Understanding subscriptions, licenses, accounts, and tenants

Are you confused about how to mix and match subscriptions and licenses across Microsoft’s cloud offerings?

I hope not. But if you are, the new Subscriptions, licenses, accounts, and tenants for Microsoft’s cloud offerings article attempts to make all of this clearer by discussing the structure of:

  • Organizations – Subscriptions – Licenses – User accounts

Here is a quick recap:

  • An organization, identified by a specific public DNS domain name, can have multiple subscriptions
  • A subscription can have multiple licenses
  • Licenses can be assigned to individual user accounts
  • User accounts are stored in an Azure AD tenant

Here is a visual example:


There are also some differences in subscriptions, licenses, and tenancies between Microsoft’s Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings (Office 365, Microsoft Intune, and Microsoft Dynamics 365) and Microsoft Azure's Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings, which the article describes.

Please use this article to clarify how to mix and match subscriptions and licenses within an organization and use a common set of user accounts across Microsoft’s cloud offerings.

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