Thoughts and emotions : HCL Buys Numerous Software Assets from IBM, including Notes, Domino, Connections, and Sametime

December 10 2018

The news has hit - on the day before the 29th anniversary of Lotus Notes 1.0 being released, HCL has agreed to pay IBM 1.8 million for IBM Software Assets including Notes, Domino, Connections and Sametime. This also includes software products AppScan, BigFix, Unica, Commerce, and Portal. All on-premises software. All with an ecosystem of customers, partners, and history. With an expectation to close mid-2019 (and if you dig into the HCL notes on this from their website, some of that can push closer to the end of 2019), there are a lot of details that are unknown.

So first, some thoughts on the actual deal. It's clear that IBM no longer considers on-premises software strategic - at least the software included here. Many of these had already had their development and support outsourced since 2016, so it's not a huge shock, But this means sales, marketing, accounting, and community will all move from IBM to HCL. Current IBM employees will move to HCL - and yes, some might be out of a job. But we don't know what that means today. What we do know is that change is ahead - lots of change. At some point before the end of 2019, customers will get a bill from HCL. They will download software from a website other than Passport Advantage. Companies such as PSC will have the option to become HCL partners (one assumes again). And multiple communities built around software will switch from IBM to HCL.

HCL is a traditional services organization grown from it's home base in India. They traditionally have competed with the likes of Infosys, Tata (TCS), WiPro, and others. These companies aren't known for building software, sold to companies via license sales. It's going to be a whole new world of them. There will be hiccups and bumps in the road. The daunting process of just getting a clean current and past customer list seems overwhelming.

Emotionally, this hits me and so many others directly. I started with Lotus back in 1993 and Ami Pro. Notes is something I got involved with 1994. I attended Lotusphere 1996, and only missed one until the last one in 2017. My career is intertwined with software, people and activities that are based on this software. I am nostalgic about those past times and many of the friendships and relationships that  have come and gone because of some software.

As PSC's business has grown from the IBM software space to embrace more tools and solutions, this is an opportunity. The opportunity to move people off of Notes and Domino will increase with this transaction, especially in the US. I think there will be other opportunities for growth opportunities and HCL invests and creates new products from their technology and IP they are going to acquire. The only thing any of us can say for sure is that 2019 will bring a year of change.

Congratulations to the team at HCL that has worked on Notes and Domino 10 - because I think this deal doesn't happen if there wasn't a base of success to model on. I am hoping that they can work real magic as the teams across the former Lotus/ICS product line are reunited at HCL.

"May we live in interesting times" has been called both blessing and a curse - you get to decide how you react and relate to that. And putting the HCL transaction in that perspective, it is certainly interesting times.

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