Sunday, April 21, 2013

Office 365 - Finding Good Help

You've read the reviews, maybe you know someone who has already switched but it's just more than you're ready to do on your own - how do you find good help moving to Office 365?

At any size, migrations to Office 365 can be fairly complex and even for larger companies with an IT staff doing the migration work on your own may just be too much to plan, manage and implement.  Finding a qualified partner can make a potentially complex migration a breeze.  A good partner will have completed many migrations before yours and will incorporate best practices and tools in their work for you.

Partners will also be knowledgeable about the various offers Microsoft has.  You may be able to pay for some or all of their consulting work using Microsoft funds.  For instance, if you had a Microsoft EA (Enterprise license Agreement) and were looking to migrate to Office 365 you could have taken advantage of a $40 per seat deployment offer up until the end of March 2013.  In many cases that would pay for an entire migration project... and the only way to access those funds was through a Microsoft Deployment Partner.  Also if you have an EA, you may have deployment planning services (DPS) days available - free (paid for) consulting days that partners can use to help you plan desktop, Exchange, and SharePoint migration work.  Many EA customers leave these DPS days unused... a terrible waste in my opinion.  (Hint to Partners... be sure to know how to use DPS!)

The top Microsoft credential for Microsoft partners that focus on assisting companies in migrating to Office 365 is "Cloud Deployment Specialist."  The picture above shows the requirements to achieve this level (click on the image for more details).  Having a combination of certified consultants and experience migrating large numbers of mailboxes to Office 365 provides good value to most customers.

A step down from that is Cloud Accelerate.  Cloud Accelerate Partners have sold three cloud deals for 150 seats or more within 18 months and are registered Microsoft Partners.  Most of the more experienced cloud partners will have this credential.

At a minimum, look for Cloud Essentials Partners.  These have registered with Microsoft and passed a sales assessment to ensure they understand Microsoft's offerings.  For more about the Microsoft Cloud Partner program see the FAQ.

To find MS partners in your area go to the Office 365 Marketplace.

Good luck in your move to Office 365!
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  1. I created an infographic showing why use a partner for deploying Office 365.

    1. Spot on advice. Given Office 365 offers a number of specialities in one package its a challenge to cover every technical aspect. Employing an MS partner minimises customer risk. If the technical expertise is missing for one particularly product for example Lync Online the partner will usually either work with another partner offering that skill or know of a partner who can deliver particularly expertise.


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