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Panasonic Dives Into IBM's Cloud

Panasonic chooses IBM's LotusLive product for a major cloud deployment.

OSAKA, Japan (TheStreet) -- Panasonic (PC) has chosen IBM (IBM) - Get International Business Machines Corporation Report for a major IT overhaul, a job that's being touted as the biggest-ever enterprise deployment of cloud computing.

Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but Panasonic is about to begin a massive migration over to IBM's

LotusLive

technology. Launched in early 2009, LotusLive is hosted by IBM in its own data centers and encompasses email, social networking features and online meetings.

"This is quite probably one of the most sizable cloud collaboration deals so far in the marketplace," Sean Poulley, IBM's vice president of online collaboration, told

TheStreet

. "Panasonic selected LotusLive to help globally integrate its entire business."

Shifting away from

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report

Exchange and a number of other collaboration products, Panasonic will eventually move more than 100,000 employees onto LotusLive. The transition, which is expected to take place over the next couple of years, will eventually extend LotusLive to more than 300,000 Panasonic workers, partners and suppliers.

Cloud technology

, which offers compute power, storage and other services via the Internet, has been

gaining momentum

recently. Companies such as

Amazon

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,

AT&T

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, Microsoft and IBM are all

pushing

cloud as a way for firms to avoid the upfront costs of hardware and software.

LotusLive, which also competes with

Google

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Apps, is seen as a key weapon in IBM's armory, enabling the tech giant to tap into the trend for Web-based email. Tech research firm Gartner predicts that about 20% of U.S. firms will send at least part of their e-mail through Web browsers by 2012.

IBM already uses cloud technology within its own

organization

, and other firms are also

increasing

their cloud efforts.

Earlier this week,

VMware

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bought

email specialist

Zimbra

from

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

for an undisclosed fee, a move that was seen as a challenge to both IBM and Microsoft.

"Clearly the

email collaboration space is one of the leading insertion points for cloud computing and cloud technology," Poulley told

TheStreet

. "

But we're confident in our leadership position in the collaboration space."

IBM recently

fleshed out

its cloud strategy, launching its Smart Analytics Cloud, a set of technologies for firms that want to compile information across their organization.

Panasonic is not the only company turning to LotusLive. IBM will also announce a five-year deal to supply LotusLive iNotes to UTV Software, an India-based media and entertainment company.

According to Poulley, other deals loom on the horizon, but he's unable to divulge details.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York

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