IBM Notes Domino gets a new future with HCL Technologies.
On October 25, 2017, IBM announced (well, they blogged it) that they were entering into a strategic partnership with HCL Technologies to give the following products a new lease on development life:
- IBM Notes and Domino
- IBM SmartCloud Notes
- IBM Notes Traveler
- IBM Mobile Connect
- IBM Verse
- IBM Mail Support for Microsoft Outlook (IMSMO)
- IBM WISPR
- IBM Enterprise Integrator (LEI)
- IBM Sametime portfolio
- IBM Connections Chat/Meetings
As per the blog:
To continue innovation in the collaboration space, IBM is investing in its long-term roadmap of the Domino product family - Domino, Notes, Sametime and Verse - in 2018 and beyond. To show IBM's level of commitment to stakeholders, the company is entering into a strategic partnership with HCL Technologies to begin delivering on the roadmap with the intent to release version 10 of the Domino portfolio next year. The goal of the partnership is to drive future development of the Domino product family, energize the offering, and protect clients' investments.
As a component of the partnership, IBM and HCL are unveiling the Domino 2025 Jam to gather feedback and suggestions that will shape the future of this portfolio. Activities such as interactive face-to-face workshops in select cities worldwide, virtual events that drive broad participation, and user group events and "pop-up" meetings on-demand will be part of the Domino 2025 program. These community engagements are intended to help increase client and lab advocacy and serve as a way for groups to provide feedback on feature updates and the future direction of the Domino product family.
Additionally, both companies will work together to maintain continuity and avoid disruption to existing client relationships, support and sales processes. IBM customers and business partners will continue to engage with IBM as they have previously - and they will continue to have the ability to operate their Domino, Notes, Sametime and Verse investments for their businesses via on-premises, hybrid cloud, or public cloud offerings.
The intent of this partnership is to drive future development of IBM collaboration products (interestingly referred to as the Domino product family in the blog announcement), including a release of Domino 10 in the second half of 2018. This partnership will bring new energy into the portfolio while helping protect customer investments in these solutions.
There will be a number of "jams," including the Domino 2025 jam, which will be used to gather feedback and suggestions on product features to help shape the future direction of the platform. As per the announcement, the future of IBM collaboration products will take on a collaboration focus. One would argue that it has always been that way, where customer and ISV feedback has been taken into consideration in terms of feature requests.
What do I think about this?
Well, there are a number of things that need clarification, which I'm sure will come to light over the next few months. My initial reaction is that this could be very positive news. On the surface, another company injecting cash, developers, and enthusiasm into a product stack that has arguably been treading water is a good thing. In recent years, IBM collaboration products haven't been leading the pack as much as they've been playing catch-up. With the advent of Notes/Domino 9 back in 2013 and the switch to a feature pack model for updates only last year, it appeared IBM was trying to tout longevity and stability in the platform. As part of the feature pack model rollout, Domino 9 support was announced to "at least 2021" to show long-term support for the product. Regarding the name "Domino 2025," I'm assuming that Domino 10 will be supported until 2025 and this isn't an updated support statement for Domino 9.
The fact that we're focusing on the end-of-support year of 2025 as part of a product version announcement is just wonky. I think they could get real traction out of the Domino 10 name, so why focus on 2025?
The actual announcement did not include an announcement letter or a press release. The message is what matters, but I'd feel more safe and sound if there were a little more marketing pizazz around it. It's Domino Version 10. Put some spit and polish on it. It's how the message is received that's going to matter in the end. The Domino 9 announcement was pretty heavy-duty in retrospect. Tying it into the social branding that IBM was doing at the time certainly gave it more traction as a product that was part of the overall strategy of what IBM wanted to achieve. This time, it doesn't feel that way.
From a business perspective, I would understand that it's just probably cheaper to offshore the development. Hand it all off and just manage the product management and direction stateside. From a strategy perspective, it doesn't feel aligned anymore...or at least that's not the perception. In the last week, I've heard comparisons to OS/2 and Lenovo. It may not be fair at this point, but that's the scuttlebutt. This is a funded product continuation path forward. Full stop. For people who depend on Domino to run their business - and yes, there are many - this is very good news.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention platform support since this is a Power Systems magazine. I recall a phone conversation with the IBM Domino product manager in the summer of 2016 in which we spoke about IBM i support for the then-new Domino features like Outlook support and Verse. At that point, and still today, there is no IBM i support for those Domino add-ons, and I wouldn't expect it anytime soon. Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Windows are the platforms of choice for default supportability of an IBM collaboration-related product. While IBM i support was not going anywhere in Version 9, new versions of Domino or any IBM collaboration product would require a market study to determine what products will be supported. I've yet to speak with anyone at IBM regarding Domino 10 on IBM i. Stay tuned. I will.
The good news is that there are a lot of IBM i people at HCL Technologies. I'm connected to maybe 70 or so via LinkedIn. If there's hope in stronger support or at least familiarity for IBM i, I don't think you'd find a better development dance partner than HCL at this point in time. That's good news for our interests. I heard (but didn't confirm) that IBM sold about half a billion dollars in Dedicated Servers for Domino in 2000/2001. The Domino on IBM i imprint is out there, but the thing is that IBM i customers aren't generally calling for support, so there's a perception problem. If there are more people calling IBM for support on Windows (because support calls are inherent just by running Windows), then there's going to be a perception that IBM i isn't that popular.
I can tell you this for sure: The amount of IBM i partitions running Domino that I see in the wild are not few and far between by any stretch.