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IBM Looks to Lure Windows NT Users to Linux

IBM is looking to lure Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 users to Linux with new programs for business partners and customers at LinuxWorld this week.

Big Blue has chosen the conference in New York City as the pulpit from which to preach about its Linux migration programs because Microsoft is slated to discontinue pay-per-incident and security support for NT 4.0, used by as many as 2 million customers, by year's end.

This could pose considerable security concerns for customers. A popular server for small and medium-sized businesses since 1996, NT has, like much of Microsoft's software, fallen prey to security flaws.

The Redmond, Wash. software giant now wants to help customers to move to its fresher Windows Server 2003 platform.

But companies running NT, IBM is quick to argue, would do well to migrate. IBM is proposing a number of plans, including one for moving from Microsoft Exchange on NT to IBM Lotus on Linux, as well as another for shifting from Microsoft SQL Server to IBM DB2 Universal Database on Linux.

Linux is being groomed and hawked by IBM, HP and others as a viable, open-source alternative to Windows to run large enterprises in retail and government sectors, among others. HP recently announced $2.5 billion in Linux revenue for 2003.

While the chance that current NT users move to Windows Server 2003 exists, IBM believes customers are just as ready to listen to the benefits of the open-source operating system Linux, said Adam Jollans, Linux strategy manager for IBM's software group.

Jollans told internetnews.com migrating to Windows Server 2003 requires additional hardware to handle the system, as well as key support features. This is not a trivial migration because not all Windows applications will run on the platform and some hardware may not handle the load, he said.

Microsoft could not comment for this story.

Jollans said his company is looking to ensure a smooth transition for these migrant customers, picking up new business for IBM software that supports Linux along the way.

"If you're running a business on NT and these security patches don't work, it's not a situation you want to be in," Jollans said. "A lot of NT users tend to be small and medium businesses, and they tend to rely on business partners for migration."

Jollans said IBM plans to offer the NT-to-Linux-Migration Program, which will include solutions for businesses looking to replace their NT platform with an IBM offering that runs on Linux.

The Move2Lotus program will give customers using rival messaging and collaboration products, such as Microsoft Exchange running on Windows NT, the tools and services they need to migrate to Lotus Domino running on Linux. This includes discounts for customers that migrate from other platforms to Lotus Domino running on Linux.

IBM will also deliver programs to help customers migrate to Tivoli software on Linux that include security, systems and network management.