Microsoft EMS & Intune price increases


Image by NikolayFrolochkin from Pixabay

Microsoft are adding a raft of new features to both EMS (Enterprise Mobility & Security) and Intune, these include:

  • Microsoft Tunnel VPN features for Android and iOS devices
  • Enhanced MacOS management capabilities
  • New endpoint analytics features
  • Various enhancements to Microsoft Endpoint Manager

These, and other, additions mean that Microsoft are putting the prices up. From July 1, 2021:

  • EMS E3 will increase from $9 pupm to $11
  • Intune will increase from $6 pupm to $8

However, the price for Microsoft 365 E3 won’t increase (and so one must assume that neither will E5) – making the bundle option that little bit more attractive.

See the Microsoft announcement here.

Microsoft add webinars to Teams


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It was announced a while back that webinar functionality would be coming to Microsoft Teams and details have been released at this week’s Microsoft Ignite conference – including the required licenses.

Features

Organisations will be able to add a customisable registration page to webinars – an example of which you can see below:

Source: Microsoft – https://cdn.techcommunity.microsoft.com/assets/MicrosoftTeams/Attendee%20Registration%20%26%20Email%20Confirmations.gif

Fully interactive webinars will be able to handle up to 1,000 (one thousand) participants with moderation available to control audio/video etc. and, should you need it, Teams can scale up to 10,000 participant “view-only” sessions. Microsoft are, for now, increasing that limit to 20,000.

You will also be able to download an attendee report showing attendance, participation etc. which is key for follow up. More reporting features are being rolled out over the coming months.

How is it licensed?

These new capabilities will be fully available as part of:

  • Microsoft 365 E3/A3/G3
  • Microsoft 365 E5/A5/G5

and will also be available in:

  • Microsoft 365 Business
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium

for up to 300 users.

I’m pleasantly surprised that this doesn’t require an add-on license – it’s quite possibly been done as in-built functionality to give them the best chance of fighting off the threat from Zoom et. al. If you have to pay extra to Microsoft, you might as well just stick with your existing provider but if it’s “free”…that likely changes matters for a lot of organisations.

Further Reading

You can see more info on these, and dozens of other new features coming to Teams, here.

Microsoft Viva: An introduction


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Microsoft Viva is a new announcement from Redmond, focused on the world of “employee experience”, in part at least driven by the changes that COVID-19 has brought to the workplace. It’s split into 4 products:

  • Viva Topics
  • Viva Connections
  • Viva Learning
  • Viva Insights

Viva Topics

This, via AI, automatically curates content from across an organisation to help people find information and answers from throughout the business – something more important than ever with so many now working remotely.

It costs $5 per user per month and, as an add-on license, requires one of the following as a base:

  • Microsoft 365 F1, F3, E3, E5, A3, A5
  • Office 365 F3, E1, E3, E5, A3, A5
  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic / Business Standard / Business Premium
  • SharePoint K, Plan 1, Plan 2

More info here.

Viva Connections

This Viva product seems aimed at helping keep remote employees connected as, according to Microsoft it will bring together “relevant news [and] conversations” from across an organisation – and surface it in Teams. They cite stats that highly engaged employees are less likely to leave and help generate greater profitability – it seems they’re trying to make HR software more mainstream.

More info here.

Viva Learning

This product will serve as a central hub for learning -enabling content form various sources to be presented to employees within Microsoft Teams. As well as Microsoft Learn and LinkedIn Learning, it looks as though partners will include companies such as Coursera, Pluralsight, SkillSoft, SAP SuccessFactors and more.

More info here.

Viva Insights

This looks to be an evolution of Workplace Analytics and will, in fact, require Workplace Analytics for many of the features to be enabled. It will help provide information to employees to enable them to reduce stress and increase productivity, with connections to products such as Headspace.

More info here.

Microsoft Product Terms, February 2021


Microsoft have stopped producing the standalone Product Terms document and have officially launched the Product Terms website as a replacement.

I’ve been a big fan of the Product Terms document for a long time and I’m not 100% happy about this change tbh! The ability to filter the site by program (EA, MPSA etc.) and product (M365, SQL etc.) will probably make it less confusing for many people – showing only the info that’s relevant to their search.

However, being able to see everything altogether was great for spotting any changes, missing bits etc. that Microsoft hadn’t highlighted and that isn’t as easy on the new site.

My initial concern was that not having a point in time downloadable copy would put customers and partners at a disadvantage, giving them nothing to reference in future conversations. However, having played with the site a little bit it turns out you can download a document from the site. It’s quite similar to the previous document although you have to filter by program, so you don’t get a document that allows comparison across the different licensing options.

The changes in February 2021 are:

  • Addition of Microsoft 365 F5 SKUs (more info here)
  • Planning Services & Training Vouchers SA Benefits have been removed
  • The free Audio Conferencing promos for EA/EES/CSP have been extended to June 30, 2021
  • Clarification that the Microsoft 365 E3/A3 Unattended license doesn’t require a Qualifying Operating System
  • Updates to terms for Azure Maps and Cognitive Services

Microsoft 365 F5 licenses


Starting February 2021, Microsoft have introduced 3 new “frontline” SKUs:

  • Microsoft 365 F5 Security ($8)
  • Microsoft 365 F5 Compliance ($8)
  • Microsoft 365 F5 Security & Compliance($13)

These are available as add-ons to the existing Microsoft 365 F1 and F3 SKUs and include “the majority of capabilities” from the E5 versions.

