12 December 2018 Wednesday

That HCL thing ... my two cents

My thoughts on the IBM <-> HCL deal

The dust settles slowly in these days after the announcement that HCL will buy an assortment of on premises software from IBM for $ 1.8 billion.

For me, there are two sides of the same medal to look at if we talk about this deal.

Side 1: HCL and its new possessions.

HCL made it very clear that they invest into these software assets to establish a new revenue stream to their company making the move to be a software reseller too after coming from a very effictive and well-running services area.
What HCL came up with for IBM Notes/Domino V10 and the plans for V11 looks encouraging - the new features are well received by the ever-faithfull and the yet small but remarkable buzz around the platform as well. The question for me is - will this be enough for the customers to trust HCL and stay on the platform or will this be the final nail in the coffin for the remainders of the IBM collaboration portfolio ? Time will tell, everyone encourages customers to stay while I just wait for all of my fellow business partners with migration tools to creep out of the holes again to finally rip the cadaver apart... . I hope HCL is able to pull off some strong messages soon - for Connections, Commerce and Portal as well as a lot of customers are still using these tools and they have been left out in the cold at least for as long as the Domino folks by IBM. So HCL - give us a strategy update quick to let us (your potential partners and their customers) know what to expect !

Side 2: IBM - the BREXIT from eveything

How can a company possibly screw up so many things in such a short amount of time ? I am not talking Notes/Domino here specifically but it is a posterchild of what happens here. IBM starts a partnership with HCL for N/D, starts Jams, Campaigns, aha-sites and what have you like never in the years before and now, after a couple of months of making partners and customers believe they got it - no, we sell it of and declare a brexit from all things collaboration / commerce / portal and other sort that's on premises. After telling customers that nothing will change for them. Again. From doing nothing for years to start building a momentum to shooting yourself in the foot in two months from the V10 launch - that really can only be topped by the british brexit circus. How much money got spent, how much momentum has been built for this now ? This for me shows IBMs misery these days - conflicting, not trustworthy messages and I am sure that the people in the respective brands were as surprised as us outsiders about these rapid changes. So everyone still using the cloud offerings of IBM should notice this behaviour. Can you really trust this company with your data going forward ? IBM believes in the Cloud so keeping Connections Cloud ond Verse in the Cloud makes sense... . Wait a minute. What ?! For how long ? And then what ? Who will be in charge for bug fixing, support, future development ? I guess the cloud stuff would have been sold as well if the data security issues would have been easier to resolve.

To me, the state of IBM is shocking. Is this a company I can/want to partner/trust in the future ? Of course all of this is part of business as usual but while other companies buy and sell parts of their portfolio all the time, the clear lack of vision and somewhat coordinated communication within the last couple of months leaves me almost speechless. The company I started my professional career in is no longer a general IT business. It's becoming a highly profitable niche player, discontinuing stuff on the go they are no longer able to sustain and maintain. Good luck IBM. I don't think this will lead you and your (in a lot of cases very talented) employees into a sustainable future. But that's just my guess - who am I to tell IBM what to do ;-).


On the upside of things I believe that for most customers using the tools now sold to HCL there will be a smooth transition regarding contracts, support and so forth so nobody will be left out in the cold. The real issues for me are more strategic ones.
Thank god the holiday season is coming up, this leaves some off time to vent and think things through. While I am tempted to become an HCL partner with my companies, I will have to think twice of what to do with IBM. I have to see if there is enough value proposition in the watson area for us as a small ISV to continue or if we should switch to AWS, MS or Google for all things cloud based services. We do this to some extent today already, but damn it, I would have loved to have some compelling options in this game using IBM technology. Today, after some really bad experiences with the IBM Cloud, I'm not so sure there either. Lots to think about for 2019... . What's your take ?
Heiko Voigt   |   12 December 2018 13:04:29   |    HCL  IBM  Domino  Notes  Connections    |  
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Comments (8)

Christian       12.12.2018 14:27:19

Hallo Heiko,

wir werden kein cent mehr bei IBM-Produkte investieren.

Richard       12.12.2018 18:04:09

For IBM to make all the noise they did about #Domino2025 and then turn around and sell the Notes/Domino IP just over a year later is a big disappointment to say the least. Couple that with the $34B purchase of Red Hat and the signal is clear: IBM was never truly interested in revitalizing the platform.

"Is this a company I can/want to partner/trust in the future?"

This one phrase best summarizes your post and my thoughts as well.

Glen       13.12.2018 10:15:48

"While I am tempted to become an HCL partner with my companies, I will have to think twice of what to do with IBM. I have to see if there is enough value proposition"

Echos of the Brexit debate you mention. Have you decided your troubled relationship with your long term partner is no longer fruitful?

Heiko Voigt    http://www.sit.de    13.12.2018 10:20:56

@Glen - no, I'm not that far yet. As I said - we will use the calm days between the years to investigate and ask ourselves if there's still enough fruitfulness in our partnership with IBM to bring it forward with a different set of products and services. And I guess that's a normal process in the business world - in changing times, every business has to re-evaluate constantly which basket to put the eggs in from time to time. And we will do just that in a serious business way apart from being anoid by communications processes we do not like.

Heiko Voigt    http://www.sit.de    13.12.2018 10:30:57

@Richard - now with HCL in the lead we do not have to deal with IBM anymore for all things ICS. So I guess that's positive then, right ?

John Curtis    https://jdcurtisblog.wordpress.com/    13.12.2018 13:50:12

The biggest factor in continuing business is that the same people who have delivered product for the past 20 years are still delivering it, and more people are being brought on, trained to continue, etc. Some day I will write very candidly and pointedly about all that happened at IBM, but I don't think it's that hard to see what happened when people were released to do their best work.

Talk is cheap; gotta go write some more code. DQL. It's all the rage :-)


Richard       13.12.2018 18:12:09

@Heiko - it's hard to say exactly what's going to happen with Notes/Domino as an HCL-owned product. Even though IBM let the product languish for many years, just the fact that the IBM brand was still behind it probably convinced a large number of customers to keep it. And remember, even with IBM behind it (albeit half-heartedly), a lot of customers still migrated away over the years.

So with the IBM brand going away, I think you'll see an even larger exodus of customers (at least in the US and Europe). Can HCL sell new seats? The prospect of big sales numbers here seems greatly diminished now. Anything's possible but in any event, IMO, the old partner/reseller ecosystem that the product once enjoyed is not coming back.

David       14.12.2018 13:34:48

Sounds to me like the Jam/Domino2025 hyping was more for HCL's benefit than ours, in a cost/benefit exercise of marketing budget vs. increased sale price of ICS to HCL.