Microsoft announced an expansion of its FastTrack service to make it easier for businesses to migrate to Office 365. Instead of providing a one-time service to help users migrate, FastTrack will provide customers with ongoing support through the transition process, making it easier for IT departments to switch from on-premise email and Active Directory services to the cloud.
The change in strategy, according to Microsoft officials, is to help medium and large businesses handle the transition to the cloud. The service is designed for businesses with more than 150 users on Microsoft Office.
What is FastTrack
FastTrack has two parts. The first component is a remote support service designed to make the migration process easier. Companies work with a Microsoft engineer and obtain access to a FastTrack online portal with tutorials. IT departments can utilize the service to move from an on-premise email and Active Directory services to the Microsoft cloud.
The second component of FastTrack includes working with Microsoft partners to migrate custom workloads, codes and applications. Companies can choose to manage this migration alone, or they can work with a Microsoft partner to make things easier.
FastTrack is designed to help Microsoft retain customers and help its business users deploy Office 365.
Office as a service
Microsoft is moving away from the software model. With the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft began offering Windows as a service, and that strategy is now used with Office.
Rather than delivering software to the end user, Office as a service would keep the productivity suite up to date through frequent software updates. As a service, Microsoft could also roll out new features, patches and security fixes more readily. Because users can access Word, Excel and PowerPoint in a browser, a direct client download isn't necessary.
With Office 2016, IT departments can choose to place users in a Current Branch or Current Branch for Business update cycle. Users can't skip Office updates, and CBB will give companies up to four months to defer updates.
As a cloud-based offering, Microsoft promises a 99.9% uptime for Office 365, with pricing starting at $5 (£3, AU$6) per user per month.