8 Things You Need to Know about the CMIS Standard
Laurence Hart

By: Laurence Hart on April 25th, 2010

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8 Things You Need to Know about the CMIS Standard

Enterprise Content Management (ECM)

The Content Management Interoperability Standard (CMIS), or the SQL-ization of content repositories, made a big splash at AIIM On Demand. My personal opinion is that CMIS will have an enormous impact on the consumerization of ECM. As a member of the AIIM iECM committee and an outspoken advocate for the CMIS standard, I wanted to share the eight things you need to know about it:

  1. CMIS is A Content Management Domain Model with Protocol Bindings.

    CMIS is not a new interface in your content repository. At its core, it is a Content Domain Model. It defines a way to abstract the structure of any content repository into a common framework. On top of that, two different protocol binding have been defined to allow applications to interact with the underlying domain model. The two initial bindings are the Web Services and Restful AtomPub bindings. As new technologies are developed, new binding can be developed, extending the power of CMIS in the years to come.

  2. CMIS Simplifies Repository to Repository Communication.

    This is one of the first ways to use CMIS that people think of when they hear "Interoperability." In this scenario, two or more repositories talk directly to each other. This is an extremely powerful use case as it permits the easy publication of content from one repository to another or the move from an active repository to an archived or records repository.

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  3. CMIS Enables Application to Repository Communication.

    The second fundamental user case is Application to Repository. This scenario is a boon to application developers. Content Applications can now be written in a content repository independent manner, allowing developers to focus on the user experience and business problems and not with learning the API for every vendor. Imagine being able to use your favorite collaboration or web management tool and having your content managed in your content repository, without having to write an integration. We already see some traction out there as multiple vendors have developed CMIS-based user interfaces for the browser and the iPhone/iPad.

  4. CMIS Enables Federation.

    The third use case is Federation. This is a powerful capability that will allow users to work with multiple repositories from a single interface. This can provide an inexpensive way to implement a federated search solution or to deploy an interface allowing users to interact with content from both a live repository and a legacy repository.

  5. CMIS is Technology Neutral.

    There are no restrictions on the technology platform. The bindings can be accessed from .Net, Java, PHP, Flex, or any other number of technology platforms. Application developers no longer have to base architectural decisions on the APIs of their given content management platform.

  6. CMIS is Vendor Supported.

    This had been the most important aspect in the development of the CMIS standard. The vendors are behind it, and they are showing their support through actions. Microsoft has announced support for CMIS for SharePoint 2010 in June, one month after the release of both the standard and SharePoint 2010. Alfresco, EMC, eXo, IBM, and Nuxeo have all made repositories available to the AIIM iECM Committee to build a reference application for CMIS that is open to the public. To top it off, there are many more vendors that have already made early implementations of their CMIS interfaces available for people to test and try out.

  7. CMIS is Supported by the Open Source Community.

    The open-source vendors have been working together on an implementation, Apache Chemistry, which will enable all JCR-compliant vendors to support CMIS. This will allow users of the repositories to leverage CMIS without the need to develop the interfaces directly.

  8. CMIS is Just Getting Started.

    The final release of CMIS 1.0 is imminent. For CMIS to succeed from here, it is important to not rest on our laurels. While CMIS provides core functionality, there is more needed. Records Management, improved custom metadata model support, semantic capabilities, and new bindings (WebDAV and/or JSON?) are among the capabilities that need to be added to strengthen the CMIS standard. Our ability as a community to work together and evolve CMIS to keep up with the ever-changing environment is what will make the difference between CMIS being a universally useful standard and just another footnote in the ECM world.


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About Laurence Hart

Laurence Hart is currently serving as a director at TeraThink. He's been an Information Professional for over two decades and has worked with Alfresco, Documentum, SharePoint, Box, Sitecore, and many other solutions. He has led a wide-range of efforts, including digital transformation, records management, BPM, and collaboration for the commercial, non-profit, and public sectors.