Should you stick with Notes, Domino, Connections, & Sametime now that HCL bought them from IBM?
(If you are a technical expert and you are not sharing this information with your business management as well as your IT management, then you are not doing your job.)
Since HCL bought Notes, Domino, Sametime, Connections and several other products from IBM, many people are asking: “Now what? Is this the end or the beginning?”
I have been watching closely what HCL says as well as what they do. I have had long conversations with people at some of the highest levels of HCL. Those of you who have seen me at the conferences know my IBM Champion or HCL Master titles be damned, I don’t hold back any punches. I’ll the first to point it out when “the Emperor has no clothes.” So let me share with you what I know.
My first observation:
HCL is more interested in producing product than marketing it. HCL confirms this. Right now they aren’t doing a lot of blowing their own horn from a marketing perspective, at least not yet. I have asked about this and their answer is simple: They would rather let their actions speak loudest right now. That does not sit well with me having watched IBM do NO marketing for the past 20 years, but I am told that will soon change. I hope so because the absence of a message leaves people to make up their own.
My second observation:
If HCL were a car, it would be a Tesla because the only other time I have felt this much acceleration, that’s what I was driving.
That is how I would describe the pace of software development since HCL took over. The first sign of this was that HCL has more than doubled the number of people on the software development team since taking ownership.
My third observation:
HCL mishandled the initial announcement of the decommissioning SmartCloud Notes / Connections Cloud (SCN/CC).
Yes, the implementation of SCN/CC was clunky and the environment was mismanaged by IBM so it was losing money for IBM. HCL was smart to shed this and focus on what they do best. But it would have been better if they had announced the transition partners at the same time or in advance of declaring they were dropping SCN. HCL also recognizes this error and has worked hard to make it easy to transfer to the partners. For what it’s worth, IBM was not too cool in how they handled that part of the software deal with HCL and that was beyond the control of HCL. If you are hosting on SCN/CC, you are much better off transferring to one of the designated hosting partners than trying to go through a migration to a different platform. The end results will actually be even better than what was available in IBM’s cloud.
If HCL is letting their work speak for itself, what exactly is their work saying?…
HCL first got involved in the software development about 2 years ago and the final acquisition was June 2019. In those 2 years HCL has:
- Produced 2 major releases of Notes & Domino (IBM produced only 4 major releases in 20 years)
- Produced major releases of Connections and Sametime
- Created Nomad, an entirely new product: a lean & clean Notes client for iOS & Android
- Are close to releasing a Notes client that runs entirely in a browser
- Are close to releasing Volt, the software that will put low-code software development back in the hands of the power user like it was in the earlier days with Lotus Notes
- Added Domino Query Language (DQL) for better database searching
- Online training courses are coming for end users, developers, and administrators
They achieved all of this by increasing horsepower and removing the throttle limiter – They told the software development teams “You know best what we need. You make the choice and you make it happen“. Then HCL went on a hiring spree, more than doubling the resources. Then HCL got out of their way. It is amazing what brilliant people can do when you just let them.
(Yes it really exposes just how much IBM starved software development for decades.)
Oh, by the way…
This was all done while at the same time HCL was busy creating this entirely new business line within the company — Digital Solutions— along with all the necessary back office corporate infrastructure like marketing, software development protocol, business partner support, HCL Masters program, software inventory control, product rebranding, technical support, documentation, a process for receiving product ideas and feedback, websites to support all of those pieces and on and on. In essence, they are a 2-year-old multi-billion dollar startup. It feels as if Lotus is back in charge and it feels good.
With all the work they are doing, it is your responsibility to implement the solutions. Make sure you are taking full advantage of what HCL is providing:
- Be on Notes and Domino V11
- Have Sametime chat and online awareness and Connections Files and Profiles running
- You should have Nomad deployed to iPad users and plans for deployments to iPhones and Androids
- MarvelClient Essentials should be deployed to manage the client software. All of this is part of the typical standard licensing
- Investigate how you could be using Domino apps to solve business problems including the free apps at OpenNTF.org
- Consider saving costs by running these servers on Linux instead of Windows
- Properly train users, developers, and administrators
After that, if there are features or enhancements your business needs that you don’t see in the product, post them at the Product Ideas Lab website. Since HCL started this feedback website a year ago, they have already shipped 134 of the proposed ideas, 67 more are in development and over 600 more are marked as likely to be implemented. This is all in addition to the hundreds of features, fixes, and products they were already doing on their own. It is impressive just how responsive HCL has been to the suggestions posted.
- HCL is doing superhuman work advancing their products and adding new ones to the portfolio. They have more than doubled the development team and invested over $2 Billion on the software suite so far and they are just getting started. The future of the HCL (Lotus) software suite is the brightest it has been since Lotus was bought by IBM.
- They have a few challenges they are working through (pricing models, Marketing).
- It is your responsibility as a savvy business owner to be sure you are leveraging everything you are paying HCL for.
I have performed many email migrations to/from every major platform out there. I even worked on Microsoft’s O365 team. Migrations are always vastly more expensive and disruptive to businesses than expected with less payoff than anticipated. And if you have Domino applications then migration costs can be prohibitive, so you will still have Domino for apps even if you aren’t using it for email. It would be far more productive spending that same money on improving and cleaning up your existing system and educating users instead of migrating. The HCL acquisition of the IBM collaboration software portfolio is what we have needed for a long time. The beauty is if you are already on Notes & Domino, you’re in the right place at the right time.