It’s a few days since the news broke about the deal to sell various software solutions from IBM to HCL, coincidentally on the 29th birthday of Domino. There have been a number of blog posts, including reminiscencies to analyst reviews to interviews with HCL execs to HCL’s initial update to the community and various community posts and the inevitable fishing expeditions from migration companies.

One thing has become clear as the dust has settled: until the deal completes, it’s business as usual. 10.0.1 will ship (imminently), Connections CR4 will be delivered, IDMA and the App Dev Pack will move out of beta, Domino Jams will take place, ICS will have its (likely last) part in IBM Think and some other Domino-related initiatives will also continue to progress.

Business as usual is a more promising message for those working with Domino than Connections, that certain. But that’s because of the existing relationship between IBM and HCL, and the experience of the last year. Although some may be concerned about the future for Domino, it should be tempered by the recent past. HCL have done a sterling job as stewards of development and the strategic direction has been shaped to a large extent by the jams and the aha ideas portal. The voices of customers have been heard and will continue to be heard. The importance of business partners and the community has been stated by senior people at HCL – and backed up with actions – throughout this year. As one of those fortunate enough to have been watching from nearby, the partnership between IBM and HCL gives a confidence that many of the stable foundations have already been established.

Looking forward towards Domino V11 and beyond, I still expect focuses on JavaScript development to grow the platform to new developers, mobile to extend its reach in existing customers and low code to compete in that market. There are challenges competing on those fronts, but challenges I’m sure are well understood. And HCL will be releasing HCL Places, expected to drop next year. This looks a very promising product.

Beyond the existing areas of influence, obviously things are more open to speculation. But the lessons from the past show that HCL have had great respect for the experience of those at IBM involved with the products. Communication has been a big improvement for Domino this year and I’m hopeful to see that continue under HCL. HCL videos have also not been shy about naming products, something IBM has typically avoided but something the community has always wanted. I expect to see more of that. And there are still a good number of excellent people working on the ICS brand at IBM and I hope – for their sake and for the sake of the products – that they are allowed to continue their great work.

Similarly, there are already community ideas for Connections gathered on its aha portal, as well as intended directions for what was once Connections Pink. There are sure to be changes and some – like those we’ve seen for Domino – may be “bold, hairy audacious goals”.

But it also cannot be denied this is a huge undertaking from HCL and, at levels above all individual products, there will have to be decisions made about prioritisation and budgeting. The direction we’ve seen from IBM this year has benefited Domino over Connections, and there has been a huge amount of enthusiasm from the Domino community and customers as a result. We’ll see what those high-level strategic decisions from HCL are going forward.

One thing is beyond doubt and can never be understated: one of the biggest strengths of these collaboration products is the community around it, their passion, their desire to help each other, their desire to wring every ounce of greatness from these products for the benefit of all. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to suggest that without this community, these products would have withered long ago. This community will undoubtedly persist through the sale and beyond. HCL may have paid $1.8bn for these products, but along with that they get a community that quite frankly money couldn’t buy. Everything I’ve seen demonstrates to me that HCL fully appreciate that community and that should encourage everyone.

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