My esteemed colleague Kevin McLaughlin at CRN has broken a story that Microsoft has exhausted funding for its controversial FastTrack program.
But let’s back up. Microsoft now provides free remote onboarding services to customers that buy 150 seats or more of Office 365, as part of an update to its Office 365 Fast Track program. Microsoft also offers customers free email migrations to Office 365 as part of a special adoption offer that runs from September 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015. According to McLaughlin, this last part has many Microsoft partners upset because they charge money for their email migration services. Anything more complex than a basic email migration will still be handled by Microsoft partners, Microsoft’s Phil Sorgen reported to McLaughlin.
In these cases, Microsoft will provide funding to customers to defray the costs of the partner engagement. Microsoft partners can get $15 per seat for up to 1,000 seats and $5 per seat after that, with a cap of $60,000 per customer. You can read that entire interview here.
The Office 365 Fast Track changes stand to impact Microsoft's “born in the cloud” partners the most, as many of them got into Office 365 early on and have made significant investments in building service capabilities.
Now back to the main point. The above funding of $15 per seat, $5 afterwards with the $60K cap is still intact. What’s exhausted is another funding category, called Microsoft Partner Investment Engine (PIE) used to fund high-end pilots and deployments. It’s that funding that has been depleted faster than expected but, to clarify the confusion, the rest of the Office 365 Fast Track program is still operating.
Geeman Yip, CEO at BitTitan, offered the following observations in this video interview I conducted recently. Click here.
“While Microsoft funding is currently allocated, I think it’s important to remember the value of a customer engagement with a Microsoft Partner. The goal of the partner is to ensure all facets of the migration are seamless as possible to the customer, and to add value in providing the missing pieces in a proactive manner. The funding from Microsoft may not be available, but the partner and the value they bring to a customer is plentiful.” Melanie Gass, president of Center Point Solutions shared.
“What’s encouraging with this news is that FastTrack support, as well as the Office 365 Deployment Offer, continues. Our partners have told us they’re getting big leads from the FastTrack support center, so partners should view FastTrack as a solid lead source for 150+ seat deals, as well as Tier 2 support for partners. What’s exciting is when partners combine the Office 365 Deployment Offer of $15/mailbox with the 20-30% deployment savings of the Microsoft Turbo Offer which automates entire migration projects for partners at a discount, there is a big opportunity to drive significant partner profitability and end-customer savings for Office 365 migrations.” Said Todd Schwartz, co-CEO at SkyKick.