Microsoft flexed its muscle in the cloud computing arena by announcing that it has signed on three big-name customers.

The software giant revealed at its annual financial analyst meeting that Dow Chemical, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, and the University of Georgia, are among the latest to sign up for its hosted email and portal offerings.

Dow Chemical is moving its enterprise users onto Microsoft’s cloud-based collaboration offering (Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite), which includes online versions of Exchange, Office Communications and SharePoint.

In a statement Dow vice president of information systems Mack Murrell said the company’s confidence in Microsoft’s expertise in the cloud was a big factor in closing the deal. “Our implementation requirements and business model were unique, and we are confident that Microsoft will deliver a solution to fit our needs,” he stated.

Hyatt also purchased the cloud-based Business Productivity Suite, which will be used by about 17,000 employees in its corporate offices and at Hyatt properties. In addition, Hyatt purchased licenses for 40,000 “deskless” associates who work in the hotel chain’s U.S., Canadian, and Caribbean properties.

“Many people working in our hotels aren’t available full time at their desks, but still need access to the same email, instant messaging and other collaboration tools as the rest of our employees,” chief information officer Mike Blake said in a statement.

The University of Georgia is implementing Microsoft’s Live@edu service, a no-cost suite of online communication and collaboration services based on such products as Outlook, Office and Exchange. With Live@edu, 85,000 Georgia students, faculty and staff will be able to access email, calendars and documents via a Web browser on a cloud infrastructure.


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