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IBM offers bounty for Exchange customers

Big Blue says partners can earn up to $20,000 by getting Microsoft Exchange users to switch to Lotus Domino on Linux.

IBM upped the stakes in an ongoing contest over corporate e-mail software with a program that offers business partners up to $20,000 to dump Microsoft's Exchange in favor of IBM's Lotus software on Linux.

Dubbed "Migrate to the Penguin," the latest IBM incentive plan, to be announced later on Thursday, is an expansion of its Move2Lotus program, which is aimed at winning over third-party consultants and software resellers that work with Microsoft's Exchange.

IBM is offering a limited-time rebate for IBM partners that move customers from Microsoft Exchange to Lotus Notes and Domino on Linux. The offer gives $20 per licensed Exchange user, or "seat," maxing out at $20,000.

In addition, IBM is offering a service to have customers' Domino servers hosted on a trial basis rather than have the software installed on in-office servers.

The expanded competitive offer is the latest salvo between IBM and Microsoft, the two dominant suppliers of e-mail and collaboration software to corporate customers.

In January of this year, Microsoft released a set of software tools designed to simplify the process of moving Domino data onto Exchange.

In a recent interview, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said, "We have more big customers than ever looking to do Notes-to-Exchange migrations."