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CMIS, A Standard Whose Time has Come

By Laurence Hart posted Jun 16, 2011 11:22 AM

  

For those that aren’t aware, I live for things that make my life easier. In the Content Management space, that usually involves simplifying the work to integrate systems, managing security, and removing migrations (regardless of how lucrative that business may be). As a result, I’ve become a fan of standards and how they apply to interoperability.

This is why I love the Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) standard. Is it perfect? No. Does it need enhancements? Yes. Is it useful now? Definitely. CMIS was designed to be useful with its first release, finalized in 2010. CMIS solves content problems today and is not the lowest common denominator of Content Management functionality.

The real question is this, why does CMIS matter to you?

CMIS is Multi-Purpose

CMIS LogoMulti-purpose? Isn’t that a marketing term that should probably be shot on sight? Perhaps, but it doesn’t make it less true about CMIS. Here are the three basic CMIS Use Cases with examples for each.

  1. Repository-to-Repository (R2R): This is where content repositories talk directly to each other.
    • Migrations: Either all at once or ad-hoc, CMIS can reach out and move content from one repository to another.
    • Publishing: Have multiple systems? Automatic processes can publish and share content behind the scenes.
  2. Application-to-Repository (A2R): This is where an application that uses content is plugged-into a content repository to handle all content services.
    • Manage Collaboration Content: Be it SharePoint, Jive, or some other system, manage content behind the scenes in your System of Record.
    • Component Content Applications: Create one business application, say Correspondence Management, and use any CMIS compliant content repository to manage the content.
  3. Federated Repositories (FR): This is where an application talks to many different repositories while presenting a singular interface to the user.
    • Common client: Have one client to access content from multiple repositories seamlessly. Why migrate if the user doesn’t have to switch between systems?
    • Federated Search: You can use CMIS to provide this functionality without separate interfaces.

There is a lot of usability there. The next question is, what does it mean to me today?

CMIS as a Point-Forward Solution

Nothing is forcing you to use CMIS today. If you have systems that are talking to each other, they can continue to talk to each other. What you need to be doing now is quite simple:

  • Identify Vendors: Has your current Content Management vendor added CMIS support? Do they plan to do so if they haven’t? If they don’t plan to do so, do they care about your business problems or do they just want to lock you into their platform and collect money?
  • Plan for New Development: Planning on new integrations? Look to see if CMIS has the functionality to meet your needs. This will make your entire architecture more flexible and easier to change over time.
  • Reevaluate Migrations: If you can access “inactive” content in a legacy system using CMIS, it is no longer a closed “silo”. Throwing a simple CMIS interface in front of that system may be much more cost effective than a full-blown migration.

The key to remember is that CMIS is a tool to help you solve your Content Management problems. Think of it as a monkey wrench that you can now use instead of a multitude of individual wrenches. Old methods will continue to work, but that is just custom knowledge to maintain.

If you want to know more about CMIS, ask below. You can also check-out the AIIM webinar on CMIS from March 2011.

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