Microsoft, SkyKick Offer Free Service To Get Channel Laggards To Use Office 365

SkyKick, a Seattle-based cloud startup that automates the process of moving on-premise email systems to Office 365, is now offering its software free of charge to Microsoft partners that want to move their businesses to the cloud.

Through a joint Microsoft-SkyKick promotion that runs through the end of June, registered Microsoft partners with 500 seats or fewer can use SkyKick's SaaS migration service for free as part of their internal use rights for Office 365.

The free offer applies only to Microsoft partners that don't yet use Office 365 and wish to run it internally.

While Microsoft has been selling Office 365 for nearly four years, there are still many partners around the world that are not using it themselves, SkyKick co-founders Evan Richman and Todd Schwartz said in an interview.

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[Related: Microsoft Unveils Plan To Offer Customers Free Office 365 Email Migrations]

Microsoft has said partners that use Office 365 internally are much better at selling it than partners who don't, and Richman and Schwartz agree. "If a partner is using the Office 365 product, they're more likely to sell it and to have a successful cloud practice," Schwartz told CRN.

SkyKick's SaaS offering automates all aspects of Office 365 migration projects, from the technical heavy lifting involved with moving email systems and data, to planning and software provisioning, as well as customer communications. It comes in two versions, one for small and medium businesses and the other for enterprises.

Schwartz and Richman said migrating a typical SMB customer with 25 seats to Office 365 takes about 40 hours, but SkyKick's technology dramatically speeds the process.

"There are hundreds of steps involved, and a lot of details. Sequencing matters, and there are outside variables from all the different email systems in different parts of the world," Schwartz said.

Microsoft offers free Office 365 email migrations to customers on deals of 150 seats or more under its Office 365 Fast Track program. Schwartz and Richman said Microsoft is not using SkyKick's technology in these migration projects.

Two Microsoft partners told CRN that SkyKick is an important tool for the software giant because it can help drive adoption of Office 365. Microsoft needs this technology to keep rival Google at bay in the low end of the SaaS market, they said.

"Microsoft is concerned about Google eating their lunch in SMB. They need SMB partners to have a tool set to get this segment on the Microsoft cloud," one Microsoft partner told CRN, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect his relationship with the vendor.

"By making their migration tool for internal use rights, SkyKick can get partners to trial their tool. If that is the only tool they ever use, then SkyKick gets to build the comfort factor with those new partners," said the other partner, who also spoke on condition of anonymity.