I just sat through an “Ask the Experts” session on Exchange Online migrations at the Microsoft Exchange Conference, and there were some great questions asked. It got me to thinking… what do YOU do when you have a question?

Search Bing/Google? Read TechNet or MSDN?  Read the Office 365 Service Descriptions? The Office 365 Deployment Guide? Stack Exchange?  Save up the question for SharePoint Conference or MEC or TechEd?  Those are all excellent resources.  Many teams within Microsoft write blogs to share tips/tricks/issues so they can be found later.  Definitely use them to find an answer if you can.

For that matter, take advantage of the excellent training on Microsoft Virtual Academy or Ignite or  from a Microsoft Learning Partner. We even have some great videos over on the MSPartnerTech YouTube channel. However, training tends to cover our products working as designed, in a vanilla environment.  Out in the real world, things are much trickier, which is why we depend on our Partners for technical/industry/integration expertise. 

That means our Partners hit some super interesting scenarios… “For a mailbox that was originally created on Exchange 2003, I cannot enable an archive once the user is moved to the cloud… am I doing something wrong or did I hit a bug?” “I am trying to move 30,000 mailboxes to the cloud, and when we did a few test migrations, I am only able to move mailboxes at  0.5 GB/hr. At that rate, it will take a year to move to the cloud. How can I speed up the migration?” “How can I move SharePoint list items from on-premises to SharePoint Online without changing the “modified” date?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get ahold of someone at Microsoft that had seen that scenario before and had an answer or a workaround or a pointer to documentation? Someone that could track down an answer from the thousands of smart people within Microsoft that may have hit that edge case before?  Some way to “Ask the Expert” when you have a problem, rather than waiting for a conference that takes place once a year?

Let me point you to resources for our partners that let you “Ask an Expert” when you need it most… when you are planning for or carrying out a project:

All Partners:

Partner Support Communities – Unlimited no-charge support for both technical and program (questions about your membership, benefits, etc).  SLA’s vary by your membership level.

Office 365 Partner Yammer Community – This is a Yammer group maintained by the Office 365 Partner team. There are no guaranteed answers or SLA, but it is a great place to collaborate with the Product team and other partners.

Silver/Gold Competency Partners

Partners with a Silver competency have access to 20 advisory hours a year, and Partners with a Gold competency have access to 50 advisory hours a year.  This is the Bat Phone to speak directly with a Partner Technical Consultant about your technical issue. There are many things a Partner Technical Consultant can help you out with (deployment planning, design review, and more). Submit your request via http://aka.ms/mysupport and a consultant will call you directly.

Cloud Accelerate/Cloud Deployment Program Partners

The Cloud Partner Support team is available to Cloud Accelerate and Cloud Deployment Program Partners via the Microsoft Online Portal (MOP) and via phone submission for severity A (critical) issues. Note: Cloud Accelerate partners must submit MOP issues on their partner Individual Use Rights (IUR) tenant to ensure routing to the correct Support team.   A quick reference guide with SLA’s, best practices, escalation resources, etc is available here: Cloud Partner Support Quick Reference Guide