At the recent Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Orlando, Microsoft announced plans to release a new premium Office 365 offering later in 2015. John Case, Corporate Vice President of Office Marketing, proudly announced the new Office 365 Enterprise Suite, which will be known as E5, during his keynote address.
In a blog post following the live announcement, Case stated that the new capabilities will include some significant capabilities (which I’ll copy from his blog):
The Skype for Business and Customer Lockbox features are, I think, some interesting features of the E5 suite.
PSTN Conferencing allows users to invite others to a Skype for Business meeting in Office 365 and have them join by dialing in using a landline or mobile phone. This is an enhanced capability from the traditional connection, which is initiated and authenticated through a PC. From a user perspective, this reduces the dependency organizations have on third-party dial-up services that automatically apply a telephone number to a Skype for Business call for a fee. The conferencing solution will also allow users to dial-out and add others to a meeting or conversation.
As Microsoft announced on April 21, 2015, Customer Lockbox will allow customers explicit control in instances where a Microsoft engineer may need access to customer content to resolve specific customer issues. This is an enhancement to the functionality offered with Lockbox today, which operates as an enforcement layer on access control through multiple levels of approval within Microsoft. This new capability will provide customers with unprecedented control over their content in the service.
Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling provides a more traditional interface for phone calls through Skype for Business. Outbound telephone calls to existing land lines through Skype for Business, which is currently not available, will also include enhanced features including hold, resume, forward and transfer. From my perspective, this is a natural next step and something I look forward to using. Each of these features will enhance the user experience and provide a more integrated solution overall.
From a planning perspective, organizations must work together to plan ahead for this release. Those using an existing conferencing solution would be wise to review their contracts and establish a go-forward plan for how E5 will change their conferencing needs. Thinking proactively, I estimate that E5 will be in place by November, 2015.