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Exchange Online vs Office 365: What Should You Choose?

Exchange Online vs Office 365: What Should You Choose?

For the uninitiated, Office 365 is the cloud-based SaaS offered by Microsoft that consists of a comprehensive suite of productivity applications including Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Excel, and Outlook for the desktop; and server-based applications such as Exchange and SharePoint.

However, many may be stuck with the dilemma of choosing between Exchange Online and Office 365. The Exchange Online vs Office 365 matchup is confusing because users can either opt-in for only Microsoft’s email solution, Exchange Online, or they can choose the complete suite of productivity applications by purchasing an Office 365 license. If your company is considering a migration to the cloud from on-premises servers running some edition of Microsoft Exchange Server (for example), this could be a genuine decision-making challenge.

Therefore, in this article, we will compare both products including Exchange Online and Office 365 to help you decide whether the former would be enough for you or if it would make more sense to choose the latter.

Is Office 365 different than Exchange Online?

Many assume that Microsoft Exchange Online and Office 365 are two different products altogether. However, this is not categorically true. Exchange Online is simply one of the many products that are included in Office 365, which is a collection of tools rather than being a single product. You can purchase either product without the other; it is possible to opt-in for Microsoft Exchange Online without the Office 365 suite, but you can also purchase the Office 365 Pro Plus edition that doesn’t include Exchange Online.

However, no matter the case, Exchange Online complements Office 365 (and hence doesn’t compete with it). For example, if you choose Exchange Online as a standalone email service now, you can always upgrade to Office 365 later.

What is your business requirement?

If you are looking only for a cloud-based email service, Exchange Online is more than enough. You can choose between two Exchange Online plans: Plan 1 & Plan 2.

Exchange Online Plan 1 offers up to 50 GB storage per user along with the web-based and app-based versions of the Outlook client and enterprise-level email security through Exchange Online Protection.

Exchange Online Plan 2 offers unlimited storage and unified messaging services, with advanced security features like Data Loss Prevention (DLP), In-Place Hold, and hosted voicemails. Generally required by large companies.

However, Office 365 can be considered if you’re looking for a comprehensive suite of collaboration and productivity tools. Depending on your requirements, you can choose between various Office 365 plans such as Office 365 Business Essentials, Office 365 Business, and Office 365 Business Premium. If you are a larger organization with more than 300 users, you may choose Office 365 Enterprise plans: Enterprise E1, Enterprise E3, and Enterprise E5.

Do note that all those editions (Business and Enterprise) include Exchange Online as part of the product package except Office 365 Pro Plus.

The size of your company matters

If you are a small enterprise with no more than, say, 50 members or so, it is fine to migrate to Exchange Online only. This is because we anticipate that as you are a small company, you may not need advanced collaboration features that Office 365 offers. However, if you have a considerable number of employees and you expect your team size to grow further in the future, consider getting some edition of Office 365. With Office 365, you get not only the email solutions of Exchange Online, but you also get business communication tools such as Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business. Ultimately, as your company grows bigger, you are going to need more than just email, and that is where Office 365’s applications come in handy.

What is the nature of your business?

If your nature of business is such that it requires a lot of collaboration, consider going for Office 365. The software package comes with a host of useful applications such as Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, and more. If you have a service-based company, you can expect your users to collaborate online a lot; therefore, in such cases, Office 365 is the correct choice for your company. However, if your business is such that your users don’t need to collaborate online, Exchange Online is what you must go for as it only offers email functionality.

So, as you see, it all boils down to your company’s requirements. If you are still confused, you can begin by going for Microsoft Exchange Online and then later migrate to Office 365 full suite as your company’s needs grow.

If you would like expert advice and assistance to help you decide and finalize, get in touch with us today!


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