CMIS – Why Bother?

CMIS proponent/contributor Laurence Hart (aka @piewords) picked up on the latest debate on whether or not JCR will die at the hands of CMIS.  There are a number of interesting points from the blog over the article in CMS Wire – not the least of which is that degenerative disease is less harsh than zombification – I won’t take time to argue that disturbing point but I do want to reiterate a few points on why or rather when you should be concerned with CMIS.

Despite the obvious advantage of a language neutral spec to the alternative, there is no guarantee that CMIS will be any more successful than its predecessors. I still maintain that there is no competitive advantage, only parity in supporting CMIS. Therefore mainline vendors may be inclined to keep their noses in it but they will not drive adoption. Smaller or open source ECM vendors will promote CMIS because it removes differentiation, leveling the playing field to a narrow set of capabilities and forcing the decision to focus on price.

Someone must lead the charge and that must be the consumers of the service. Those consumers are applications made from someone other than the ECM vendors themselves. Mobility is a great driver here. Application developers, even when designing for a specific backend can benefit from the debates that were part of the specifications development on what is and is not essential to content transactions. The fact that the resulting application is made more flexible is really a bonus. Similarly  the peer-to-peer marshalling of content between cloud application services also as a similar benefit on a different scale. The “I” for interoperability in this case is far more important than the “M”.

Bottom lne if you are preparing an RFP for content technology, CMIS is certainly worth mentioning but is not a key component to the decision criteria. At least not yet anyway. Architects and developers however should absolutely consider it even if there is no direct requirement as they can benefit from the design and modeling work whether they implement the entire interface or not.

7 thoughts on “CMIS – Why Bother?

  1. I wouldn’t say CMIS is not a key component of your RFP. It does depend on what you’re plans are and what you use. We’re working with customers over here in the UK who will mandate CMIS as the interoperability between one of the apps we are pushing and the Content Management System is through a CMIS layer. The app we are putting in is considered more strategic than the supporting platform.

  2. There are certainly cases where forward thinking clients guided by likeminded consultants elevate the importance of the specification. That is exactly the kind of adoption driving I am speaking of. You are however willing to take on the necessary “gap bridging” necessary to make it work on the other side of the interface.

    From another angle, non-ECM COTS application demand for the spec has not reached a critical mass that would make lack of CMIS support a disqualifier for that component. For example – you wouldn’t throw out a BPM vendor that needed to integrate to a CMS because it didn’t support the consumer side of CMIS OOTB. (apologies for the acronyms)

  3. Interesing post Lee.

    As regarding “leading the charge”, I think that CMIS will pave the way for an ECM Apps marketplace (analogous to iPhone/Android Apps) whereby customers can download ECM Apps (CMIS-enabled) that they can install into their ECM solutions to plug any functionality gaps. In this respect, I think ECM vendors will be increasingly expected to support CMIS. Indeed most of the main ECM vendors now do support CMIS or will do so very soon in the next release of their product.

    Best regards,


  4. The ECM App marketplace has many dependencies…One of those is Cloud hosted services. No major ECM vendor, with the possible exception of Microsoft, has a cloud presence for services. SalesForce is an application with ECM vectors which is cloud hosted but I have not seen business consumers rushing to SalesForce as an ECM play. FaceBook could be an ECM platform…It has scale, a small measure of minimal library services, a queueing system of sorts, and a voting mechanism for collaboration. Anyone willing to take a chance on FaceBook as an ECM play? ;>)

  5. FB as ECM – actually I have debated this point with marko before – every social app has cm features.

    what do we call it – Faceumentum?

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