CMIS – Yet another acronym or more than that?

Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) is a new standard that (from the spec)

… will define a domain model and set of bindings, such as Web Service and REST/Atom that can be used by applications to work with one or more Content Management repositories/systems.

This spec  will soon be submitted to OASIS. It has participation from IBM, EMC, Microsoft, Open Text, Oracle, SAP and Open Source Alfresco.

Around the time when JSR 170 was released, I had written that many products have proprietary repositories and it might not be trivial for them to re-architect those to be JCR compliant. This seems to be an important consideration of this spec and thus CMIS is designed to be an abstraction over existing systems. So it does not require the products to make any major changes to their  architecture. It does not even try to make it mandatory to expose ALL features via CMIS.

There is also a recognition of the fact that many organizations indeed have multiple ECM systems and it is going to remain like that. So it might not be possible for everyone to consider migration and/or consolidation to a common repository.

Above all, it has support from Microsoft. And with a focus on REST, HTTP, ATOM it has that distinct feel of web 2.0, content mashups and so on.

So what does it mean for JCR? I’d like to believe what Kas Thomas has written on CMS Watch based on his interaction with David Nuescheler. In fact, the first ever draft implementation of CMIS is based on a JCR (Alfresco)! However, buyers of new ECM systems will now be less enthusiastic about the “support for JSR 170 tick mark” in their RFPs and that will mean reduced pressure on product vendors to support the JCR standard.

Also there is something that i’m trying to figure out and i’m hoping the experts can point me to something. All the diagrams, including the one here show how this spec aims to improve interoperability among different ECM systems by having an application that can access any CMS. However, doesn’t interoperability also mean interaction between the participating CMSs as well – for example, if CMIS enabled EMC Documentum and FileNet are involved and i check out a document in Documentum, the FileNet users will also see that document checked out. Or does this use case not make any sense? We have seen a lot of scenarios where a customer has multiple ECM systems and they want this ability via a common interface.

6 thoughts on “CMIS – Yet another acronym or more than that?”

  1. I don’t think the Use Case makes sense that content is stored in two repositories. I think the Use Cases which are being focussed on are more here different items of content interact within the context of a Business Process yet the content is stored in different locations, e.g. a Purchase 2 Pay process with Purchase Orders in one system and Contracts in another…perhaps a bad example but hopefully you get the idea.

    However I do think we need to do more thinking around this and ensure that this initiative is seen to benefit the business and not just the techies!

  2. Lee,
    Thanks for dropping by. I think your example is a good one.

    Here is a live example where the use case i described will make sense. A client has an ECM “A” that has been implemented across multiple LOBs and user groups. They want to undertake a 3 year initiative to migrate to ECM “B”. Because of various factors, a big bang approach is not that they will follow and will slowly migrate from A to B. During this transition phase, there will be users of B who will need to collaborate with users on A and vice versa. If we have to implement such a scenario, we’ll possibly need much more than what is available in CMIS currently. I will possibly expand this more in a future post.

  3. It’s worth noting that Alfresco (who, along with OpenText, Oracle and SAP, also participated in the CMIS standards body) is about to release the first implementation of the CMIS spec.
    It will be interesting to see how quickly the traditional vendors are able to surface these capabilities in their offerings.

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