Microsoft Extends Office 365 FastTrack Service to More SMBs

Targeting small and midsize businesses, Microsoft lowers the bar for its Office 365 enterprise onboarding and custom support services offering to 50 employees.

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Large corporate accounts are Microsoft's bread and butter, but the IT heavyweight isn't overlooking small and midsized businesses (SMBs) in its quest to be the go-to provider of cloud productivity software.

FastTrack, an Office 365 user onboarding and support services suite for enterprises, is now available to smaller organizations. "Starting today, customers with 50 to 149 seats of Office 365 enterprise and small business plans can take advantage of our customer success service Microsoft FastTrack," said the company in a Feb. 1 announcement. "Previously available only to customers with 150 seats or more, FastTrack provides resources and dedicated engineers who can assist you, or the Microsoft Partner you work with, to implement Office 365, onboard users and get the most business value from your investment."

Now that it covers customers requiring fewer seats of Office 365, FastTrack can potentially affect the end-user IT planning strategies of a large number of SMBs across the globe.

According to company estimates, 50,000 SMBs become Office 365 customers every month. In total, 60 million people use Office 365 at work, claims the software maker.

Last week, while announcing its cloud-lifted FY16 Q2 earnings, Microsoft revealed that Office 365 commercial seats grew by 59 percent while commercial revenues jumped nearly 70 percent during the quarter. Office 365 also sparked increased usage of other Microsoft Azure cloud computing services. Joint Azure and Office 365 subscribers use eight times more cloud resources than Azure-only customers, according to the company.

Microsoft is clearly taking aim at organizations that got their start on Google's free cloud productivity offerings. "To simplify the migration process, now customers with 150+ seats qualify for a preview service to help migrate their files from Google Drive to OneDrive for Business and SharePoint sites," announced Gavriella Schuster, general manager of the Worldwide Partner Group at Microsoft, in a blog post.

As usual, restrictions apply, added Schuster.

"Small and medium business customers (SMBs) that purchase between 50 and 149 seats of qualifying plans and those that do not have a Digital Partner of Record can now get onboarding and data migration guidance from a FastTrack manager from within the product," she explained. "These customers will be contacted by the FastTrack Center once they provide a contact phone number in their admin portal."

Digital Partners of Record are subscriptions sold through the Microsoft's Cloud Solution Provider program, and as such, they lack a phone number field in the admin portal. Those customers are advised to contact their providers for access to FastTrack services.

Finally, Microsoft is incentivizing its partner and value-added reseller community to help spur Office 365 adoption among SMBs.

"We've expanded our current Adoption Offer to include payouts for customer purchases starting at 50 seats (across all licensing vehicles), and including Office 365 Business, Business Essentials, and Business Premium SKU. We're also extending the offer to June 30, 2016," Schuster said. Microsoft is paying out $25 per seat (50-149 seats).

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...