Challenging Google in the cloud computing market for messaging and collaboration software, IBM landed Panasonic as a customer for its LotusLive SAAS programs. More than 150,000 workers at the Japanese electronics maker will use IBM's hosted e-mail, social networking Web conferencing, file sharing, instant messaging and project management applications. The company unseated Microsoft's Exchange e-mail server and a number of other collaboration solutions, including IBM's original on-premise Lotus Notes and Domino server. The news comes days before IBM kicks off Lotusphere in Orlando, Fla.
IBM has landed a major customer for its cloud computing
initiative in Panasonic Corporation, with 150,000 employees of the Japanese
electronics maker using IBM's LotusLive hosted, Web-based collaboration software.
When fully deployed this year, it could be the largest
SAAS (software as a service) implementation ever. Panasonic employees will use
LotusLive applications for e-mail, Web conferencing, file sharing, instant
messaging and project management, all of which are hosted on servers in IBM's
Financial terms of the deal, which IBM closed in
November, were not disclosed. However, the sheer number of employees using
LotusLive puts the contract in the millions of dollars, Sean Poulley, vice
president of online collaboration for Lotus Software, told eWEEK ahead of the
company's annual Lotusphere event, beginning Jan. 17 in Orlando, Fla.
The LotusLive iNotes hosted e-mail application costs $3
per user, per month, but Poulley said use of LotusLive apps will vary from one employee
group to another.
For example, Panasonic will incur a higher cost for employees
who use iNotes along with LotusLive's Web conferencing and file sharing apps. Monthly
use per employee could run $50, but Poulley said he figures the range will be
somewhere between $3 and $15 per employee.
Moreover, the number of users could potentially double if
enough employees use the LotusLive Connections social networking software to
collaborate with external partners, suppliers and customers. IBM is banking on
this corporate firewall extension to grow the collaboration software segment of
its cloud computing business.
The size of the deal dwarfs the biggest enterprise contracts
for Google Apps, easily the leading cloud computing collaboration platform used
by more than 2 million businesses ranging from five to
tens of thousands of users.
A Google spokesperson said Rentokil Initial, with 35,000
users, the City of Los Angeles, with
34,000 seats and Valeo with 32,000 users, are among its biggest contracts. Google
offers its Gmail, Docs and VOIP programs free as Google Apps and for $50 per
user, per year for a premier edition.
IBM's value proposition is that customers will start
small with iNotes for $3 per user, per month, then work up to Web conferencing,
project management and social software if they like what they get from IBM's
Yet IBM didn't poach Panasonic from Google. Instead, the
company unseated Microsoft's Exchange e-mail server and a number of other
including IBM's original on-premise Lotus Notes and Domino server, Poulley
In some ways, the Panasonic deal is a bit of a
IBM's rendering of Lotus as a cloud computing suite began
at last year's Lotusphere, when the company renamed its Bluehouse hosted extranet solution LotusLive Engage and extended
the brand with the
Lotus Connections hosted social software and
iNotes hosted e-mail.
Over the course of 2009, Poulley said small and medium
businesses (SMBs) and large enterprises have adopted LotusLive's collaboration
services to the sum of 18 million seats worldwide. These include users at Trajkovski
& Partners Consulting in Skopje, Macedonia, Collaboration Matters Limited
in the U.K., and Netherlands-based RealConnections.
Preparing to broaden the international scope of the
LotusLive portfolio even further, LotusLive Engage and LotusLive Connections are
now available in Brazilian, Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Japanese,
Korean, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese and Spanish.
International expansion will be key as IBM continues to
challenge not only Google, but Microsoft, whose entrance into cloud
collaboration this year will immediately make it a force to be reckoned with at
the bargaining tables of corporations worldwide.
Cisco Systems and smaller players such as Zoho and others are also vying for
the same business.