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IBM grabs largest enterprise cloud deployment

Big Blue notches another 100,000 seats of LotusLive as Panasonic goes all-in with cloud services.


IBM is expected to announce on Thursday the largest enterprise cloud computing deployment to date as Panasonic begins a migration off Microsoft Exchange to IBM's LotusLive cloud service. More than 100,000 employees will participate in the initial migration effort expanding to a total of more than 300,000 employees and external partners globally.

This is significant not just for the scale but also because a large, conservative company like Panasonic is moving full-on into the cloud. It's also important because this deployment replaces Microsoft Exchange and furthers IBM's leadership role in enterprise-targeted cloud services.

For the last several years, Panasonic has been undergoing a business globalization effort to consolidate internal and external facing systems and integrate the 500-plus companies that create the single Panasonic brand. In evaluating its needs to communicate with third-party suppliers and ensure consistency, Panasonic chose cloud-based services as the best solution to deal with a global workforce and partners.

Sean Poulley, vice president of IBM Cloud Collaboration Services, told me that there were a wide variety of criteria Panasonic was looking for as part of the new solution and fundamentally, it wasn't about the specific features and functions, but more that all the components were integrated and extensible via open standards.

It's interesting to contrast IBM's cloud moves, which have been extensions of business units that have existed for a number of years, such as hosted data center services in comparison with the recent announcement from HP and Microsoft (which took CNET's Ina Fried a few attempts to decipher - and she's good at this) that effectively looks like an agreement to agree.

Poulley told me that Panasonic looked at a number of ways to address its needs, but that ultimately the IBM reputation as a trusted enterprise partner played a big part in the deal. And with 18 million LotusLive accounts already active, IBM can prove that its services are ready for prime time.

And while Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard will surely offer solutions sooner or later, they will have far fewer proven use-cases to point to. That's certainly not the end of the world, but enterprise customers have expectations related to security and reliability that so far haven't been addressed in practice by Microsoft and HP.

The global cloud computing market is expected to grow at a compounded annual rate of 28 percent from $47 billion in 2008 to $126 billion by 2012. Gartner estimates $150 billion in 2013. And while I believe it will remain difficult to correlate a true dollar amount, it's clear that we've moved beyond just a trend.

Onward to the trough of disillusionment!