IBM Sells off Notes and Domino to HCL


IBM announced last week that it would be selling a group of collaborative software products to HCL for $ 1.8 billion. That group includes Notes and Domino. The sale is expected to be closed mid 2019.

It was about this time last year that IBM announced a strategic partnership with HCL. They said that after more than a decade of neglect they were entering a period of renewed focus and would be increasing their investment in Notes and Domino. However, the exact opposite has happened. They have now stated that they’ve changed their focus to cloud and other technologies, and Notes/Domino including the bulk of their Collaboration portfolio no longer fit into that strategy.

I’ve read several articles about this acquisition and the opinions vary. On one hand some see it as a new wind being breathed back into the sails of Notes and Domino. Others perceive it as a sinking ship, that HCL is a services company and not a product company. HCL unveiled “Places” in May 2018, a collaborative workflow platform that some speculated was a replacement for Notes.  It takes me back to the IBM Workplace days, when Ambuj Goyal announced Workplace at  Lotusphere and all the confusion around how that product would impact Notes.

In my opinion, for many customers sitting on the fence regarding Notes and Domino, this acquisition will validate the decision to move to something else. After all, that is what Big Blue has done.



  1. Graham Acres December 27, 2018 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    Admittedly, I fall into the #dominoforever camp. I can only see an investment of $1.8B as giving Notes and Domino new life. Businesses don’t make those kinds of investments with the expectation that they won’t see a return.

  2. Gary Walsh December 28, 2018 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    I agree. This is especially true in the case of HCL, who only just recently passed the $ 1B mark in annual revenues. Betting almost two years of revenues on the purchase of the IBM collaboration suite is not to be taken lightly. Frankly, I have a problem with the use of the word “investment”. We heard that from IBM over a year ago…that the relationship with HCL represented an investment in the technology, and IBM was in the game for the long term. The reality is that they were trimming internal resources and actively looking for a company to sell the technology to. They were looking to get out of the collaboration game completely while telling partners and customers that was not the case. It can be argued that is just business but for me I do not like it.

    I think Notes and Domino has a better chance flying on the wing of HCL vs IBM. I see HCL using the terms Low-code and No-code, positioning N&D for the future. In order to bring it back to where it used to be I think they are going to have to drop the current branding. Notes, regardless its technical superiority in many ways, as a brand has been dragged through too much mud over the last decade.

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