Lotus Notes’ life support is over – what now?

The old IBM versions of Lotus Notes and IBM Domino are nearing end of life, while HCL continues to invest in future releases of HCL Domino

ibm lotus notes end of life

What happened with IBM Notes and IBM Domino, in brief

What: HCL announced the end of support date for Domino 9 and Domino 10. This was the first such announcement since HCL acquired the Lotus Notes and Domino product family from IBM back in July 2019, and these versions were the last ones created under the IBM brand.

So What: These releases have been considered reliable and some customers have upgraded to Domino 10 more recently. Moreover, even older (10+ years) versions of Lotus Notes and Domino are still used by businesses that are stuck in a half-migrated state, running legacy applications indefinitely. HCL’s message rings a bell for IT groups in all these companies.

Now What: Don’t expect support for outdated versions of IBM Lotus Notes and Domino in the future. It’s high time to upgrade or finally retire your IBM Domino environment.

IBM Notes/Domino end of support

How long will IBM Lotus Notes be supported?

HCL removed IBM Notes and Domino v9 and v10 from HCL FlexNet (their software download site) on December 1, 2022. Furthermore, you won’t receive any support for these versions as of June 1, 2024. (Domino and Notes v9.0.x and v10.0.x: End of Marketing Effective December 1, 2022, End of Support Effective June 1, 2024)

If you are still using these versions, not to mention versions of IBM Lotus Notes and Domino that are 10 or more years old, HCL invites you to upgrade now.

Never-ending IBM Domino decommissioning

We all know that Lotus Notes applications have proven to be sticky – they often outlive the maintenance contracts for the Domino platform and quietly continue their afterlife on 10-plus-year-old versions of Notes and Domino many years after the platform retirement has been “officially completed.”

As one Reddit user puts it on never-ending Lotus Notes Domino decommissioning:

“We’ve been decommissioning it for about 9 years now. We just keep passing it from business unit to business unit.”

Nine years and counting for one-off application decommissioning? Those apps are not just sticky – there must be some kind of extra strong, long-lasting magic glue keeping Lotus Notes apps in use!

So if you think your company has migrated off Lotus Notes and Domino, let us ask you once again: Are you sure?

Is your company one of those that have officially retired Lotus Notes and Domino but, in reality, have some departments that are still reliant on a number of Domino applications that have never been actually retired? If nothing else, those apps often serve as read-only archives of historical data, running on outdated versions of IBM Domino.

HCL Domino future

HCL points out that upgrading to the latest version of HCL Domino is simple and fast. There are many benefits to upgrading, including support for the current versions of operating systems, regular security and feature updates, self-healing capabilities, more options for developers, multi-platform deployment, cloud-native capabilities, and future enhancements.

Does IBM still support Lotus Notes? No, but that doesn’t mean Lotus Notes (now HCL Notes and HCL Domino) is going away.

The company is doing its best to reengage old customers and reactivate their contracts. The forthcoming Domino version, called Danube, promises better-looking apps with a quick face-lift of the ancient user interface. The idea behind “Project Restyle” is to make existing applications appear more modern with minimal effort.

Why HCL Domino is Key to Your Digital Transformation

On the other hand, companies are reluctant to keep upgrading on an annual basis if they are still dependent on the Notes client with classic Lotus Notes applications on it. Who wants to upgrade the thick desktop client frequently? So, when a company decides to follow HCL’s plan of annual releases, it may be wiser to get rid of the Notes client first. This is particularly true for businesses that intend to use the new low-code tool called Domino Leap (formerly Domino Volt) for browser-based Domino apps.

Although many alternatives to Lotus Notes and Domino exist, the option to simply upgrade to the latest version should be seriously considered.

What will determine the future of the platform is the ability of HCL to convince companies to really invest in the platform again, not upgrade to the latest versions of Domino just to keep running their legacy Notes applications.

End of life for IBM Lotus Notes and Domino

Let’s just say at this point that inertia is one of the strongest forces against IT modernization. But it also appears to be a growing security risk. No support means no security patches, no code fixes, no compatibility with some future OS capabilities, and no technical assistance. Which CIO is willing to risk their company’s reputation and entire career by ignoring all these factors?

End of support means end of life for old IBM-branded versions of Lotus Notes and Domino.

It’s time to commit. Decide what to do with your existing IBM Domino infrastructure and databases: upgrade or finally retire your IBM Domino environment. Just don’t stay in a half-migrated deadlock.

How to retire Lotus Notes and Domino applications

There is another risk area that shouldn’t be neglected either: NSF archives or backups.

Even if your Domino servers have been decommissioned, does your company still possess proprietary Domino databases with inactive historical data? Do these NSF files contain sensitive or personal data? Who is supposed to access the data and how often? How long does it take to access and search these databases for e-discovery?

If you opt for Lotus Notes and Domino migration and platform decommissioning, first take care of all historical data. Analyze your existing application portfolio with decision-support tools.

Extract content out of Notes applications properly, retire applications that are no longer in use, and remove them from the Domino server.

The fact that your data is extracted and all the information fully preserved is going to make all other decisions easier. Now you can rethink your applications, redesign databases, and migrate only active data to the new system.

We’ve developed tools to help you move your content to SharePoint or export to portable archives based on PDF and HTML. With these, you can retire Lotus Notes and Domino while retaining access to all your data, content, and views.

Do you have a specific Notes application decommissioning or data archiving project you would like to discuss with us? Please send us your thoughts, comments or questions.

Like what you read? Don't forget to share this post!

Sign up to our Newsletter.