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HCL Domino: Is it time to migrate to Microsoft?

Posted by Alfie McDonald on March 14th 2023

With HCL stopping support for Domino 10.x next year, and Domino 9.x users already operating without technical help, the platform looks set to become a true legacy technology. Businesses still relying on Domino and Lotus Notes should be starting to think now about migrating to Microsoft, so they can avoid any issues down the line and make the most of migration…

 

The background

In the 1990s, as office computers came of age, Domino was a unique platform that was ahead of its time. Businesses across industries flocked to it, finding real value in the messaging and workflow capabilities of the user-facing Notes. But it was its app development capabilities that won it a legion of die-hard fans.

Domino allowed businesses to design and build applications to meet every business need they had, resulting in a platform that delivered tailored functionality and individual value. So even when the digital age began to take hold towards the end of that decade – Microsoft shook the foundations of the sector with Exchange in 1996 – there were those who clung to Domino and Notes.

It is arguably this core of die-hard supporters that has kept Domino alive, even through various sell-offs and acquisitions. When IBM offloaded it to HCL in 2019, annual releases became the norm and the platform has struggled to find its feet as new-kid-on-the-block SaaS providers have flooded the market with products delivering greater flexibility, speed and agility.

 

The current picture for Domino and Lotus Notes

Domino 9.x and 10.x are the last ones to have been created under the IBM banner. Both remained true to the app-development ethos of early versions, and both have been reliable for customers. But support for 2012 release 9.x ended in December 2022, and customers of Domino 10.x, many of whom have only recently upgraded following its 2018 debut, will be without technical support from 2024.

The latest update – v12.x – is doing its best to integrate more modern, cloud-based functionality, but it feels half-hearted and the platform finds itself straddling a divide between true modernisation and continuing to deliver for its longstanding fans. This leaves its 15,000 customers facing a tricky decision: stick with it and continue in a half-migrated state running legacy applications on ageing servers, or say ‘thanks for the memories’ and embrace a cloud-first platform?

The problem with the status quo

Security

Inertia is one of the biggest barriers to IT modernisation, but it’s increasingly a security risk too. No further technical support for HCL Domino and Lotus Notes means no patches, no upgrades, no compatibility or code fixes. And all of this leaves business systems vulnerable.

Looming talent gap

Domino tech developers are harder to find three’s a lack of new talent coming up through the ranks with ambitions to forge a career running 10+-year-old technology. As the talent retires out of the market over the next few years, it will become increasingly difficult to find anyone who can run and make any fixes.

Ageing tech

Many of the businesses that have been running Domino and Lotus Notes since its early days will still be relying on software that’s sat in a server cupboard somewhere, not being maintained. But the hardware is ageing, and fixes are becoming harder and more time-consuming to make.

Costly fixes

All of the above – ageing talent, ageing tech and no support from HCL – means the cost of making fixes is going to skyrocket over the next few years. Businesses will need to budget for this, if they’re committed to maintaining Domino.

End of support essentially means end-of-life for older versions of HCL Domino and Lotus Notes. Businesses still running the platform have a golden opportunity now to future-proof their systems by migrating to Microsoft.

 

The business benefits of Microsoft

Migrating to Microsoft sooner rather than later will be a sound business decision for many companies. The Microsoft 365 environment and Power Apps platform are a state-of-the-art alternative to HCL Domino and Lotus Notes that gives businesses access to:

The latest tech. The entire Microsoft 365 platform is built using cutting-edge tech, but Power Apps brings Domino’s custom app development into the modern age, letting businesses build powerful, end-to-end solutions to meet every business need.

The newest features. Machine learning and AI enhance the latest features to deliver countless time-saving and productivity-boosting tools. Templating of applications, for example, enables rapid process automation and iterative development without needing to sacrifice speed, user experience or security.

Better functionality. The Microsoft ecosystem is packed with productivity, collaboration, communication, security and data-handling tools and apps, delivering greater flexibility and efficiency in a modern platform.

Cost predictability. A straightforward licensing subscription model lets businesses manage and optimise costs on an OpEx basis. Cloud-based provisioning of key applications reduces maintenance overheads and eliminates the cost of hardware repairs.

24/7 support. With around 345 million users, Microsoft 365 is going nowhere. Around-the-clock support helps businesses make fixes and navigate issues quickly, in real-time.

Migrating from HCL Domino and Lotus Notes to Microsoft 365

For businesses that are still operating on Domino and Notes, the prospect of migrating the entire system can be daunting. Bigger businesses who have been using the platform for upwards of 10 years are often running hundreds of custom-built apps on legacy infrastructure. And while migrating comms tools like email and messaging is a straightforward process, it’s a different story when it comes to those bespoke, business-critical applications that have been running indefinitely. These will need to be rebuilt in the Microsoft platform to match business requirements.

At BCN, we can help with migrating and building apps in the new ecosystem, freeing your teams up to focus on things like NSF archives and backups, which may have been left languishing on decommissioned servers for some time. (If these archives containing any sensitive personal or proprietary data, you’ll need to dispose of it appropriately, or at least make sure it’s secured to modern standards.)

BCN can help with:

Technical support for Domino. Our teams can provide ongoing support and expertise with HCL Domino and Lotus Notes for businesses still running the platform.

Migration planning. When you’re ready to make the move to Microsoft, we can help map out your migration from discovery and methodologies through to building and launching all your apps.

Process planning. There’s a lot to consider and plan for when migrating your business; we’ll break the process down into bitesize chunks to make it straightforward and achievable.

Technical expertise for migration. We can help to scope, understand your requirements, and then rebuild your platform within the new ecosystem.

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