9 Dec 2008

CMIS - The much needed standard

Back in 2005, it was during one of my training sessions for Documentum that I first came across this idea and wondered why vendors could not agree to a common standard for content access.

On a training slide, I had referred to DQL as a standard query language for Documentum repositories akin to SQL for databases. Thats was when some smart guy put his hand up and raised the query - "So is DQL too an accepted standard like SQL ?"

There were two reasons that the enormity of the problem didn't dawn on me then - My primary exposure to a Enterprise Content Management(ECM) system then was Documentum & I hardly knew more about say Filenet or Sharepoint. Secondly, coming from a J2EE mindset, I hadn't yet started thinking about ECM systems in the way one starts thinking about databases. But over the years as I worked on projects, I could sense that there was a pressing need for a standard or atleast a standard interface between these systems.

Recently - after reading about the CMIS (Content Management Interoperability Services) standard for ECM systems, I feel that query raised back in 2005 has been partially answered.

For starters, CMIS is a proposed services standard that will enable information sharing amongst disparate content repositories. Co-drafted by EMC, IBM & Microsoft, it is designed to work well with existing architectures for various ECM systems. At the very least, it will enable content access (read/write) in a standard way.

Considering the current lean towards loosely coupled service interfaces, it should come as no surprise that there will be a heavy emphasis on web services & REST based interaction patterns in the final CMIS standard. More details on CMIS and links to proposed implementations can be found here.

I wonder how security and other aspects will be taken care of - considering the disparity in implementations. Yet let us hope it goes forward and atleast achieves what JDBC did for databases. That will be the first step towards achieving true ECM interoperability.


  1. True....Many of us ECM enthusiasts would have a better life, if we have an Interoperability Service - a common language to communicate with any ECM System

  2. I was under the impression that the CMIS specification is at a broader level. Anyway nice overview. I just read the draft at the OASIS site though couldnt make out much of it.

  3. Nice summary of what CMIS can do...I would like to explore CMIS more after reading your blog.