Office 365 incentives are back – with a new core benefit

 In Cloud, Microsoft, Office 365, Software, Volume Licensing

Details of the next round of incentives for Office 365 (O365) adoption have been released, and there’s one big change for customers.

Microsoft has unveiled the Fiscal Year 2016 incentives, which will kick in for customers who purchase new licenses after Sept. 1 of this year, in order to spur O365 adoption and deployment. For customers who purchase O365 licenses from July 1 through Aug. 31, a bridge period with similar benefits is available as well.

Here is what you need to know about this year’s FastTrack offer, and why you should prepare your IT environment before you contact Microsoft.

Microsoft Incentives

Remember those incentives?

This isn’t the first go-round of O365 incentives. They’re very similar to benefits Microsoft offered last year, with a few tweaks.

Historically, because the previous fiscal year’s FastTrack offering expired on June 30 and the next incentive round didn’t begin until September, customers that purchased O365 licenses in July and August found themselves in limbo. To remedy that problem, Microsoft developed an “early bird” incentive, and has set aside money to help organizations offset the cost of their deployment.

In essence, customers that purchase at least 150 eligible O365 licenses, and in that two-month window, can work with a Certified Microsoft Partner to manage their deployment of O365 workloads, and in doing so can offset the total cost of moving to an O365 environment. Once the customer and partner complete the due diligence of the deployment, the partner will submit a funding claim to Microsoft to partially offset the costs of the organization’s O365 adoption – a process that could save organizations five figures off the total expense, for example.

After this round of “early bird” funding, FastTrack Adoption Offer benefits launch Sept. 1, and customers who purchase a minimum of 150 licenses between Sept. 1, 2015 and March 30, 2016 are eligible. Once a customer activates its tenant, Microsoft will contact eligible customers within 30 days of the O365 license purchases to discuss the FastTrack onboarding options, which help activate core workloads such as Office Pro Plus, SharePoint, and Skype (to name a few) into the cloud. Like last year, Microsoft will offer offsetting funds to reduce the total cost of deployment to qualified customers.

Finally, a marriage of FastTrack and Mail Migration

A key change in this year’s incentive program is that Mail Migration is now a core service offering as part of an O365 FastTrack deployment; Microsoft’s engineering teams will migrate mail accounts and data to the cloud for qualified customers, in addition to onboarding key workloads such as Office Pro Plus and SharePoint.

But take note: Customers need to do their own preparation for the mail migration, which may include a cleanup of Active Directory, streamlining on-premises and cloud mail services, or remediation of other third-party applications. Microsoft will migrate a qualified organization’s mail to the cloud, but organizations are responsible for completing certain checks and processes before the migration can begin.

Organizations can work with qualified Certified Microsoft Partners to get their infrastructure in order before interfacing with Microsoft.

Microsoft’s TechNet is home to updated resources for organizations to better understand the FastTrack incentives and Onboarding benefits, and the responsibilities organizations must complete before Onboarding can begin. It’s a useful resource for all organizations that will soon start, or are undergoing, an O365 deployment.

The SHI Blog will have more content about Microsoft’s O365 incentive programs over the next few months, so return frequently as more details emerge about these offerings. In the meantime, SHI’s team of experts can assist organizations in determining eligibility and understanding the benefits of these incentives, and can help organizations develop a plan to take advantage of the onboarding offerings. Contact your SHI representative today to start the O365 deployment process.

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