Yesterday it was announced that HCL Technologies will purchase the IP (intellectual property) of seven IBM-owned products, including Notes/Domino, Sametime and Connections, for a total of 1.8 billion dollar.
HCL and IBM already had a partnership on the product development side, with HCL doing the development and support with IBM still owning the products and handling sales and marketing. Now HCL is fully in charge of the product, and is not tied down by what IBM decides.
As soon as the HCL-IBM agreement was announced last year, HCL aggressively went on the offensive. They announced not one but two additional versions of Notes and Domino. Domino 10 was delivered just two months ago, and version 11 is promised in 2019.
HCL reached out to business partners and IBM Champions, as well as to the rest of the user community, to get feedback about what features were the most critical. Despite the quick release of Domino 10, a number of suggested features were included, as were several other impressive improvements.
Notable among these features is the new (and extremely fast) Domino Query Language as we as support for node.js through the domino-db module. On the administration side there were several improvements that will lower the TCO (total cost of ownership).
HCL has already announced several so called Jams in the near future to collect feedback on what the users want to see in the upcoming Domino 11.
So what does yesterday’s announcement mean for the future of Notes, Domino and Connections? I belive it will be extremely beneficial. HCL can take the products where they want them, adding functions requested by small and medium sized businesses instead of focusing on what a few very large customers wants, which is what IBM seemed to do.
By adding back low-code/no-code development into the core product, the citizen developers can again be engaged to create simple applications for their own or their department’s use. If they then need more advanced functions they can hand the application over to a traditional developer for further enhancements. This is what Notes looked like in the beginning, back in the early to mid 90’s. This is the strength of the platform, and what brought it its success.
The weakness of Notes and Domino has always been IBM:s (seemingly) lack of understanding of the product, and how it fits smaller and medium sized businesses. By going back to the original use of Domino, combined with HCL:s focus on on-premises (as opposed to IBM:s attempt to move everything to the cloud, despite what the customers want), I think HCL can bring a new life to Notes and Domino, and combine Collaborations into the mix. I can see an upcoming release of Collaboration where the data lives in a Domino database.
So for any Domino and Connections customers and business partners, I think the future looks bright. My belief is that HCL will bring new life and new functionality into the products.