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Announcing BetterCloud for Office 365: Building a Microsoft Business as a Premier Google ISV

BetterCloud

April 8, 2015

5 minute read

SANTA CLARA,CA/USA - MAY 11, 2014:  Microsoft corporate building in Santa Clara, California.  Microsoft is a multinational corporation that develops, supports and sells computer software and services.

We’re excited to announce the public beta release of BetterCloud for Office 365. We are adding functionality rapidly and working closely with customers to shape our roadmap. If you are interested in joining our Beta Advisor Program, email us or install BetterCloud for Office 365 [Beta] for free.

A key advantage for most startups is their ability to recognize something that could just be that much better, more efficient, or more opportunistic, and then turn on a dime to enact enormous change and action at any point in time.

doodles3And for a startup in the cloud office space, where the “next big thing” (and the chance to pivot) comes along every few months, the opportunity was there. For us—a company that, in just under three years, built a team of 100, plus a customer base of over 50,000 organizations and 30 million end users, and recently raised a $25M investment—what we were doing was working, and there wasn’t a compelling reason to change.

But, with the mission to “power cloud IT,” we were ready for the next challenge. We knew there were tens of thousands of IT teams who were moving to the cloud, and that we had the scalable business model to replicate the success of our solutions for Google Apps across other cloud platforms.

Today, we’re proud to announce the public beta launch of BetterCloud for Office 365, the first comprehensive insights, management, and security solution for the Microsoft Cloud Platform.

It has been an amazing journey to get to this point—and considering the product’s conception was last October, we are just getting started. Our team could not be more excited about this new area of our business, and we want to open the kimono to show you what has been going on in the background these past few months leading up to the Office 365 product’s release.

Building a Microsoft Team

The most critical element of any business is to build a product that truly solves problems that your customers are experiencing. But there was one catch; we knew we could build a product for Office 365, but we didn’t know the customers or understand their problems.

Few at BetterCloud had ever used Microsoft’s messaging and collaboration platform. We were, instead, a company of Google for Work power users that rarely if ever used Word, and never touched Outlook during our day-to-day work. We certainly weren’t familiar with the pain points administrators faced in managing Office 365, where there were feature gaps, or if the APIs even existed to deliver our solutions.doodles4

To start, our Director of IT spearheaded a project to build a Microsoft lab. He led our Product, Success, and Support teams in first building a complete on-premises Microsoft stack, including Exchange, Sharepoint, Lync, and Active Directory Federation Servers. After immersing ourselves in the complexities of the legacy Office paradigm, we then migrated over to Office 365 and set up a production environment that our team could use on a daily basis. Today, nearly a third of our company is running Office 365 as their core messaging and collaboration platform.

We also needed to build an engineering team with certain core competencies. Last October, while we had more than 40 developers at BetterCloud, we were solely a Java shop. In order to build a product for Office 365, we not only needed .NET developers, but an engineering team that deeply understood Microsoft technologies. After countless hours recruiting world-class engineers, ramping them up through our onboarding process, and integrating them into our culture, we now have more than 20 .NET developers across multiple teams based in our Atlanta office. These are the people who have worked so diligently over the past six months to make BetterCloud for Office 365 a reality.

We truly feel ready to not only deliver a great product for customers, but also support the tens of thousands of customers who are looking for the solutions that a born-in-the-cloud vendor like BetterCloud offers.

Working with Customers

While we were building a new part of our business and learning completely new technologies, there was one part of our business that translated incredibly well: customers are the experts (not vendors). They should guide everything we do, and we should integrate them into our product development process.

Starting in early October, I began to personally reach out to BetterCloud customers who had approached us to see if we would be building the same solution for Office 365. Nearly all of them had already or were in the process of migrating to Microsoft’s cloud platform. And while their migration stories were all unique, there was one commonality—that they would love to work with BetterCloud if we ever built a product for Office 365. While each cloud platform is different, the issues these customers experienced operating their organizations in the cloud were the same, and they knew that BetterCloud could help.

We’ve since built a Beta Advisor Program, and I can say without hesitation that these customers have been instrumental in evolving our product to where it is today. They’ve spent countless hours on the phone with our team, advising us on our product direction and informing of us areas where they thought BetterCloud could help them better adopt, manage, and secure the Office 365 platform.

We’re incredibly grateful to our Beta Advisors, and we’d love to work with any others that are interested. Please feel free to contact me directly at nick@bettercloud.com to learn more about joining our Beta Advisor Program.

Support From Microsoft and Partners

Last but not least, the support that we have received from Microsoft as an organization has been tremendous. As you can imagine, after being focused solely on building for Google for the past few years, we were wary about how Microsoft would react when we initially approached them. And, while the organization itself is immense, its size is truly matched by the support it provides its partners, whether those partners are SIs, MSPs, or ISVs like BetterCloud.

What we were most surprised by was the level of openness and insights that Microsoft has provided us into how the Office 365 platform is evolving. The work the Microsoft team is doing to invest in their technology, whether in their APIs so that ISVs like us can integrate and extend their platforms, or for new functionality that makes messaging and collaboration for end users more seamless, is impressive—and we could not ask for a better partnership.

Also surprising is the reception from established Microsoft partners. These are companies that have been in the ecosystem for decades and have tremendous legacy, but they, too, are pivoting to adapt and move to the cloud and have been valuable advocates.

Final Thoughts

Needless to say, it’s been a busy and exciting six months for the Microsoft team at BetterCloud. It’s been a crazy ride so far and while we’re proud of what we have accomplished in a short amount of time, we have a lot more work ahead. We’d love to hear from anyone who is interested in getting involved and giving feedback that will shape our product roadmap, so please get in touch to join our Beta Advisor Program or connect with us on Yammer.

Nick Freund is the Director and GM of New Platforms at BetterCloud.

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