Understanding E4 in Office 365 – subscribing to Enterprise Voice

Microsoft Lync Server 2010 offers a number of flexible deployment options. Amongst other things it can be deployed on premises and hosted directly by Microsoft:

  • On premises: To deploy Lync on premises, users need a license for each Lync Server 2010 instances and Client Access Licenses (CALs). Users can acquire standalone licenses for Lync, or purchase licenses in combination with other Microsoft products in the Core CAL or Enterprise CAL Suites.
  • Microsoft-hosted: For a Microsoft-hosted Lync deployment, a User Subscription License (USL) is needed for each user. Similar to on-premises Lync licensing, Users can purchase Lync Online standalone or in combination with other Microsoft products as part of the Office 365 Suite.

Lync Server 2010 provides all the functionality that is available with Lync Online. In addition, Lync Server includes Voice and PBX capabilities that enable organizations to replace or enhance traditional telephony solutions with the Lync next generation communications platform.


It is important to note that the Lync technology does not support coexistence between Lync Online and Lync Server using a single domain. Therefore, it is not possible to deploy a subset of users in Lync Online and other users on-premises using a single domain name. Lync federation can be used to enable users to communicate between Lync Online and Lync on-premises deployments, using different domain names. It is not possible to split Lync workloads (IM, online meetings and Voice/PBX) between the cloud and on-premises. For example, it is not possible to deploy IM and meetings in the cloud with voice on-premises for a single user. If you want voice you will need to run your own server (or have it hosted at a hoster).

Picture 1: Plan E3 and lower

Picture 2: Plan E4

Picture 3: Licensing and Deployment


Licensing comparison

So how does the on-premises licensing compare to the Microsoft hosted E4 subscription if you look at a Lync scenario with enterprise voice? In either case you must purchase and deploy a Lync Server on-premises. The difference lies in the way you purchase the client application and the needed CALs:

On-Premises licensing
If you purchased the CALs, the licenses would amount to USD 245* up front per user (Standard CAL + Enterprise CAL + Plus CAL)

The E4 subscription is USD 27 per user per month and includes SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, Office Web Applications and Office Pro Plus. If you subscribe to Lync Online in a standalone scenario the USLs are as follows:

  • The Lync Online Standalone Plan 1 is USD 2 per user per month (compare to the Standard CAL).
  • The Lync Online Standalone Plan 2 is USD 4.5 per user per month (compare to the Enterprise CAL).
  • The Voice CAL in E4 is USD 3 per user per month  = the difference between E3 and E4 (compare to the Plus CAL)

    see this comparison chart for more on Lync Online plans

So the USLs amounts to USD 9.5 per user per month before service pack savings. Usually you’ll save a little less than 40% if you subscribe to an Office 365 service plan (like E4) instead of subscribing to standalone plans. Taking into account the service plan savings we can set the total USL to appx USD 6 per user per month.

In other words you have a choice between CAPEX and OPEX at a rate of appx 40:1. Thats more than three years.

See also

  • Microsoft Lync Pricing and Licensing – link
  • Configuring On-premises Lync Server 2010 Integration with Exchange Online – link
  • Checklist: Connect Lync Server 2010 to Exchange Online UM – link
  • Planning, Implementing, and Using Microsoft Lync Server in Small Business Scenarios (en-US) – link
  • Case study: “Social Enterprise Reduces Costs and Expands Services with Flexible Cloud-Based Solution” – link
  • Case study: “Marketing Firm Fosters Creativity with Online Collaboration, Saves $49,000 in IT Costs” – link

*All prices in the blue column above reflect pricing for Open (No Level) retail purchases within the United States and are in US dollars as of December 1, 2010. The prices listed are license only estimated prices (not including SA); reseller pricing can vary by program and volume. Please note that prices are subject to change; contact a reseller or Microsoft account representative for specific pricing.  See Microsoft Lync Licensing Guide for more.

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