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Panasonic flees Microsoft Exchange for IBM cloud

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IBM will be moving Panasonic's workforce to LotusLive hosted email and collaboration software, in what it's touting as the largest enterprise cloud computing contract to date.

One day after Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard said they would spend $250m on a combined effort to push businesses toward cloud computing, IBM has swooped in with some serious thunder-stealing action while the two are still at the drawing board.

Panasonic will abandon Microsoft Exchange and other on-premise technology in favor of IBM's cloud-based LotusLive email and collaboration systems across worldwide operations. About 100,000 employees will be included in the initial migration, eventually expanding to more than 300,000 workers, partners, and suppliers. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The deal is not only significant in the size and scope of IBM's contract – but also further validation that even major enterprises are willing to embrace the cloud craze full-on. That emerging market leaves big on-premise email providers like Microsoft and Novell fending off threats from the likes of IBM, Google, and a handful of smaller players.

High profile wins for Google include transferring the city of Los Angles' 30,000 employees from Novell communications systems to Google Apps.

The Panasonic LotusLive deal leads up to next week's Lotusphere Conference in Orlando, Florida. The contract comes just one year after IBM began pitching Lotus as a cloud computing suite at last year's Lotusphere event.

IBM estimates that the global cloud computing market will grow 28 per cent annual to $128bn by 2012. ®

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