CMIS – Content Management Interoperability Services

I am excited to (finally) say that EMC, IBM and Microsoft have announced the creation of a jointly developed interface specification called Content Management Interoperability Services, or CMIS. This is important news for the industry as CMIS uses web services to provide greater interoperability across multiple Enterprise Content Management (ECM) repositories.

The current draft specification will be submitted to OASIS and managed by technical committee to guide it toward finalization as a standard.

I said “finally” above because it’s been over two years since I first talked about ECM standards, admittedly (and out of legal obligation) at a high-level–followed up one year ago, here. So, finally, all can become clear…! :-)

In preparation for today’s announcement, I had the opportunity to interview Kyle McNabb, Principal Analyst and Research Director at Forrester Research, to share his thoughts on the announcement. You can listen to Kyle’s perspectives as I ask him the following questions:

  • Why is CMIS needed?
  • Why does it matter who is involved in CMIS?
  • Why is CMIS a step in the right direction?
  • What will be the near-term impact of CMIS on the market?
  • What will be the impact of CMIS to the industry as whole, including ISVs as well as organizations at the enterprise or department levels?
  • What can enterprises expect in the future and how CMIS will help them over the long haul?

CMIS enables interoperable content applications

One of the impacts Kyle sees as a result of CMIS particularly resonates with me: separation of content repositories from content-centric applications in a manner similar to how SQL standardization enabled separation of the relational database from data-centric applications. Entirely new classes of applications (e.g. ERP) emerged with the arrival of SQL, and I’m optimistic about the same kind of potential emergence with the announcement of CMIS.

Frankly, I agree with Kyle’s pragmatic assessment of expectation and timeline. I also believe it will take time before we see new classes of content-centric applications emerge, but CMIS is, in my opinion, a step in the right direction.

As with any significant industry announcement, I expect to see plenty of press coverage by those companies involved, by analysts, etc. I’m also looking forward to what my EMC colleagues have to say about CMIS (e.g. Cornelia Davis, Andrew Chapman, Dave Graham, Len Devanna, Chuck Hollis, and Mark Lewis).

I encourage you to learn more about CMIS on the EMC Developer Network. For example, you can download the complete set of WSDL/XSD documents for the SOAP binding as well as schemas and example XML documents for the REST binding. You can also download a whitepaper that details technology concepts and business considerations involved with CMIS.

This first post on CMIS is intended to set the stage for deeper conversations about the specification, its domain model, its service model, and what its impact can become. So, if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment here or otherwise join the conversation.

Update (today):
(1) Chuck Hollis has posted his thoughts on why CMIS is not JAS (just another standard). Good reading.
(2) Andrew Chapman has posted his thoughts (er, introduced a new word) on potential SharePoint de-silofication driven by CMIS. Another good read.

Update (9/12/2008):
(1) OASIS Proposed Charter for CMIS TC
(2) Mark Lewis addresses commoditization questions raised by CMIS.

Update (9/14/2008): OASIS coverage of CMIS news

Update (5/4/2010):
(1) OASIS CMIS 1.0 is approved as a standard.
(2) Approved errata has been incorporated on 11/4/2011.