“Information Protection”

If you thought “collaboration” was a wiggly word with lots of definitions and places it could be used, you should try the phrase “information protection” on for size. Once you start enumerating the types and styles and approaches and consequences and implications and gotchas, you start to build a complex picture of requirements. Which is why Microsoft doesn’t offer an “information protection” product as such, but rather a set of solutions that apply in different situations. I need to get my head around what is actually on offer in Microsoft’s Information Protection Solutions catalog, so let’s have a talk about it. And probably not just today.

The diagram above is a common one used by Microsoft to show the breadth of its solution set. The four blue circles in the middle express the generic commonalities – detect, classify, protect, and monitor. The 11 solutions around the outside are the specific products that are [1] part of the solution set, and [2] in adherence with one or more of the four blue circles.

One immediate conclusion based on the breadth of these capabilities is that information protection is complex. There’s a lot to understand when you are dealing with a product set in Office 365 for productivity and collaboration that is as broad and deep as what Microsoft is attempting. To be the company that helps “everyone to achieve more” – a broad and all-encompassing vision if ever there was one – you have to safeguard and protect the means of achieving as much as providing tools to help with the achieving.

A second observation in looking at the diagram is that it’s important to note that not all of these capabilities are in Office 365. Some are – Office 365 Message Encryption, Office 365 Advanced Security Management (now called Office 365 Cloud App Security), and Office 365 DLP – are three obvious inclusions. And of the capabilities that are in Office 365, not all are in all plans; essentially, if you want all the Office 365 capabilities, you’ll need to purchase the E5 license. Lower licensing levels have a diminishing number of capabilities. The rest of the capabilities come from the Enterprise Mobility + Security plan – this is where you get the full version of Microsoft Cloud App Security, Conditional Access (from Azure Active Directory), Azure Information Protection, and more. One way of thinking about it is that you buy Office 365 E5 for productivity and collaboration and Enterprise Mobility + Security E5 for safeguarding that productivity and collaboration. It’s not a fully correct differentiation, but it’s a broadly accurate distinction. And if you buy the Microsoft 365 plan, you get both the Office 365 capabilities and Enterprise Mobility + Security capabilities, along with Windows 10.

So what do the above capabilities actually do? Let’s talk about that another day.

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