Important Microsoft 365 Licensing Changes & New Features
Security remains one of the biggest concerns and most challenging responsibilities facing businesses today. With a rise in cyberattacks targeting small and medium-sized businesses, threats are becoming increasingly automated and indiscriminate, and striking at a significantly higher rate. In the last year, we’ve seen a 300% increase in ransomware attacks with over 50% reaching small businesses. To address this, Microsoft is investing in security solutions purposefully designed to help protect them.
MS Business Premium just got a lot better!
The biggest Microsoft product announcement in 2021 for Small-Medium Business (SMB) customers was Microsoft Defender for Business, an Enterprise-grade endpoint security solution which is based on the wildly successful Microsoft Defender for Endpoint product. Microsoft Defender for Business will be included with Microsoft 365 Business Premium, which we consider to be the Gold Standard Microsoft 365 subscription for SMB's, and Microsoft's top-of-the-line bundle offering for organizations with less than 300 users.
M365 price changes
The pricing that has been announced for General Availability (GA) at $3/user/month in the USA for the standalone version. Note, however, that the Business Premium bundle is on track for a modest price bump: it is going from USD $20/user/month up to USD $22/user/month, per an announcement from earlier this year. Even with the price increase, this SKU is still by far the best value in the Microsoft ecosystem, or indeed, any other ecosystem I am aware of (even more so now that we will have a full-bodied endpoint security solution included).
ANP has been encouraging our SMB clients to purchase Microsoft 365 Business Premium for all their employees and we encourage our clients to add Microsoft 365 E5 Enterprise licenses for the executive and finance staff who are prone to more intensified phishing campaigns. With the addition of Microsoft Business Defender, the most important additional security features found in the E5 enterprise license are now included in the Microsoft Business Premium subscription! This is a huge win for our SMB clients, you no longer need to purchase E5 licenses for your Exec and accounting teams.
New Features Available to MS365 Business Premium Users
Here are the new security features bundled into the Microsoft Defender for Business which will now be included in your Microsoft 365 Business Premium license subscription:
- Centralized Management
- Simplified Client Configuration
- Threat & Vulnerability Management
- Attack Surface Reduction
- Next-Gen Protection
- Endpoint Detection and Response
- Automated Investigation and Response
- Threat Analytics
- Cross Platform support for Windows, Android & Apple IOS and MacOS
- Partner API’s
- Microsoft 365 Lighthouse for viewing security incidents
The first thing to note about this list of features is that Microsoft Defender for Business is likely to be the only cyber security solution you need to deploy; you can stop subscribing to your old-school Antivirus software, and other 3rd party security tools. The set of cyber security features included in MS Defender is truly an Enterprise grade end-point threat detection product, something that was not in reach for most SMBs until now. This is exciting stuff folks!
The features we have in Microsoft Defender for Business are designed with the goal of making the higher-end security functionality easier to understand and implement. Now I want to stress here that you probably would not roll this out on your own, the features have been simplified so as not to require cybersecurity specialists, but that does not imply that there is no expertise required to implement and manage the product. Microsoft Defender for Business does still require some set up and configuration (e.g. off-boarding from previous endpoint solutions and on-boarding to the new service, as well as deploying policies and identifying any necessary exceptions, etc.). Your managed IT service provider should have the skills to roll this out and maintain it for you.
Public Preview first, then GA will see more functionality open up
The public preview for Microsoft Defender for Business should arrive within the next few weeks (no specific dates yet but very soon), at which time we will have an even clearer picture, and more to report. Understand that not all of the features will be available during the preview, and that more will be released in General Availability (GA), particularly with regard to Microsoft 365 Lighthouse (multi-tenant management capabilities for partners). I do not yet have a full comparison of what is going to be in Preview versus GA but as soon as I know I will get that information out.
What this means for small and medium size businesses
- You will now be able to implement a much higher level of protection to your business for fraction of the price.
- All of your employees now get the enterprise-grade security, rather than just your executive team – making your security posture better than ever before
- Your 365 business applications will be more secure
- Your MSP will be able to gain much more insight into the threat landscape of your business, streamline your security processes, and shut down any vulnerabilities, threats and more in a moment’s notice
- Microsoft understands that SMBs demand the same level of security as enterprise, and they’re improving their products offerings making it affordable for all customers.
Is your security posture up to par? Are you taking advantage of all of the features that come with your MS365 licensing? If you’re interested in learning more about Microsoft defender and would like to what ANP can do to improve your security contact us today at 215.572-0111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re happy to do a full M365 tenant and security assessment and provide recommendations on how you can increase your security, reduce your risks and get more value from your investment all at the same time.