Microsoft’s Office 365 E5 offering now allows organizations to license their entire user base for Skype for Business with Enterprise Voice and Conferencing without needing any additional hardware on premise, something companies have been salivating over for years. While many organizations are looking to either implement Skype for Business Voice in the cloud for the first time or migrate their on premise solution to Microsoft, there are still many organizations that are interested in installing / keeping their Skype for Business / Lync environments on premise.

The Office 365 E4 sku ($22/user/month), which currently licenses users for Enterprise voice on premise will be discontinued on June 30th, 2016 leaving organizations to change their licensing model or their architecture for Skype for Business. Below are a few options that organizations can take, and should start planning on now.

Remain On Premise – License with E3 & Skype for Business Plus CAL’s & SfB Server Licenses

The Office 365 E3 subscription ($20/user/month) provides the user with all of the functionality that the Skype for Business / Lync Standard and Enterprise CAL’s provide, and therefore they simply need the Plus CALs to gain Enterprise Voice functionality. This may be the right route for organizations looking to remain on premise for two or more years and therefore get the full ROI from the capital investment for those CALs and existing infrastructure (gateways, servers, server licensing, etc.). Organizations would have the option of going with Software Assurance for those CALs to ensure that they are always licensed for the newest edition of the server and client editions.

Remain on Premise – License with E5 & Skype for Business Server Licenses

The Office 365 E5 subscription ($35/user/month) provides users with all of the functionality of the Skype for Business / Lync Standard, Enterprise, and Plus CALs, as well as additional functionality. The local servers still need to be licensed, and SIP connectivity would need to be purchased by a certified SIP provider, but wouldn’t need the additional add-on for PSTN Calling ($12/user/month for domestic calling and $24/user/month for both domestic & international). This option may be enticing for organizations that prefer the OpEx model over CapEx and can see the benefit of the additional features that come with E5 compared to E3.

Migrate to Cloud PBX – License with E5 (Cost the Most)

By moving to the purely cloud option with full E5 integration, companies can eliminate their entire on premise Skype for Business environment and use the infrastructure provided by Microsoft. This would be an entirely OpEx model and would put management of the environment on Microsoft’s shoulders, providing the maintenance and updates to the SfB environment throughout perpetuity. This is an enticing option for companies looking to go fully cloud and reduce internal management costs.

Move from E4 to E3

If you move from E4 to E3, your subscription will cover the Skype for Business Standard CAL and the Enterprise CAL, but will lose the Plus CAL, which covers the enterprise voice functionality.
In order to cover the Plus CAL without needing to upgrade to E5, you have two options. The first option would be to purchase the Plus CAL through Volume Licensing, which would be the capital expenditure approach.
If you would like to keep the operational expenditure approach, you will need to purchase the Skype for Business Plus Add-On subscription through Office 365. If you leverage CSP/MPSA/EA for licensing, you need to request this license through your licensing partner.
If you manage your subscriptions directly from the Office 365 admin portal, you would go to Billings > Subscriptions > Skype for Business Online (Plan 2) and go to the Add-on subscriptions tab. This will bring up three options, which you will want to purchase the Skype for Business Plus CAL ($2/user/month) for all users that leverage Enterprise Voice. Your E3 subscription covers the Skype for Business Online (Plan 2) license, so you will simply keep the parity in price that you’re currently paying for E4.


The Pricing Scenarios We’ll Use – Office 365, Hybrid, On-Premise

So for this post, we’ll show you Skype for Business 2015 pricing in 3 different scenarios.

Scenario 1: 25 users. Office 365 account/Skype for Business Online.
Scenario 2: 25 users. Full on-premise Skype for Business Server 2015.
Scenario 3: 25 users. Hybrid deployment; Office 365 for primary Skype for Business services, on-premise Skype for Business Server for Enterprise Voice.

Scenario 1: Office 365

This is the easiest to identify. We even have two options: a standalone Skype for Business Online plan, or bundled with Office 365.

Standalone Skype for Business Online Plan Pricing:
Online Plan 1: $2.00/user per month
Online Plan 2: $5.50/user per month
With 25 Users: Online Plan 1 costs $50/month. Online Plan 2 costs $137.50/month.

Office 365 Pricing (with Skype for Business Online included):
Enterprise E1: $8.00/user per month
Enterprise E3: $20.00/user per month
With 25 Users: E1 costs $200/month. E3 costs $500/month.

This scenario works for: Small/new businesses, cloud-friendly businesses.

Scenario 2: On-Premise/Skype for Business Server 2015

Since we learned last week that a license is required for every Front End server in Skype for Business Server 2015, let’s assume 1 Front End in our On-Premise scenario.

  • 1 Front End Server License (MSRP) – $3,646.00
  • 25 Standard User CALs – $36.00 each, or $900 total
  • 25 Enterprise User CALs (Conferencing & desktop sharing) – $124.00 each, or $3,100 total
  • 25 Plus User CALs (Voice & call management) – $124.00 each, or $3,100 total

Total: $10,746.00

This scenario works for: Enterprises, businesses who want Persistent Chat and/or on-site data storage.

Scenario 3: Hybrid (Office 365 with a Skype for Business Server running Enterprise Voice)

In this scenario you could use either E1 or E3 for Office 365. I’ll use E3, assuming you want full hybrid capabilities.
25 Office 365 users, E3 plan – $500/month, or $6,000/year.

Skype for Business Enterprise Voice is installed on-premise.
1 Front End Server License (MSRP), required to establish Enterprise Voice functionality – $3,646.00
25 Plus User CALs (for Enterprise Voice) – $124.00 each, or $3,100 total
Total (for 1 year): $12,746.00

This scenario works for: Cloud-cautious businesses, businesses with an existing Exchange Server or Office 365 accounts.