Understanding M365 and Azure AD Licensing

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Microsoft 365 is a great fit for small businesses.

Why? Its robust inclusion of products and services:

  • Microsoft Office
  • OneDrive cloud storage
  • hosted email,
  • your own business domain (e.g., mybusiness.com),
  • shared calendars,
  • shared storage and files,
  • video and audio conferencing, and
  • real-time collaboration through Microsoft Teams (source).

Add in Azure Active Directory, a “cloud-based identity and access management service” that replaces on-premises domain controllers (source), and you’re covered by even more security features, including “single sign-on, multifactor authentication, and conditional access to guard against 99.9% of cybersecurity attacks.”

Sounds great . . . until you’re ready to choose a licensing plan. The landscape is complicated, and the choices feel endless.

Getting Started

No matter how many times we research licensing for a new customer with less than 300 users, the answer is always the same:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard (email and desktop apps), plus
  • Azure AD basic (management and security) and
  • InTune (endpoint management for mobile devices and apps).

As of December 2022, a Microsoft 365 Business Standard license is $12.50 per user per month (source). With that subscription, Azure AD basic is free. If you add InTune, you’ll pay an additional $2.70 per user, bringing the total PUPM to $15.20.

This setup will standardize your email and desktop apps across your small business, whether on-prem or off, while also allowing for easy management and strong security.

What About Azure Premium 1 and Premium 2?

Maybe you’ve thought of upgrading from Azure AD (free version) to one of the premium options. If so, the first question to ask is, What does the extra cost get you?

Both Azure AD Premium 1 and Premium 2 offer “more demanding identity and access management needs” (source). For instance, AD Conditional Access, which allows administrators to “prompt users for multi-factor authentication during certain scenarios or events to fit your business requirements” (source).

P1 costs $6 PUPM, in addition to Microsoft 365 Business Standard.

Premium 2 “adds risk-based Conditional Access . . . that adapts to user's patterns and minimizes multi-factor authentication prompts” (source).

P2 costs an additional $9 PUPM.

Unless your small business has a specific reason for Conditional Access—for example, you want to set up a rule so that users who are physically in your building don’t have to use MFA—there’s really no reason to upgrade to the premium versions.

Microsoft 365 Business Standard vs. Business Premium

If you’re curious about the benefit of Microsoft 365 Business Premium over Business Standard, the difference is simple: with Business Premium, InTune is included and so are Azure AD P1 and Azure Information Protection, which allows you more control over “email, documents, and sensitive data that you share outside your company” (source).

The price for Business Premium, however, is high, at $22 PUPM.

Again, unless you have a specific need for high-level security, it makes more sense to go with Business Standard, plus Azure AD (free) and InTune. The cost savings is $6.80 per user, which can add up quickly.

Team Computer Software

Now What?

When it’s time to get everyone in your small business on the same page, it’s time to talk about Microsoft 365 for Business.

WYRE can help. We're not only a Microsoft partner—we also have extensive experience installing and managing Microsoft products for small businesses like yours.

Contact us today, and let us help make your technology goals a reality.

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