Yesterday Richard Jefts published an update on the acquisition, specifically relating to cloud. Before talking about the content, I want to comment on the approach HCL have taken. Although the blog post points to a tech note, what we have is more than a tech note and more collaborative than a press release. HCL have delivered a blog post, open for comments. Some may have seen slides from the Factory Tour and, although I wasn't there, what was said to a select audience seems to have been delivered publicly soon afterwards. This openness and transparency is a welcome approach and one also evident in our webinar next week with John Immerman. From the comments it's clear there needs to be some clarification, but I'm sure that will come. Nonetheless the transparency and willingness to engage should be appreciated and any engagement must be undertaken in a respectful manner, in order to ensure continued desire for transparency.
HCL's thoughts about cloud and customers has been consistent since the first Factory Tour, this time last year: HCL want to walk customers to the cloud, at their customers' pace, and accept that on premises is a critical requirement for some customers. At the same time we've seen consolidation of code-sets with Domino, with Windows and Mac clients now sharing a single codebase, and DMA for iPad being the same codebase as Mac. The update highlighted an aim to get a single codeset for Connections too. Although not mentioned, Verse has a different codeset on premises and on cloud, and that difference has impacted the product in the past. Removing one of those two codesets is key to the agility we all welcome for the future.
Domino Applications on Cloud was always an IBM offering. When it was released at Engage 2018, HCL also announced a cloud offering too. This was part of their entitlements under the IP agreement. It's not a surprise that HCL are not selling new DAC subscriptions. I'm not sure how widely the product was adopted, but I suspect it will have minimal impact, particularly considering the ease of migrating - i.e. replicating! - Domino data.
SmartCloud Notes and Verse
SmartCloud Notes and Verse was at the heart of IBM's "Cloud First" approach. Unfortunately, there were three main limitations that typically resulted in a hybrid environment and dual entitlement licensing:
- Mail-in databases
- Resource Reservations not being available in the multi-tenant cloud
- A comparable option for non-mail applications - XPages on Bluemix only delivered the runtime
As a result, SmartCloud Notes and Verse on Cloud are being removed. HCL will not be providing a multi-tenant cloud alternative, so the options are private cloud (AWS, Azure, IBM Cloud*), partner-led cloud (Prominic already offer this although others are probably available) or on premises. Although this may require up-skilling or outsourcing of admin, where customers are in a hybrid environment already, on premises may be a more realistic option. Business partners will be available to support whatever route customers choose.
HCL will be providing a Connections offering on cloud and further details of this will be released in due time. There are also options for private cloud and partner-led cloud, in addition to on premises. We will have to wait to see which partners intend to offer SaaS offerings for Connections and where. There are already business partners offering admin services for on premises or private cloud. As Websphere and DB2 are removed from those offerings, as Docker and Kubernetes are brought in, I expect to see significant simplifications and improvements in implementation. I'm sure we'll hear more over the coming weeks and at Social Connections, now that Connections has transitioned to HCL.
But wherever customers go, the critical requirement will be some kind of migration tool. To maximise customer buy-in, it would be good to see a free entitlement for like-to-like migrations, whether that be to on premises, private cloud or HCL cloud. Obviously I would not expect a free offering to support migrations of the platform. There will be some complexities for migrating large environments in a time-effective manner with minimal disruption. I am sure there are the beginnings of tools in place, just as a move from DB2 to Domino as a datastore would also have required some migration tool, and I look forward to an announcement in due course.
More information will certainly come out at Social Connections, particularly in the Connections Cloud Next session. DNUG are also hosting a webinar on Monday at 4pm CET with Danielle Baptiste and Andre Hegemeier of HCL titled "HCL Connections: The future is bright".
Although the announcement included news that will concern some customers, there were always going to be some significant changes to modernise and extricate tight coupling with IBM services. There will be some customers who choose this time to move away from the solutions and I am sure HCL will do what they can to minimise that. There has clearly been some analysis of the market, presumably as part of due diligence on the acquisition, and the messages are being changed in response to feedback already. Communication is key. HCL are taking an encouraging approach to communication and I hope there will be more detail about the HCL offerings as soon as viable. If you have concerns, now is the time to speak to your business partner or client advocate. If you are unaware of the client advocacy program, our webinar next Monday 3pm BST with John Immerman will give more details.
Thanks to the Social Connections crew for recording and publishing an excellent video interview with Richard Jefts. This topic is picked up about 7:00 minutes in. See the video at https://socialconnections.info/social-connections-interviews-richard-jefts-a-new-beginning/
*Formerly SoftLayer, not to be confused with what was formerly Bluemix