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July 10 (Reuters) – Fujitsu Ltd (6702) and Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT) will share data centers worldwide to catch up with Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and other pioneers in providing software and computing services online, the Nikkei business daily said.

Microsoft, stretched thin in customer support, will combine its software with the customer service of Fujitsu, which operates about 90 data centers in 16 countries, the daily said.

Fujitsu will start hosting Microsoft cloud services at its Tatebayashi center in Gunma Prefecture this year, to be followed by locations in the United States, the UK and Singapore, the Nikkei said without naming sources.

The partners are considering joint investment in the centers, which would cost tens of billions of yen, the daily said.

Microsoft seeks to expand its cloud services worldwide, having opened massive data centers in Chicago and Dublin last year, the Nikkei said.

Microsoft believes that teaming up with Fujitsu will help it make customers of globalizing Japanese companies, the daily said.

In January, Microsoft introduced Windows Azure, which gives businesses Internet-based access to Windows software stored at Microsoft data centers., a leader in cloud services, has about 77,000 customers worldwide, including Japan’s ministry of economy, trade and industry and Sompo Japan Insurance Inc, the Nikkei said.

Google, which invested about 700 billion yen in its cloud computing business from 2006 to 2009, counts toilet manufacturer Toto Ltd (5332.T) among its customers in Japan, the daily said.

The world market for cloud computing, according to U.S. research firm IDC, will grow to $55.5 billion in 2014 from $16 billion in 2009, the Nikkei said.

Japan’s IT industry is hampered by its inability to offer the same level of cloud services worldwide even as more domestic firms globalize, the Nikkei said. (Reporting by Isheeta Sanghi in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian)