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Microsoft Will Pay for U. of Nebraska’s Switch to Its New Cloud-Based Service

Microsoft has nabbed a new client for Office 365, its cloud-based suite, but it will cost the software giant $250,000.

The University of Nebraska has agreed to make the move from IBM’s Lotus Notes to the new Office 365 platform in exchange for $250,000 in business-incentive money to cover the cost of migrating its e-mail and calendar systems for staff and faculty. Officials would not disclose how much the university will spend for the e-mail service.

Office 365 was released at the end of June and includes online communication tools like Exchange in addition to e-mail and Microsoft Office. The university received proposals from IBM and Google but ultimately went with Microsoft for pricing and usability.

“We did not solicit this—they offered this,” said Walter G. Weir, chief information officer at the University of Nebraska. “I think they saw that the stumbling block would have been the cost of migration.”

It is rare that for companies to provide financial incentives to university clients to switch systems.

The university, a system of five campuses across Nebraska, will roll out the software to four of the campuses starting in the fall, with a plan to finish by next summer. The University of Nebraska Medical Center will continue to use Microsoft Exchange because officials there say that system offers better privacy and security controls.

The deal does not affect student e-mail accounts. Some Nebraska campuses now use Microsoft’s free Live service for student e-mail, while other campuses have adopted Google’s free Apps for Education for student accounts.

The university has been using IBM’s Lotus Notes program since 1997, but its leaders wanted software that was more easily updated, said Mr. Weir. “With the cloud, the hardware requirements go away,” he said. The university expects to save half a million annually because of lower hardware, licensing, and staffing costs.

Microsoft officials declined to comment on whether they plan to offer similar incentives to other universities.

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