If you’ve been on my site previously you will have probably noticed that I’m a huge fan of the Microsoft 365 Business offerings and the capabilities it includes. The team responsible for it have done amazing things in terms of adding additional capabilities in under two years, including the following list…

  • Office 365 Business
    • Shared Computer Activation
    • Archive Mailbox in Outlook
    • Native RMS and AIP
    • DLP
    • Office 365 ATP Plan 1
    • eDiscovery
  • Azure Active Directory
    • Password write-back to on-prem AD
    • Conditional Access
  • Intune
    • iOS, Android and MacOS MDM support

These are only some of the changes over the last few years, and help to explain why Microsoft 365 Business makes sense for many organisations. It’s also been great to see Microsoft 365 Business specifically mentioned in the documentation for some of it’s components, such as the licensing requirements for Windows Autopilot. Trying to explain where Microsoft 365 Business fits based on people’s understanding or lack thereof for Office 365 Business Premium is helped when there’s more awareness in general.

Two of the licensing requirements for unreleased products that I’m currently watching closely are for Microsoft Connected Cache and Desktop Analytics. At the time of writing neither are explicitly including Microsoft 365 Business as a supported licensing mechanism. Let’s take a look at Microsoft Connected Cache first.

Microsoft Connected Cache

Microsoft Connected Cache will be managed via the Azure Portal, where you can deploy and provision new instances of Connected Cache to your on-premises infrastructure. But what does it do? It’s effectively a Delivery Opimization cache, so you won’t have a dependency on other machines being on the network, being powered on, and having the updates or installs you require to benefit from Delivery Optimization. Remember that Delivery Optimization isn’t just for Windows Update For Business cumulative and feature updates, but also drivers, firmware, Microsoft Store apps, Office and Click To Run updates.

There’s a catch though… at least for Microsoft 365 Business users… the subscriptions currently listed as the requirement for this when it goes live are one of the following subscriptions

  • Microsoft 365 Enterprise E3 or E5
  • Windows 10 Enterprise E3 or E5
  • EMS E3 or E5
  • Office E3 or E5
  • Office 365 A3 or A5

What you will notice here is that Microsoft 365 Business isn’t listed explicitly, and it doesn’t contain any of the other subscriptions that are included, instead it is a close variation of some of them. This could just be a case of product teams needing to be educated about different subscription types in market, and it wouldn’t be the first time an SMB focused offering wasn’t something that was top of mind for an enterprise focused team, which isn’t something you can really blame them for.

Back to Microsoft Connected Cache being deployed and configured via the Azure Portal… I mentioned that I’m already a fan of using other Azure based technologies as part of your Microsoft 365 Business deployments, including Azure Sentinel as a Security Information and Event Management solution (which I should probably post about…), and previously this has extended to Windows Analytics which is mostly being replaced by Desktop Analytics.

Right now we have two different issues with Desktop Analytics and SMB customers. The first of these is that there isn’t a pure Intune option, it has to be connected to Configuration Manager based environments. This is something that is being addressed, so I won’t focus on that. Instead let’s take a look at the licensing requirements…

  • Configuration Manager. (Intune includes a CM client licence, so I’m not fussed about this)

    but here is where it gets less positive for Microsoft 365 Business customers…
  • Windows 10 Enterprise E3 or E5 (included in Microsoft 365 F1, E3, or E5)
  • Windows 10 Education A3 or A5 (included in Microsoft 365 A3 or A5)
  • Windows Virtual Desktop Access E3 or E5

At this point, I’m still not sure if this is something that is going to be addressed to help make sure that Microsoft 365 Business doesn’t get relegated to a secondary choice by SMB customers, but like the licensing with Connected Cache this is something I’ll be posting about later, regardless of where the licensing ends up going.