It’s not often in one’s career that you get tapped to take over marketing for a legendary portfolio of products. A portfolio with a history so astounding that even just one of its products, HCL Domino, single handedly invented some of the most essential IT technologies still used today. You see, HCL Domino was a NoSQL database before NoSQL was ubiquitous, it was a Rapid Application Development (RAD) platform before RAD was even a thing, and it was and still is adored and used by millions of people globally.
True to anything built to last, HCL Domino certainly experienced its fair share of ups-and-downs over the years, but it’s still as essential as ever even after just celebrating its 30th launch anniversary earlier this month.
Domino’s Origin Story
1989 was an important year. It was a time of political upheaval, the Brandenburg Gate was finally opened paving the way for German reunification, it was a time for the arts, Tim Burton’s Batman premiered and George Michael’s Faith won Album of the Year at the Grammy’s, and it was a time for world-changing technology to take center stage.
On November 27th, 1989, Lotus Notes Release 1 Gold Build was compiled, and while the launch itself wasn’t until a few days later on the 7th of December, it was the birthday for Domino and Notes. But that was just the beginning.
After 6 short years, and immense success, Lotus Development Corporation, the original development company for Lotus Notes, was acquired by IBM for $3.5 billion USD in what would be IBM’s largest acquisition in its history. And this transformative software would transform the tech giant. With the close of the acquisition in 1995, Lotus Development became a new business unit at IBM, and was the very start of the IBM Software Group. That’s right — the acquisition of Lotus was the spark that made IBM a software focused business, a precursor to the business unit that would create IBM Watson and IBM Cloud.
But as with most large companies, IBM’s priorities shifted, product updates stalled, and the once vibrant community so aptly called “Team Yellow” was left on its own in many ways. This came to a head in October 2017 when HCL Technologies announced an IP partnership with IBM Collaboration Solutions to take on development for Domino to deliver the first product update users would have seen in years, and on October 10, 2018, Domino v10 was released. To say it reinvigorated the platform would be an understatement. People around the world quite literally rolled out the yellow carpets to celebrate this monumental moment. And the success was noticed. On December 7, 2018, literally 29 years to the day after Lotus Notes Release 1 was compiled, HCL Technologies announced an intent to purchase Domino (and Sametime, Connections, and Digital Experience) and a number of other valuable, yet underserved products. The groundwork and path to a new decade was taking shape.
Where We Are Today
On July 1, 2019, the acquisition closed, and these legendary products found new life at HCL Software. But starting off at a new company has its starts and stops. We had to build a new website, set up core systems, look back at our pricing and licensing models, consider technical debt in the products, and take a hard look at where we wanted to take the products in the future. It was a lot — to say the least — but the HCL teams are ready to tackle every challenge. We are going to reinvigorate the Domino brand yet again. And, as we hope you realize, this is — again — only the beginning. We are happy to be on this journey with you. Read about our recent Live from Tokyo event and see just how we are building momentum.
To the next decade and beyond,
Head of Marketing, HCL Digital Solutions