purely from phone, like a conference bridge number, or when joining from a Skype for Business client, to get the client to dial them at a traditional phone number. It’s a quick-win and easy add on that makes it even easier to have a great meeting experience with anyone.

Cloud PBX takes things even further. At its simplest it can be a full replacement for your on-premises phone system. By enabling Cloud PBX for a user, they have the ability to get a dial-tone and attempt to make calls.

Then, there’s two options. If you want to leverage your existing PBX system during co-existence, or to use existing SIP trunks or ISDN lines, then you can connect Cloud PBX back to on-premises, via either a Skype for Business Hybrid or a pre-packaged installed set of virtual machines known as Cloud PBX, which effectively act as the bridge to your existing telephony:


Figure 5: Hybrid model for Cloud PBX with on-premises telephony integration

Figure 5: Hybrid model for Cloud PBX with on-premises telephony integration


Or, if you want to keep things simple, you can subscribe to Microsoft’s PSTN Calling package which allows you to avoid any on-premises infrastructure and make and receive calls direct from Office 365:


PSTN Calling

Figure 6: PSTN Calling


Power BI Pro


Business Intelligence has gone through several iterations. In the old days, IT business analysts used to run reports against databases and other organisational data, process the data and then provide custom reports to the business and end users. More recently, Business Intelligence platforms used techniques like data warehousing to collect data from different sources, and then IT would design reports that end-users could run on demand.

Power BI brings things to the next level by bringing the potential to allow the business full control over the entire reporting experience – making it easy to consolidate data from multiple sources into the cloud, and then create dashboards and use natural language queries to search and create custom reports both online, via the desktop app and on mobile devices.


Figure 7: Example of a PowerBI dashboard

Figure 7: Example of a PowerBI dashboard


Data sources Power BI can use include simple data sources like Excel and CSV files, but also SQL server, analysis services, Azure SQL, Stream Analytics or even cloud-based services like Salesforce or custom corporate data sources.




All Enterprise plans come equipped with Delve, which allows users to find and discover relevant content to them from various sources like email, SharePoint and OneDrive for business based on who they interact with and the types of document they work on. The key to that is the Office Graph, which is Microsoft’s technology for automatically understanding relationships between people and data within the organisation.

The same foundation is used with MyAnalytics, which is intended to help provide employees with the tools they need to become more productive. MyAnalytics provides a dashboard for employees to use to understand their day to day activities, like how much time they spend in email, meetings, out of hours working, who they collaborate with the most, how much time they spend with their manager and who they are losing touch with, alongside relevant advice

For example, are they needed at meetings with particular people, are they spending more time multitasking in meetings or spending more time than they realise replying to emails outside of work hours.


Figure 8: MyAnalytics dashboard

Figure 8: MyAnalytics dashboard



The E5 suite comes with a growing number of extra features – some of our customers find even just one of these products provides enough value to make the jump, but increasingly we see at Content and Code that a combination of multiple E5 services provides a great deal of value – especially with functionality like Advanced Threat Protection, Power BI and PSTN Conferencing.

What do you get with Office 365 E5?

Watch our on-demand webinar and learn all there is to know about Office 365 E5


About our author

Steve Goodman

Steve Goodman

Principle Technology Strategist | MVP - Exchange & Office 365

Steve is a 5 times recipient of the MVP (Microsoft’s Most Valuable Professional) award from Microsoft, is a regular international conference speaker, podcast host, regular blogger, plus he is the author of a number of best-selling Exchange books. Steve has worked on a vast number of Exchange and Office 365 projects across customers large and small, often with complex requirements and would love to help you on too.


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