IBM (s ibm) said today that it will moving Panasonic employees to its LotusLive hosted email and collaboration service — delivering a potential blow to Microsoft (s msft) in the process, whose Exchange server will be jettisoned by the consumer electronics giant. Panasonic Corp. will begin moving 100,000 employees in various departments to LotusLive, expanding to a total of more than 300,000 employees, external partners and suppliers of Panasonic.
The move is one of several high-profile Exchange defections, as the idea of buying email as a service hosted on the web (some, including IBM, call this the cloud) takes off in the corporate world. The result is a new round of competition among the big email providers. Microsoft in particular is fending off threats from IBM and Google (s goog), as well as smaller players like Zimbra (which was just acquired by VMware (s vmw)) for corporate customers (GigaOM Pro, subscription required).
Additional related GigaOM Pro research: Email: The Reports of My Death are Greatly Exaggerated
Image courtesy of Flickr user CarbonNYC