IBM said it is expanding its Cloud offering and has signed up a range of new customers ”“ including a General Motors unit ”“ for its LotusLive software suite.

The US computer and IT services group said it signed partnerships with Ariba and SugarCRM to expand its Cloud offering to include social commerce and customer relationship management (CRM).

Cloud computing is on the rise, it said in a press release, with General Motors Components Holdings, Irish pet food maker C&D Foods, General Milling Corp of the Philippines and several other companies adopting its LotusLive software.

IBM cited data from IDC research that project worldwide spending on Cloud services to grow threefoldto 44.2 billion dlrs by 2013.

“With this increased interest and adoption, businesses across the world are embracing IBM's public cloud services for easy-to-use collaboration tools to connect with colleagues, partners and suppliers quickly,” the company said.

IBM’s own research showed recently that two-thirds of more than 2,000 midsized companies polled are either planning or currently are deploying Cloud-based technologies.

By adding business partner integrations, IBM said LotusLive delivers more Cloud-based options. The software offers integrated applications from partners that are designed to help companies work more efficiently and effectively.

SugarCRM, a leading provider of open source CRM software, is integrating LotusLive into its customer relationship management application.  Ariba is integrating LotusLive into its Ariba Discovery service. Ariba Discovery is a free service that provides access to more than 325,000 sellers in more than 400 business categories.

General Motors Components Holdings (GMCH) purchased LotusLive to provide employees with cloud based email, calendar and contact management services. GMCH was looking to improve collaboration among its employees in plants in New York, Michigan and Indiana that manufacture HVAC climate control systems, powertrain cooling systems, engine management systems, automotive electronics and related products.

GM acquired GMCH from automotive supplier Delphi and needed to move all employees to GM compatible systems following the acquisition

IBM said the GM unit also bought LotusLive Connections software for social networking and Cloud-based cooperation.