We waited with bated breath on what’s happening in April with the IBM/HCL transaction. We have not heard anything official yet and the early indications from both IBM and HCL is that the dust will settle at the end of Q2 2019, when the transition will be official.
While we are waiting to hear from both IBM and HCL, I would like to share my thoughts on what I have seen played out so far from a technology perspective.
The WebSphere Commerce community in general has been subjected to a lot of negative talk and sales play from WCS competitors. All this negativity is detrimental to customers who have invested a lot of money, effort and resources in building fantastic user experiences for their brands. I would like to move away from all that negativity, and talk about the positive effort that the WebSphere development team is pouring into WebSphere Commerce to make the product whole and relevant again for all of us, the WebSphere Commerce Community at large.
There are 3 important initiatives that I have seen over the last 12 months.
- The WC development team has been turning out REST APIs at a dizzying pace to support the microservices initiative to ultimately support Commerce Anywhere. The velocity of these APIs is very impressive and marks a much sharper focus than before. There are literally thousands of APIs that have been released over the last 16 releases of V9 and the goal is to have all of WCS functionalities delivered via APIs by Q2 2019.
With microservices, the applications are no longer tightly-coupled with the platform. Microservices brings value to the business by allowing the front-end to be free from the back-end. Businesses can rapidly improve the user experience at a record speed and let their UI team loose on creating awesome user experiences with the CMS of their choice. Content can be king and evolve at a much faster pace bringing much needed ROI for customers’ investment on their platform.
- The second important initiative came about when Kelly Ryan returned to WebSphere Commerce Development. She championed the OneCommerce initiative to get V9 and IDC to the same code base. Customers will have the freedom of running the application on V9 on-prem or in the cloud or on IDC. This single code base is a welcome sign as it removes much of the confusion around the different versions of WCS. Simplicity is a beautiful concept as it leads to clarity.
- The third important advancement is the new modernized architecture of V9. There are many presentations and blogs out there about the new V9 architecture but I think they are too IT oriented. Business users really don’t like to hear these technical terms such as Dockers and Kubernetes. Their eyes just glaze over when they hear these terms. But they will understand that these technologies can eliminate installation time, i.e. zero-installation with Dockers. They will appreciate a much faster deployment time from days to hours so they can run their marketing campaigns at a much faster pace. They will rejoice at the much improved scalability with Black Friday and Cyber Monday when Kubernetes provides self-healing and auto-scaling infrastructure so the website can handle the traffic their brands demand.
What can we look forward to seeing from WebSphere Commerce?
With an API-driven commerce, customer storefront is no longer tightly-coupled with WCS as a commerce engine. Customers can now augment their applications with AI and machine-learning microservices to deliver a much more sophisticated and personalized customer experience. Think about the possibilities about personalization with weather, style, taste, social engagements and orientation.
I am bullish on the future of WebSphere Commerce, regardless of where it lands. Through many discussions with the WebSphere Commerce team, I feel that there is an earnest effort from the Commerce Development team to fulfill IBM’s promise for a better platform for our customers.
From a business perspective, these enhancements are long overdue and much needed to provide the agility of a modern infrastructure and the fundamentals for a better and richer user experience. Change is painful sometimes but we need to embrace change in order to become a disruptor in the industry. It’s up to us, the practitioners to articulate the technical enhancements and what they mean to the business to get their buy-in.
Like a story of a hero, WebSphere Commerce was met with multiple challenges from a product, direction and ownership perspective. But there is a guide that comes to its rescue and directs it through the hard times. Finally, it emerges as a stronger and much wiser self. This guide is the loyal community of customers and business partners that will support and guide WebSphere Commerce, and together we will become the disruptor once again.
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