The Microsoft announcement is here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/licensing/news/new_f5_security_and_compliance_offer_for_frontline_workers

Microsoft 365 Security & Compliance additions


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It seems Microsoft will be adding some new security and compliance SKUS in February 2021. According to a post from Bytes, a top UK Microsoft partner and LSP, we will soon be able to purchase:

Premium Compliance Assessments

There will be a range of over 150 assessments available which can be added to any Office 365 E5 or Microsoft 365 E5 plan, at a cost of $2,500 per assessments per month.

10-year audit log retention to Advanced Audit

This will enable organisations to retain audit logs for up to 10 years and can be added to:

  • Microsoft 365 E5
  • Microsoft 365 E5 Compliance
  • Microsoft 365 E5 eDiscovery & Audit
  • Office 365 E5

for $2 per user per month.

Data Connectors to E5

This looks like it will extend Microsoft 365 security and compliance capabilities to 3rd party services such as Slack and Zoom. It can be added to any Office 365 E5 or Microsoft 365 E5 plan and will cost $400 per 500GB of data.

Conclusion

The Data Connectors are, I think, the most interesting. Back in November 2019, Microsoft launched a preview of Azure Arc, which enables organisations to run Azure technologies and policies across other clouds such as Amazon AWS, and this new addition is the same thought process. The first time we saw this was when Satya Nadella opened up Office across Apple and Android – making Office available on those devices enables Microsoft to sell more Office 365 AND reach new customers…customers who may eventually purchase other Microsoft services.

While Microsoft would love everyone in every organisation to use Microsoft Teams, they’re pragmatic enough to realise that will never happen – their competitors’ products will always exist…so why not make some money out of it? 500GB of data isn’t much so that $400 a month will quickly start to become a pretty big number of organisations! It also helps Microsoft retain relationships with these organisations, ensuring they stay updated on respective changes and have reasons to talk – giving the chance for future sales…

I’ll keep an eye for more information and, hopefully, an entry in the February 2021 Product Terms.

Microsoft Azure Purview


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The latest Azure offering, Purview, is a “unified data governance” service to help organisations manage data across their ever expanding environments – including on-premises, IaaS multi-cloud (Azure, AWS etc.) and also SaaS services. According to Microsoft, Azure Purview will offer automated discovery and classification of data, a map of where it all resides and how it relates to each other, easy searching to locate data, and an overview of how data moves across your organisation.

Given the increasing amounts of data we all create and collect, combined with the rising threat of cyber attacks – at a personal, corporate, and national level – this is a welcome introduction.

Pricing

Azure Purview is (almost) free to try until February 28, 2021 but we can already see an overview of how it will be priced going forward.

First of all, you need to provision the “Data Map” – this is priced based on 2 things…Capacity Units and metadata storage.

Capacity Units

This is a set of resources provisioned in order to keep your Data Map up and running. One Capacity Unit can support “approx. 1 API call per second” and is currently priced at $0.342 per hour.

Metadata storage

This stores the metadata associated with the scanned assets which enables the searching capabilities within Purview. Microsoft talk about this being in a “graph” format – so this appears to be another element of the “Microsoft Graph” being surfaced as part of a product. Pricing is yet to be announced but will be on a per GB basis…I can well imagine many organisations finding themselves with a HUGE amount of this metadata storage!

Scanning

When it comes to scanning your environment, this is charged at $0.63 per “v-core hour” that you consume whilst actively scanning. Microsoft state there will be no “incremental charges” for connectors to 3rd party datastores.

Almost regardless of cost, I think many organisations will find it hard not to use this service – given the worries, risks, and potential fines that data mismanagement can bring. Microsoft have made another strong move to position themselves as an integral part of the future of business. Even if everyone stopped using Windows and Office tomorrow, Azure Purview (and other new services) would keep Microsoft at the forefront of many an organisation’s mind for years to come.

Further Reading

Azure Purview page

Azure Purview pricing

Microsoft Product Terms: December 2020


As you’d expect, it’s a quiet month.

Microsoft 365 Business Voice, the SMB cloud telephony package, is added. Available via CSP and requires Microsoft 365 Business Basic/Business Standard/Business Premium.

The various name changes (ATP = Defender etc.) have (finally) been updated.

2 x Power Apps promotions that could be quite interesting have been added:

“Power Apps per App” promo = Available to new/existing EA/EAS/CSP customers & has a minimum purchase of 200.

“Power Apps per User” promo = Available to new/existing EA or EAS (not CSP) customers & has a minimum purchase of 5,000.

Microsoft Product Terms, November 2020


Just 2 product additions this month:

Microsoft Cloud Healthcare Add-on:
This can be added onto M365 E3/E5, Power Apps/Automate/BI, or a range of D365 licenses

GitHub Enterprise Æ <– 👀 Not sure if this is the actual name or a typo! As a couple of people have pointed out, it’s got a bit of an Elon Musk vibe 😂

Couple of promotions added too…

Free Audio Conferencing licenses for EA, EAS, and EES customers:
You need to have a paid sub with Teams.
Requires min. 20% Teams adoption within 6 months
Not available in China or India

Free audio conferencing for CSP & Web direct:
Free (up to) 12 months licenses are available via the admin portal, not in China or India.