US appliance giant Whirlpool is ditching Lotus Notes for its 68,000-strong workforce for Google’s Apps.  It is unclear whether the deal will affect the firm's use of Microsoft’s Exchange and Office.

The timescale for the change was not revealed in a blog interview on Google’s Enterprise blog, but the significance of the firm’s move to cloud applications was.

“The move to Google Apps isn’t just a change in IT strategy, it’s a shift in our company culture,” said Whirlpool’s CIO, Mike Heim.

The global scale of the firm’s operations represented a challenge on its own and the time had come to provision this infrastructure in a new way.

“Google Apps is a simple solution in many ways, but the features are actually very sophisticated, enabling us to surround our business processes with the right tools to connect people,” said Heim. “We believe Google Apps is helping us break down our geographical barriers and work together quickly, from anywhere, keeping us on track to help build what we call, ‘the winning workplace.’"

Google's blog did not mention Lotus Notes but a report in the Wall Street Journal named IBM's application as the loser.

Google already boasts that 5 million businesses use Apps for email, scheduling and calendaring, and group collaboration on documents of various types; the overlap with Lotus Notes is obvious.  

Is the deal a sign of the strength of Apps or the weakness of Notes?

Although the Whirlpool win is one of the largest ever announced for Apps (pharma firm Roche adopted Apps for its 90,000 employees in 2012) IBM’s Notes has looked like an increasingly troubled rival. Marked as a weak performer in IBM’s Q4 2012 financials even as new social features are rolled out, to its detractors its best days behind it.

After struggling for years to contain Exchange it now looks as if the platform is battling Apps on a second front as Google’s ambitions shift from SMEs to larger enterprises.