You may have heard that in December 2018, HCL Technologies agreed to acquire several software assets from IBM, including Lotus Notes, Domino, IBM Portal and IBM Commerce. These have all been long term investments by IBM and have had strong customer support for many years. What many people don’t know is that IBM has been slowly contracting with HCL to take on more and more development of IBM products since 2015. In 2017 HCL took over development of Lotus Notes and Domino and in August 2018, HCL took over development of IBM WebSphere Portal, IBM Web Content Management and Web Experience Factory.
Since it’s been many years since I worked with Lotus Notes and Domino and we’ve seen their market share dwindle over the past decade, I want to focus on the sale of IBM WebSphere Portal. In the sale, HCL took control of the on-premise version of the portal products, while IBM owns the cloud-based Watson Content Hub.
Does the sale of these products to HCL indicate they are no longer viable platforms?
For long-time customers of these products, it can be very unnerving to hear that IBM has divested itself of these products. IBM Portal, or Digital Experience Platform, has been a leader in the horizontal portal market for over a decade. Many, many internal and external sites use this platform as the basis for a large scale, enterprise class website.
We hear from other analysts that HCL plans to continue developing the systems, though time will tell if HCL is making a license run-out play on these systems. For now, it appears that HCL is continuing to improve features and develop the roadmap for these products.
So what should you do as an IBM WebSphere Portal customer?
First, it’s too early to panic. These systems are not dead products and HCL is a major technology company. Clearly in the next couple of years, the HCL strategy will start to sort itself out and we will have greater insight into their plans.
Second, if you are currently in the market for a new portal or content management platform, you should carefully evaluate the vendors based on both current and future needs. It may be that the HCL Portal (I’m not sure what HCL will be calling these products) will be the right choice based on your particular requirements. Don’t reject these platforms just because they changed owners.
Finally, if you are an existing customer, 2019 would be a good year to evaluate your future needs and see what platforms you might want to consider in case you do want to make a switch. Moving from one platform to another is a time-consuming endeavor and has a lot of risks, so carefully evaluating why, how and to whom to move to is a critical first step.
For the past five years, we have helped lots of companies with platform selection in this space. We have experience in all the major platforms, including IBM, HCL, Adobe, Sitecore, Microsoft, Liferay, Episerver, Coremedia, Salesforce and Oracle. Let us know how we can help guide you through this transition.