IBM Moves Customers from Windows NT to Linux

A new program offered by IBM could have a major impact on Windows users’ move to Linux, industry insiders speculate.

IBM on Tuesday announced it is offering training to its business partners, gratis, on migration from Windows NT to Linux. The company also is providing financial incentives to move from Windows NT. Those incentives will consist of discounts on services and software, including price reductions on the versions of Lotus Domino and Microsoft Exchange that run on Linux.

“In my opinion, if IBM can make the technical migration as painless as possible and for an attractive price, this program could have a big impact on capturing new Linux users,” Dave Hilbe, director of Linux Solutions at BMC Software, located in Houston, said in an interview with TechNewsWorld.

“Most likely, many users haven’t migrated from Windows NT because they probably have a stable, low-cost environment,” said Hilbe. “If IBM can convince these WinNT users that Linux is a stable, low-cost alternative, they could pick up a lot of new Linux users.”

IBM’s news comes as Microsoft moves forward with plans to stop providing service and support for the venerable Windows NT operating system by January 1st of next year.

No Customer Support

When Microsoft stops supporting Windows NT, it will leave some 2 million users without new security patches. That means most of these users will have to develop a strategy to migrate quickly from the discontinued software. IBM is helping its business customers move to Linux now.

“It’s a very logical move [on IBM’s part],” Ozzy Papic, president and CEO of Net Integration Technologies, a network integration firm located in Ontario, Canada, told TechNewsWorld. “IBM has invested millions in Linux. There are problems with MS applications, and Linux is a great way for IBM to make money.”

Experts expect this new program from IBM could have a big impact on customers across the board and on the overall corporate software landscape, from file sharing and print serving to database management, security and collaboration tools.

“It’s one more step in the process of helping Linux gain acceptance for deployment in critical applications,” Klaus Weidner, senior IT security consultant at ATSEC Information Security, an Austin, Texas-based computer consultancy, said in an interview.

Other IBM Strategies

IBM, based in Armonk, New York, also is offering programs to help customers move from Microsoft’s SQL Server to IBM’s DB2 database on Linux, especially for network management and security.

Research by independent consultancies has demonstrated Linux is less expensive and more stable than Windows NT for servers. This research has created a technology undercurrent in the industry that IBM is hoping to capitalize upon.

Weidner said the process will help customers undertake so-called “common criteria” evaluations of their software.

“Note that common criteria evaluations always involve several parts,” said Weidner. This includes an examination of the hardware — an IBM eServer — as well as an audit of the access controls and security controls, the consultant added.

PR Boost in Linux Community

“Among others, the U.S. government now requires common criteria certification for new installations,” said Weidner.

The move also is expected to provide a PR boost for IBM among Linux enthusiasts. “PR is a welcome side effect,” said Weidner. “IBM is, after all, in the business of selling hardware.”

Still, many users of IBM products are conservative, and many likely will stay with Windows NT even after service and support have ended, analysts speculate. “If most of these WinNT users prove to be WinNT desktop users [as opposed to Windows NT Server users], Linux won’t be an attractive alternative,” Hilbe said.

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