Microsoft Upgrades FastTrack To Help Partners Accelerate Cloud Adoption

Microsoft on Tuesday raised the curtain on new updates to Microsoft FastTrack, its service enabling customers to make a move to cloud services like Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility Suite.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company said the FastTrack upgrades are proof of its focus on helping partners align their competencies with customers' cloud-first, mobile-first needs for the workplace.

"Through Microsoft FastTrack, we're here to help [partners] accelerate cloud adoption and offer customers a seamless onboarding process," said Gavriella Schuster, general manager of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group, in a post. "As we continue to improve FastTrack, we're aiming to make it easier than ever before … to engage with service experts, help customers envision business goals, identify key scenarios relevant to those goals, and drive critical usage."

[Related: Microsoft: Sweeping Competency Changes Will Help Partners Capture Cloud, Mobile Opportunities]

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As part of Microsoft's updates, the FastTrack Center now provides partner guidance, content and best-practice advice to help speed up customers' time to value, as well as increase user adoption of Office 365.

Microsoft has also streamlined Success Plan creation and created new scenarios that help customers set a vision for success with Office 365. According to Schuster, this guidance will provide tips on how partners can help any customer find the next workload they should adopt and suggestions on how partners and customers can jointly proceed together.

Ric Opal, vice president of Peters & Associates, a Microsoft partner in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., praised the updates to FastTrack, stressing that it is vital for Microsoft partners to embrace and leverage cloud services to drive profitability.

"This is exciting news for those who have figured out how to leverage the FastTrack Center as a very viable benefit to accelerate customers to the cloud," said Opal. "All partners are on a journey -- we're all in the midst of transformation. There's a lot of data out there that says partners who are leveraging and transacting in the cloud are a lot more profitable, period."

Microsoft has made sweeping changes to its partner program to keep up with customers' changing business needs, the company said, as more customers focus on cloud and mobile solutions.

The company recently said it will retire 12 competencies in its partner network and add new ones in an effort to simplify the program and drive partner profitability.

According to a report from research firm IDC, 48 percent of partners have already adapted their business models to offer project services, managed services and IP.

Microsoft has introduced an array of tools to further help partners transition, including an Interactive Microsoft Partner Network Evolution Guide to guide decision processes and identify which competencies are the best fit for partner businesses.