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Microsoft To Provide Free Onboarding Services To Enterprise Mobility Suite Customers

After debuting a controversial program to provide free email migration services last July, Microsoft is now upping the ante by expanding that to include its cloud mobility suite.

Microsoft, which rankled partners last July with free email migration services for Office 365 customers, recently shared details of more changes that might not be well-received in the channel.

Microsoft's Office 365 FastTrack program, in which customers that buy 150 seats or more of Office 365 get remote "onboarding" and email migration services free of charge, is now known simply as Microsoft FastTrack.

As part of the change, Microsoft will now also be providing remote onboarding services for customers that buy 150 seats or more of Enterprise Mobility Suite, a licensing bundle that includes Windows Intune, a paid version of Azure Active Directory with advanced features, and Azure Rights Management Services.

[Related: Microsoft Exec Discusses Plan To Offer Customers Free Office 365 Migration Services]

Microsoft also is adding email data migration to the list of free remote onboarding services, Gavriella Schuster, general manager of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Group, said in a blog post Friday.

"FastTrack minimizes the time partners need to spend doing time-intensive administrative tasks, so they can increase time spent selling and deploying high-value added services that can be more profitable and drive customer usage," Schuster said in the blog post.

Microsoft provides onboarding services through a team of engineers it hired last year to work closely with Office 365 partners and customers, some of whom operate in a support center setting.

Last July, Microsoft said Office 365 FastTrack onboarding services were limited to Active Directory integration, cloud services activation and provisioning users. By expanding this scope to include email data migration, Microsoft could risk upsetting partners that provide such services.

However, Microsoft executives have been clear about their desire to see partners step up their games and make the investments needed to provide higher-value offerings, so this shouldn't come as a surprise.

"They have several programs, including ones on partner profitability, to help partners make the transition," Ric Opal, vice president at Peters & Associates, a Microsoft partner in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., told CRN. "If you're a partner and haven't yet begun the transition, you've got to be paying attention."

One big goal Microsoft has for FastTrack is driving consumption of its cloud services, as opposed to just selling seats that customers don't use. Many of Microsoft's partner and customer incentives for its fiscal 2016 year reflect this, and around half of the money behind the incentives will be cloud-focused.

Microsoft this fall will launch two new partner incentives for Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility Suite. The former is aimed at getting partners to drive Office 365 adoption, while the latter lets customers "earn funds on a per-seat basis to pay for qualified adoption activities by eligible Microsoft competency partners," Schuster said in the blog post.

Both offers will launch Sept. 1 and run through March 31, 2016.


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