IBM Websphere Commerce: What Next?

IBM recently sold a portfolio of software products, including IBM Websphere Commerce, to HCL Technologies for $1.8 billion. If you aren’t a customer or user of one of these products, the news may have flown under the radar, as it was lightly reported. If you’re a merchant actively running a commerce program on a version of IBM Websphere, however, the silence was deafening.

By all reports, Websphere customers were given no advance notice of the sale. Likewise, IBM Websphere solution partners were also left to find out via press release. More than a week later, the publicly available information is still scant.

It may turn out that the transition to HCL will be seamless, and the product roadmap for v9, and subsequent versions, won’t skip a beat. However, there are still many questions left unanswered and more than a little uncertainty about what comes next. For the enterprise B2B and consumer brands running a legacy version of Websphere, uncertainty is something that they can’t afford. They have invested heavily both financially and in terms of organizational resources. Many are transacting tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars annually through their ecommerce channels. They have their own roadmaps and initiatives tied to their digital commerce programs. So, uncertainty is not an option.

What Should Websphere Customers Do?

Now would be an excellent time to setup a Strategic Platform Review. Gather stakeholders from the business and IT sides of the organization. Identify a strategic commerce partner, one that has experience with enterprise commerce strategy, platform implementations, and migrations. Then conduct a rapid workshop and analysis to evaluate the most advantageous path forward.

Many Websphere merchants are running legacy instances of Websphere and were already facing end-of-life support for their versions. Now, at a minimum, they’ll need to evaluate if upgrading to v9 fits into their long-term plans, or if another direction is more appropriate to sustain the growth of their digital commerce channels. This could mean a subsequent platform selection process, which includes Websphere in the evaluation process, and potential planning for replatforming, if a site migration is the incumbent outcome.

As digital influences an ever-growing portion of online and offline purchase decisions, these business decisions will have lasting impacts. So, seek out strategic advice, adapt your commerce program as warranted, and prepare for the only inevitably: ongoing change.