When is a Small Business not a Small Business – Office 365

There are some scenarios where Office 365 for Small Business (P-Plans) do not fit the bill.

(In fact I’d probably go for the opposite approach, look for a reason why a company would need a P-Plan rather than an E-Plan.)

Some of the reasons for going to a ‘lesser’ Enterprise subscription (E Plan) would benefit a customer;

  • Need Active Directory Sync – Ability to sync/manage user groups
  • Need advanced archive capabilities – Email archiving for legal compliance
  • Need BES – Blackberry Enterprise Server
  • Growing to >50 users – More than 50 PC organisation today or tomorrow
  • 24×7 Phone Support – Microsoft direct vs. community support

These are extremely important considerations to think about, the inability to upgrade from the P-Plan to the E-Plans is a key reason!

Although they are cheaper and offer ‘similar’ features, lower E-plans allow for growth by allowing bolt-ons of additional space if required and not having a restriction on the amount of users for a particular subscription. Does a 25 user company really want to be locked into a plan that has no room for growth? What if their product goes global? The idea of starting again wouldn’t be a welcome one for any business.

Microsoft Office 365 for Small Business <25 Users (P-Plan)

Following on from the Product Comparison post I have decided to delve a little deeper into the individual offerings and offer some advice as to what would best suit your customer.

The Small Business offering is designed for companies with less than 25 users, although you may be restricted by user licenses, you are by no means restricted with the product.

The Small Business package has the following capabilities/benefits for the customer;

Email –

  • 25GB Mailbox and attachments up to 25MB
  • Shared Calendars
  • Works on Windows Phone, iPhone, Blackberry (BIS Only), and Android.

Websites –

  • Easy to build public facing website.
  • 10GB Site storage + a further 500MB per user (25x500MB = 12.5GB potentially extra)

Anywhere Access* – (an asterix is included here to highlight the fact it is an online service, so a internet connection to your chosen device is required and not a part of the agreement)

  • Share and collaborate on documents
  • Join online meetings and present from anywhere
  • Office Web Apps for light document editing

Security and Reliability –

  • Microsoft’s powerful security features help protect your data
  • 99.9% uptime guarantee
  • Password protected team sites
  • Antivirus, anti-spam.


In order to receive the above benefits you will have the following as part of your P1-Plan

  • Exchange Email, Calendar, Contacts & Personal Archive
  • 25 GB Mailbox
  • ActiveSync Mobile Support
  • SharePoint Team Sites (One Site Collection, authenticated external user access enabled for up to 50 unique users/month.)
  • Office Web Apps
  • Simple Public Website (Includes ready-to-use templates, option to add custom domain.)
  • Online Access Databases
  • Lync Rich Client
  • Online Meetings (Limited to 50 participants)
  • Desktop Sharing
  • Multiparty IM & PC-to-PC Calling
  • Self-Help and Community Support.

For most small businesses this solution would be a great solution, however for a growing organisation you need to choose your plan carefully as the P-Plans┬ádo not have an upgrade path┬áto move to an E-Plan (at the time of writing – remember it is a service and can change!). The service is still stored on the same datacentres as the E-Plan customers but you just have a few limitations as mentioned below;

  • Phone/Ticketed Support Not Included
  • Capacity Limited to 50 users (no movement above this limit)
  • Unable to Upgrade from P1 to E Plan
  • One SharePoint Site Collection
  • Cannot purchase additional SharePoint Storage
  • Directory Syncronisation is not allowed
  • Federation (Single Sign On) is not supported
  • Custom Domain Validation requires Microsoft Name Servers (A technical aspect on a plan designed to be ‘non technical’?)
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