It's not uncommon for companies to offer incentives to move to their products, but this week Microsoft paid the University of Nebraska $250,000 to move to it's flagship Office 365 cloud email solution. Apparently the funds come directly from an account Microsoft maintains called the "business incentive funds" which are used directly to coax clients into their products.
Information Week reports that the University of Nebraska is currently using IBM Lotus Notes for its systems but they will now move all students and faculty to their new cloud solution in the next 12-18 months. In a FAQ on the university website, they say that the "funding will pay for some consulting and licenses to convert a large percentage of our users from Lotus Notes to Office 365" and goes on to say that "[they] will also use that funding to pay for a Microsoft Premier Support agreement covering email and Microsoft Office applications for the entire university."
However, apparently the whole university except the Medical Center will be moving across, citing issues with cloud security that does not meet standards under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Microsoft outbid not only IBM, which does offer a cloud based solution of some sort, but also had to outbid Google, who had already tried to sell their products to the university. The choice ultimately came down to money, with a statement from the university saying "Microsoft was able to provide a more competitive pricing structure than Google," and that the move will cut its email operating costs from $1 million down to $500,000.
Office365 was released to the public last week at multiple launch events and is Microsoft's latest attempt at taking on Google's cloud offerings for small to medium businesses, as well as enterprises.