HCL buys IBM Notes/Domino and IBM Connections!


And so it goes, that what a lot of people were waiting for, maybe even hoping for, has happened: HCL has now bought the entire ICS portfolio, including IBM Notes/Domino and IBM Connections from IBM! What does this mean?

It was Thursday night that the deal was made public to the world. HCL, who last year made a deal with IBM where they would do the development for all of IBM’s ICS products (apart from IBM Connections), and who has been the main architect behind Notes/Domino V10, has now bought the ICS portfolio for $1.8 billion. Money that IBM is sorely in need of these days.

The products included in the deal are:

  • Appscan for secure application development,
  • BigFix for secure device management,
  • Unica (on-premise) for marketing automation,
  • Commerce (on-premise) for omni-channel eCommerce,
  • Portal (on-premise) for digital experience,
  • Notes & Domino for email and low-code rapid application development, and
  • Connections for workstream collaboration.

What does mean for ICS customers? Personally I think this could be a very positive thing. It’s no secret that a lot of us old timers in the ICS community feel IBM has treated the ICS portfolio, especially Notes/Domino, in a very stepmother like fashion. IBM has even admitted this during their promotion of Notes/Domino V10.

In the past year, HCL has demonstrated their commitment to the Notes/Domino platform. This has lead to more things happening on the platform than IBM managed do in the eight years(!) since Notes/Domino V9 came out. HCL has also shown that they are much more dynamic and open than IBM has ever been.

It’s been a long time since there’s been this much optimism in the Notes/Domino community. And there’s also been a lot of buzz in the tech press about all the integration possibilities that came with Domino V10.

The previous deal with IBM has been that HCL has done the development, while IBM has done sales, distribution, marketing (yeah, yeah…) and support. It now seems like HCL is going to do all of it. And since HCL is spending a lot of money on purchasing these products, and I think they will have an even greater interest in promoting the platforms.

HCL has also been talking a lot about HCL Places. A product that some people, including me, think will replace the Notes client in the long run. What will  this new deal mean for the Notes V11 client? I don’t know, but I have to say that with the focus on using Domino as a data platform for low code development, a focus on choose your own email client policy and the focus on getting things on mobile and pads, I think the Notes client’s future isn’t that bright. I’ve been wrong before, but I think a client like Places will be the way to go.

A lot of people have also speculated on why there have been so little news regarding IBM Connections in the past year. If HCL is going to spend as much energy and resources on Connections, as they have done with Domino so far, I think there are great things afoot here as well. And maybe their ideas for Places can be integrated here?

All the details of the deal aren’t public yet, but the reactions among IBM Champions, and especially in the Domino community, have been very positive.

So, what does this mean for the user  groups. The Norwegian user group I’m the leader of even have IBM in its title. We simply don’t know, yet. My cooperation with IBM will go on and until further notice, it will be business as usual. The downside to all of this is that I might have to say goodbye to several IBM employees whom have become friends during the past two decades.

I also don’t know what will happen to the IBM Champions program, which I am a part of.

One thing’s for sure: Exciting times are ahead! And I will keep you updated!

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