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If you are in the process of purchasing — or you have just purchased — an Office 365 subscription for your enterprise organization, you are probably already fretting about how you will handle this massive migration to the new platform!

As you have probably heard from your Microsoft representative or reselling partner of choice, Microsoft offers free migration assistance called FastTrack for all eligible subscriptions over 50 seats. FastTrack offers best practice guidance, tools and, for larger clients, even remote migration assistance to get you onto the Office 365 subscription in the fastest possible timeframe.

As a Microsoft Gold Partner, Juriba has worked side-by-side with the FastTrack team to migrate more than 100,000 mailboxes. But Office 365 customers are often confused about how to tackle the next planning steps once the ink on the contract has dried.

We often get these questions: "How can we take full advantage of the Microsoft FastTrack program?" and "How do we make sure we get the most out of Microsoft FastTrack?".  

Today, we want to walk you through these steps and hopefully clear up any confusion. 

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What Is Microsoft FastTrack?

Before we start walking through the steps, let's talk about the FastTrack program in general.

Microsoft FastTrack allows Exchange Online, Office 365 Enterprise, Office 365 ProPlus, OneDrive for Business, Power BI, Project Online, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business Online, and Yammer Enterprise customers with a valid subscription plan over a certain number of seats to reach out to Microsoft's self-driven, but remotely supported services.

These services are divided into onboarding and user adoption categories:

  • Onboarding Services are comprised of core onboarding (e.g., tasks required for tenant configuration and integration with Azure Active Directory) as the minimum required level of onboarding to be eligible for other services and service onboarding and migration which consists of various tasks that enable scenarios in your tenant as well as data migration. 
  • User Adoption Services are designed to make your end users aware of eligible services and happens alongside of the onboarding process. 

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There are two levels of FastTrack services:

  • Customers with smaller installations (50+ seats) can log on to FastTrack.microsoft.com to gain access to best practices, tools, and resources as well as some personalized remote assistance. This service is available in many different languages. 
  • Customers who purchase at least 20,000 licenses for an Office 365 tenant have access to the FastTrack Center — a team of hundreds of engineers trained and experienced in remote onboarding and migration assistance.

Typically, a FastTrack Center engagement takes approximately four to six weeks until all eligible applications are provisioned and the adoption plan is under way.

Let's look at the process in a little more detail. For the sake of clarity, we will focus on FastTrack Center (20,000+ seats).

Accelerate Your Office 365 Migration With Juriba Dashworks & Microsoft FastTrack

Once you have purchased your enterprise Office 365 subscription plan, the FastTrack team will reach out to you within the first 30 days of purchasing an eligible Office 365, EMS, or Azure license. There is no time limit as to when you are eligible for the service, so if you need to kick off your onboarding immediately, the team is available, or If you need to delay your onboarding, you can do that as well . 

Onboarding Kickoff

The FastTrack onboarding process gets kicked off with an initial meeting to review your needs. While most of the actual development and implementation of your success plan, the overall program and project management, and any enhancements and integrations to your Office 365 tenant beyond the FastTrack configurable options are your responsibility, the FastTrack team can be a considerable help in getting the most out of your Office 365 plan. 

Bearing in mind that you will be responsible for any detailed analysis, migration scheduling and end user communications, it is advisable to have your Dashworks environment set up and configured to support your first step. Dashworks is often utilized as a  central data warehouse and command and control center for data gathering and analysis to position you for further environment assessment and project delivery.

Assess Your Environment

During a pre-onboarding check, the Microsoft FastTrack engineers will help you identify and notify you of any required readiness tasks that you or a Microsoft partner of your choice will have to complete before onboarding. This check will identify any considerations for adopting a hybrid Active Directory, re-pointing DNS entries and other technical tasks.

During this phase, you will also want to assess the complexity of your mailbox environment. For example, many organizations will have a spider web of mailbox delegation that reaches far and wide, and significantly reduces the ability to migrate quickly. Archive mailboxes, local PST files, Outlook client versions, applications with hooks into the mail infrastructure and other plug-ins will all need to be identified and assessed for migration. If planning other migrations such as file storage and instant messaging, or even PSTN platform change, then much further analysis and data gathering will also be required.

Based on some of the above, the FastTrack team will help you decide whether or not your project is outside of the scope of the FastTrack engagement, and if you need further assistance through a qualified Microsoft partner of your choice. 

Remediate Any Issues

The FastTrack team will supply you with a checklist containing any found technical issues that need remediating (e.g., additional configuration for identity management, upgrading your infrastructure to supported software, or updating the network) as well as suggestions on how to fix these issues.

Based on that checklist, you can use Dashworks to gain actionable insights into not only the migration process, but also into capacity management of your resources, the progress of the re-configuration process, and all other relevant action items and deliverables. Using the checklist as guidance, Dashworks will enable your team to assess, ready and schedule the more complex mailboxes, users, files, and calendars.

In addition to that, you can use Dashworks to handle any end-user email communication in an efficient, automated way and use the self-service portal for data validation such as delegation rights and identifying what can be removed. Furthermore, you can keep your internal stakeholders, as well as your assigned contact at the FastTrack team, informed by running instant reports and visualizing almost anything on the migration in dashboards.

Migration

Even though a significant percentage of mailboxes will have delegates, exceed file size limits or other criteria that makes a direct migration for the Microsoft team too complex to handle under this free value-add, having the Microsoft team handle the execution of the straightforward ones is very helpful.

For this, you will simply be asked for a list of email addresses that can be migrated by the FastTrack team. By running a quick analysis of your mailbox environments in Dashworks, you have all the information you need at your fingertips. After the initial mailboxes have been migrated by the Microsoft engineers, you can use Dashworks to de-tangle the spiderweb of left-over mail boxes and remediate/schedule them accordingly.

Many complex customers will then use Dashworks to trigger migration activities, using many of the same tools utilized by the FastTrack team, but under local control.

Enable Core Capabilities

Once migrated, you will work with your FastTrack team to ensure that your cloud solution is ready to use, licenses are assigned appropriately, and other eligible services are planned for migration.

Conclusion

The FastTrack program, especially the FastTrack Center track, is a wonderful value-add to ensure all enterprise Office 365 get the most out of their subscription plans. It is offered at no-cost and, as far as we know, there is never any upselling to add expensive consulting hours.

However, while the program provides best practices, tools and some remote execution, you will need to have a central command and control center such as Dashworks to help you manage the more complex aspects of your migration to get your organization onto full adoption in the fastest, lowest cost timeframe.

(Image Credit: Microsoft FastTrack)

Click here to download the Office 365 project plan template

Barry Angell

Written by Barry Angell

Barry is a co-founder of Juriba, where he is focused on using his experience in IT migration to help drive product strategy, pre-sales and service delivery. He is an experienced End User Services executive that has helped manage thousands of users, computers, applications and mailboxes to their next IT platform. He has saved millions of dollars for internal departments and customers alike through product, project, process and service delivery efficiency.

Topics: Office 365