IBM Challenges Microsoft With $300 Million Ad Campaign

In a move to extend the growth of its Linux-based products, IBM on Thursday announced a new initiative designed to help customers migrate from Microsoft Exchange to IBM Lotus Notes and Domino on Linux. Big Blue will sink US$300 million into an ad campaign to woo customers away from its industry rival.

The new “Migrate to the Penguin” initiative is an expansion of IBM’s Move2Lotus program, which includes the development of migration tools to help customers make the transition. IBM reports its Linux-based e-mail and other collaboration software is growing at more than 200 percent year to year.

“A growing number of organizations are interested in moving away from closed, proprietary technology platforms in favor of an open computing model,” said Michael Loria, director of Worldwide Channels for IBM Software Group. “As one of the fastest growing operating systems in the world, Linux is emerging as a viable alternative to Microsoft Windows as an e-mail and collaboration platform.”

Rebates and Rewards

At the center of the new migration initiative under Move2Lotus is “Migrate to the Penguin.” IBM is introducing a limited time only rebate program for eligible IBM Software Resellers who move customers from Microsoft Exchange to Lotus Notes and Domino on Linux collaboration offerings.

Eligible IBM Software Resellers can receive a rebate for each seat of qualifying “trade up” licenses, up to a maximum of 1,000 seats per Passport Advantage site number or Passport Advantage Express site number. The rebate offers $20 per qualified seat with a maximum rebate of $20,000 per IBM Business Partner.

The Total Cost Card

The vigorous hustle on the messaging front between IBM and Microsoft over the years has taken on various characteristics, from standards and Internet performance to the definition of groupware and application development platforms. The rebates are just the latest tactic in a total cost of ownership strategy from Big Blue.

Functionality is not a key differentiator on the pure messaging components of Exchange and Domino, according to Interarbor Solutions Principal Analyst Dana Gardner. The differentiator is cost, and that’s where IBM hopes to make headway.

The primary platform for Domino has traditionally been Windows. That means every time IBM sells Domino, Microsoft also claims a certain measure of victory. By moving to Linux, IBM potentially takes Microsoft out of the equation.

“IBM feels it can offer customers top shelf messaging on a well performing platform at low cost. Now that the hardware equation has worked out with low-cost blade servers, that’s a compelling total cost of ownership approach to messaging. That’s what this advertising investment is about — to get that message out,” Gardner told LinuxInsider.

Education and Certification

IBM is also touting updated Notes and Domino education and certification. The certification program is designed to help IBM Business Partners update their Lotus Notes and Domino skills to version 7. Move2Lotus program participants are eligible to receive the Lotus Notes and Domino 7 education and certification at no additional cost.

Finally, IBM’s $300 million advertising investment hopes to draw customers with its hosted proof of concept offering, a “try before you buy” trial Domino server environment. The hosted Proof of Concept gives customers the ability to log in to a Lotus Notes and Domino environment and experience the technology firsthand with the option of using their own data.

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