What’s the Difference Between an E3 and E5 Office License?

Selecting and designing an ideal cloud storage environment is a major undertaking, and requires careful consideration, no matter the platform of your choice. Whether migrating to Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, or SharePoint Online, there are numerous choices that must be made, and making them based on an informed viewpoint is often the deciding factor when it comes to success in the cloud.

One of the most common questions that organizations have is specific to one cloud solution: Office 365. For its enterprise customers, Microsoft offers a number of different Office 365 licenses, with E3 and E5 being the most popular for large businesses. However, when embarking on an Office 365 migration, many organizations actually don’t know which license is best for them As such, we’re here to answer a major and crucial question: what’s the difference between an E3 and an E5 Office 365 license?

Getting to Know E3

The E3 Office 365 license might be considered the middle of the road option–sandwiched between E1 and E5. It’s fundamental features are those included in the E1 license: SharePoint sites (including both Teams and Team Sites), Skype for Business, Yammer for workplace socialization, Microsoft Email and Calendars with Exchange, video sharing, OneDrive for Business storage, and the Office Online suite which contains Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and more.

On top of these E1 features, organizations and users that purchase an E3 license receive access to Office client apps–the offline versions of all the applications available to E1 users in Office Online. E3 also comes with a number of additional data management tools and admin controls. With these features, IT can better manage archiving permissions, data loss issues, compliance nuances, and even encryption on a document by document basis.

While E3 is not the most basic option, it’s the baseline option for most organizations looking to migrate to Office 365, as its enhanced management, compliance, and security features address many data protection concerns that E1 isn’t as well equipped to handle.

Getting to Know E5

When most people wonder what the difference is between an E3 and an E5 Office 365 license is, they often oversimplify the answer, reducing it to an issue of added tools and nothing else. Certainly, the tools that come with an enhanced license such as E5 have much to recommend them (as you’ll see momentarily), but when making this decision, organizations need to ask themselves what tools they use most often, what tools they’re lacking, and how their end users operate in their current environment.

Much like E3 with E1, E5 contains all the features provided by and E3 license, plus additional security features, a super-charged version of Skype for Business, and enhanced compliance features. Most notable among the additions, however, are Microsoft’s Business Intelligence tools, which allow IT and admins to carefully analyze every single piece of data in their Office 365 environment. Business Intelligence is an immensely powerful feature, especially for an organization that has just completed a migration. At Cloud FastPath, we talk a great deal about the key role that analytics play in migration, but they’re equally important in storage. A major reason that enterprises opt to ditch servers is because of how difficult it is to keep track of and effectively understand the data stored therein. Office 365’s E5 license specifically addresses this concern, and does so through a set of powerful and easy to use tools.

While a less essential feature that often attracts businesses to an E5 license is the fact that the increase in price over E3 is relatively minor, all things considered–only 15 dollars more.

Discover the License That Works for You

What’s the difference between an E3 and an E5 Office 365 license? On the surface, it’s a question of features–and for many organizations that aspect is extremely important. Providing your users with the proper tools is critical, and opting to purchase a license that doesn’t give your teams what they need can have disastrous consequences, all but negating the whole point of the migration. On top of this, however, making the right choice requires asking how your organization is structured, what were your reasons for migrating in the first place, what’s been holding you back.

With these questions in mind, it’s far easier to make the right choice, and when you ask what the difference is between an E3 and an E5 Office 365 license, you’ll come upon a more meaningful answer than simply a list of bells and whistles. Office 365 is a magnificent solution for those looking to expand the way their organization works. Deciding on the right license is the first step towards your future.


Download our Data Migration Fundamentals Guide Below.