Indian Firm Takes Over Notes/Domino Development
November 1, 2017 Alex Woodie
The Indian IT services company HCL Technologies will have a big say in the future of IBM’s Notes/Domino and be relied upon to develop the next major release of the collaboration software due in 2018, Big Blue announced last week.
IBM announced the “strategic partnership” with the $7 billion New Delhi firm October 25 in a blog post on its website. The deal to outsource development work to HCL Technologies shows IBM’s “level of commitment to stakeholders,” writes Inhi Cho Suh, the general manager of IBM Collaboration Solutions. “The goal of the partnership is to drive future development of the Domino product family, energize the offering, and protect clients’ investments,” she writes.
The deal includes the core Domino and Notes email and communication software, in addition to Sametime and Verse. Domino and Notes are used by tens of thousands of companies around the world, and reaches millions of users, according to IBM. Sametime, you will remember, provides a “unified user experience” for instant messaging, online meetings, voice, and video, while Verse is a hosted offering that provides businesses with email, a calendar, file sharing, instant messaging, social networking, and video chats.
The deal does not appear to include other products that have been included in the Lotus Notes and Domino stack over the years, including IBM Connections and Traveler, which IBM brought to the IBM i platform over the past few years as a result of pressure from the user community. The Domino server software has run on IBM i for years, and enjoys a sizable installed base on the platform.
This isn’t the first time that IBM has worked with HCL to take over development of widely used products in the IBM software portfolio. The Indian firm has also had deals with IBM to develop the Rational and Tivoli product lines, according to The Register. It has also done work with IBM i ERP software developer IBS, which is now known as Iptor.
IBM and HCL will solicit feedback from users of the Notes/Domino installed base via the upcoming Domino 2025 Jam to determine what new features should be added to next year’s delivery of Domino version 10. Interested parties can sign up for the event series, which will take place online and in-person, at this Web URL.
It’s been five years since IBM shipped Domino version 9, which was the last major release of the platform. At the time, IBM focused on integrating social media capabilities into its collaboration software, which allowed customers to accomplish certain tasks, such as share documents, like things, follow people, and make comments on social media sites like Facebook directly from their Notes user interfaces.
However, since that version 9 release, there has been scarcely anything new out of the Domino/Notes folks at IBM. That has led some customers to question the long-term viability of the platform. When viewed in that light, the deal to outsource development work of Domino/Notes version 10 to HCL Technologies could be seen as providing a fresh lifeline for a product that was previously on life support.
Ed Brill, vice president of product management design for IBM collaboration solutions, says the deal provides a bright future for the Domino Notes platform.
“Today we’re announcing the next chapter in this portfolio,” he says in a video on the Domino 2025 Jam webpage. “I’m super excited about this partnership and the future it will bring to the Domino family of products and services. You have asked for this commitment and here it is.”
Brill also sought to calm any fears that the outsourcing deal may generate. “This is also a message about continuity,” he says. “There will be no disruption to existing client and partner relationships. Customers will continue to engage with IBM as you have previously.”
While some customers will be undoubtedly be thrilled to hear about the HCL deal, there’s another way to view it that’s less optimistic. If the product was so important to IBM and so beloved by its customers, then why would it give control of the product’s future, and undoubtedly a percentage of the proceeds it generates, to a third party? We may never know how close to death the Domino/Notes product line really was.