AstraZeneca has signed a deal to outsource its data centre services to Indian IT services provider HCL Technologies.

Under the five-year contract, HCL will be responsible for managing the pharmaceutical company's entire data centre environment across more than 60 locations around the world.

The contract comes after rumours surfaced in April suggesting that AstraZeneca wanted to break off its $1.4 billion (£860 million), seven-year outsourcing relationship with IBM, which began in July 2007.

HCL will also host and migrate some of the existing data centres into new facilities, and implement a hybrid cloud for AstraZeneca under the deal. This will involve the delivery of server virtualisation and storage and backup transformation projects.

In addition, HCL will manage AstraZeneca's email, messaging and collaboration services for its global users.

Although the financial details of the contract were not disclosed, analysts at TechMarketView believe it could be "somewhere in the several tens of millions of dollars per year as a minimum".

"Beyond its financial value, this appears to be one of those contracts with a healthy amount of marketing potential, given the high profile of the client, the scope of the services covered and the apparent steal from a major incumbent," said Phil Codling, analyst at TechMarketView.

Although only HCL has announced an AstraZeneca contract, Codling said that other IT companies had been revealed in the Indian press as having won contracts with the pharmaceutical giant.

Cognizant, for example, has recently been signed up to provide programming and reporting services to AstraZeneca under a multi-year deal.

"It wouldn't be that surprising, however, if AstraZeneca had chosen to split a fairly monolithic ITO set-up into smaller chunks. A reduction in time-span and overall spend would also be very much in keeping with the times," he said.