Skype for Business - licenses, clients and add-ins demystified


So, you are planning to implement Lync Skype for Business Online for your company. Nothing too difficult, right? Turns out - not so much. Right now there are several licensing options with different clients for Skype included. How to choose what, what are the differences, what are the available add-ons? I will try to shed some light on the above questions.

So to start things up - what are the licensing options for SfB Online? You could go with standalone or with a subscription that would include that product. So what's available at the moment:

Standalones:

  • Skype for Business Online Plan 1
  • Skype for Business Online Plan 2

And skype comes as a part of several other subscriptions...

Business:

  • Business Essentials
  • Business Premium

Enterprise:

  • Enterprise E1
  • Enterprise E3
  • Enterprise E5

Additional to that there is offer for Education, Government and non-profit organizations, but let's focus on traditional model for today.

So - what is the difference between the plans? It is easy to see when we look at one particular source - service description:

Skype for Business Online service description

To sum up - what you get with P2, that is not available in P1:

  • Sharing - Desktop sharing, Application sharing, file transfers, video-based sharing (unless they are invited by Plan 2 user for the desktop, application and video-based sharing)
  • SfB Online meetings - basically everything available in P2, nothing in P1 (see the link above to check details)

 

How it stands with subscriptions - it used to be considered very simple - P1 for Business/E1 plans and P2 for the other. Unfortunately it changed a little bit as well. I will not showcase all the differences here, but to pinpoint few most important features:

  • The SfB Online meetings that are unavailable in P1? - available in Business plans and Enterprise plans (except for PSTN Conferencing add-in which I will explain later).
  • Skype Meeting broadcast - only in Enterprise at the moment.
  • Voice options - a lot of differences here, if you plan to deploy hybrid - you should really focus on this part.
  • Archiving - that actually depends on whether or not you have Exchange Online with archiving or not.

And that’s pretty much it. However - not quite… All the plans (both standalones and subscription packs) support all the clients, BUT not all the plans have all the clients. What am I talking about? Check the note at the top of the standalone comparison table:

SfBNote

 

In short - we support the Skype for Business full client, but do not provide it in that subscription (same with Business subscriptions!). Oh, I might have forgot - there is not only one client for SfB - there are several 🙂

So what kind of clients are available? Well, we mostly differentiate between two (not counting the web apps) - the SfB Full client and Basic client. To get the full client you basically need to subscribe to one of the Enterprise plans - E3/E5 or a standalone ProPlus ( so the Office application pack). For everyone else, that is SfB standalone, business plans and E1 subscribers - you can get Skype For Business Basic.

So what are the differences there? Mostly voice support. Unfortunately the links on the TechNet site are sometimes taking us to old comparison table. Fear not - there is table for the new versions available!

Client comparison table Skype for Business

Biggest differences (apart from voice support I mentioned already):

… Pretty much nothing. You still get the audio/video calls or conferences. You can send and receive IMs, check the status of others and send files.

This is really important as I have been asked few times already "why we cannot use full client" while a lot of you do not need the features in the full client. This of course does not apply to people who deploy voice within their companies.

So we have talked about the licenses and clients. What is left - add-ons. At the moment you have few options:

You can check what is what in the hyperlinks above, but a short intro - PSTN Conf enables you to connect to ongoing conference using your mobile phone, Cloud PBX is basically a phone system and PSTN Calling - connecting SfB to line phones without the on premise infrastructure.

So what add-ons are available for what subscription? Check the link below:

Skype for Business Online add-ons

With PSTN Conferencing - available for all Enterprise customers, SfB Online Plan 2, O365 ProPlus and Business Premium. If you have plan other than the ones listed - you should consider an upgrade.

As a side note - for small/medium companies it might be a good idea for only ONE person to have upgraded plan + PSTN Conferencing add-on. That person should then schedule the conferences and provide the option to call-in.

For Cloud PBX - well, you need the Enterprise plan. If you use standalones or Business subscriptions you have to upgrade.

As for PSTN Calling - since one of the requirements is having cloud pbx the requirements are the same.

IMPORTANT! Remember that the Enterprise E5 licenses have the PSTN conferencing and cloud pbx add-ons included!

Also important that some of the subscriptions (for example bought from partners) will not have the add-ins available online. Check the link above for more information!

So, with all that information I hope it is a little more clear for you. If you have any questions - do not hesitate to comment! All feedback is very welcome.

Cheers!

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