CMIS: Boom Or Bust?

CMIS: Boom Or Bust?

Summary: Some of you may have heard about the joint announcement from EMC, IBM, and Microsoft about the creation of Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS). The purpose of this proposed new standard?


Some of you may have heard about the joint announcement from EMC, IBM, and Microsoft about the creation of Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS). The purpose of this proposed new standard? To create a vendor-agnostic way of accessing the data in content management systems from multiple vendors. In other words: Remember when SQL became a standard for accessing databases? This is the content management system equivalent.

Of course, this could be enormously attractive, making it much easier to develop applications that sit on top of those repositories. Most enterprises have multiple content management systems in place - either due to diverse needs of various businesses, size of the company, or just plain lack of content management vision. Making that content more easily accessible via protocols such as SOAP could be a major win for these enterprises.

For instance, persuasive content - used to influence customer behavior - frequently lives in multiple databases, making it more difficult for organizations to create consistent experiences across multiple channels. CMIS could enable applications to easily access previously siloed content in order enhance those experiences. CMIS could also allow for a proliferation of tools - authoring, reporting, etc. - to work with a variety of ECM systems; think of all the SQL-compliant tools out there - this would be the equivalent. And it could potentially be huge for SharePoint users, who are not always happy with the tools Microsoft provides to access SharePoint content and would like to better leverage that content.

So why am I skeptical? Well, as a former practitioner, I’ve seen too many standards fail to catch fire (most recently JSR-170, which rarely gets mentioned as a must-have by Forrester clients). Standards are kind of like political candidates: you hope they’ll live up to their initial promise and idealism, but you should prepare for the reality and inevitable letdown of their day-to-day existence.

Luckily, major players in the industry have already pledged support for CMIS: in addition to the above, the list includes Oracle, Open Text, Alfresco, and SAP. But the burden will be on those vendors to demonstrate the power of the CMIS standard by actually supporting it and providing (either themselves or in conjunction with partners) compelling applications which take advantage standard, which will further create demand for CMIS-compliant applications and repositories, which will encourage vendors to create more applications, which will encourage....well, you get the idea. Until then, CMIS remains a well-intentioned concept that has the potential to be great, but could also turn into yet another standards-based pipe dream.

Topics: Browser, Enterprise Software, Software

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  • Content Management

    As CIO, I'm always looking for ways to help my team, business teams, and ad hoc measures of various vendors, contractors and internal team members. A book that is required reading is "I.T. WARS: Managing the Business-Technology Weave in the New Millennium." It has a great chapter on content management and its implementation. That chapter is great if you?re struggling with your organization?s definition of CM ? particularly if ?business? is having a difficult grasp of it ? and the chapter helps any organization to the proper understanding and sizing of it.

    We keep a few copies kicking around - it would be a bit much to expect outside agencies to purchase it on our say-so. But, particularly when entertaining bids for projects and in the face of challenging change, we ask potential solutions partners to review relevant parts of the book, and it ensures that these agencies understand our values and practices.

    The author, David Scott, has an interview here that is a great exposure:

    The book came to us as a tip from one of our interns who attended a course at University of Wisconsin, where the book is in use; I like to pass along things that work, in the hope that good ideas continue to make their way to me. I hope you can make use of this info?
  • RE: CMIS: Boom Or Bust?

    Stephen -

    Unlike all the other content management standards that I have participated in, there are already implementations from the existing participants. In August, IBM, EMC, Oracle, SAP, OpenText, and my company Alfresco, met at Microsoft's offices for an interoperability session to make sure it works. And yes! It works! Microsoft, SAP and Oracle/BEA provided client CMIS software through portals that communicated with repositories from EMC, Microsoft, OpenText and Alfresco.

    With the participation of the largest vendors and already working prototypes of the proposed specification, I have every confidence that this will become a successful standard. We are far enough along at this point that no CMS vendor dare *not* to implement CMIS when it becomes a standard. The scenario that we demonstrated in Redmond is already a use case that enterprise customers are demanding.

    John Newton
    CTO - Alfresco
  • It depends on us

    Considering the big names on the list above, I think there is a real chance for CMIS to live. And of course in these days where services become a fundamental part of content repositories, it is hard to overlook hope-to-be standards like this.
    As new players in this field, we chose to implement CMIS too.