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IBM puts up incentives to move SMBs to Linux

IBM Corp. said it's going to make it worth your while if you're a partner to encourage small and medium-sized IT shops to move to Linux.

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When IBM Corp. announced in January an initiative at LinuxWorld Conference and Expo to encourage Windows NT shops to migrate to Linux, it did so with 20 partners in tow. In the five weeks since the Linux love-fest in New York City, IBM says it has more than doubled the number of partners in the program and attributes it to the rapid ascension of the operating system into the consciousness of the enterprise.

Coupled with the lucrative business opportunity that two million displaced NT users who are losing support from Microsoft Corp. at the end of the year, IBM decided the timing was right to open a new front today in its campaign to sway Windows shops to Linux-on-IBM.

Big Blue announced today the addition of four new security partners to its NT-to-Linux program, as well as new incentive programs for distributors, resellers, consultants, integrators and independent software vendors to encourage more small and medium-sized businesses to use IBM software on Linux and Power processors.

"There are two million NT customers out there and we estimate half of those will migrate to Linux," said Scott Handy, IBM's vice president of worldwide strategy for Linux. "We've had a lot of response to the LinuxWorld announcement. We're up to 45 partners; in five weeks that's a pretty good number."

Security is a monster issue for Windows users and to see new faces like Sourcefire, commercial home of the open-source intrusion detection system Snort, antivirus leaders Trend Micro, network security leaders Check Point and BladeFusion join the partner program, Handy hopes that would quell some anxieties about securing Linux.

"Customers are buying a lot of Linux in the SMB space," Handy said. "They want security for Linux."

IBM's hopes its new partner incentives go a long way toward generating more Linux-related revenue. Currently 200 partners are participating in IBM's Value Networks program, which was introduced last year where combinations of partners create networks that help SMBs implement Linux. Leaders for Linux, select partners among those networks, get a $5,000 incentive for setting up a Linux-IBM solution at an SMB.

Under today's announcement, Leaders for Linux can now get a $7,500 incentive if the Linux solution is running on Power processors and $10,000 if the solution is part of a Value Network.

Another aspect to the Value Networks are Double Your Discount incentives where partners keep 60% of the margins they earn when they sell IBM software that runs on Linux, Handy said.

"We really encourage them to do these Value Networks," Handy said. "We have a target number of 275 of these networks doing repeatable solutions with another partner. Each partner benefits because they'll find additional customers along the way and each partner can get up to $10,000 in additional incentives."

IBM also announced that its ISV Advantage Program has grown to 200 partners and that 70% of those partners support Linux.

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