Content Management Solutions Interoperability

No, this is not about CMIS, although the topic can be linked together not just through an acronym.

infoexchangeThis is a bit inspired by the recent identity crisis manifested in the “Enterprise Content Management” space, by many esteemed professionals doing their best to define either “content” in itself or more nowadays replacing “Enterprise” with “Easy” within ECM. While these kind of discussions are good and provide at least food for thought, I would like to see how we can go forward.

After a period of effervescence in the mid 2000, looking around to see what kind of solutions and software we have for solving common business problems around content…. I don’t see a significant evolution.

Sure, there’s this “cloud” thing. But we’ve been doing SaaS for a much longer time. And there’s file sharing, that’s indeed cool.

What I do believe is missing today is a roadmap to have inter-operability at the business level. Everybody is tackling the “information silo” problem and, of course, this creates new silos based on brand new shining technology.

When Cloud was born, a lot of people said we need to have cloud inter-operability. To integrate one cloud provide with another. But most of the reasons behind this are technical and even if you related them to business needs, there are always more pressing itches which need to be scratched, so the money and time will go elsewhere.

What does the “business” need is actually a way to be able to scratch quickly and later on to exchange their information with other business areas/departments/systems/you get the idea. I don’t want to sound like a prophet, but I think we’ll see new and new information silos created everyday, much faster than any consolidation can occur. And we should not be afraid of this.

These silos need to inter-operate. This is the actual need. Technically, we have CMIS – for example. But not the technical issue is the main roadblock. It’s the data, with its meaning (context, as it can be referred to). How do you exchange data?

Picture this:

What if, every major ECM system (EMC Documentum, IBM FileNet, Microsoft SharePoint, OpenText XYZ, Alfresco etc.) will come preloaded with a set of predefined, extendable “schema” to exemplify how an “invoice” should be modeled? Or a “drawing”, or a “project plan”, or a “meeting minute”?

What if these schema would be built together by a consortium of all these people implementing solutions for customers (eg: Oasis)?

Imagine what this would do for enabling value driven inter-operability.

Yet Another CM standard

CMIS was submitted to Oasis for becoming an open standard on Content Management Interoperability.

What’s fun, is that almost every single blog / newsfeed I monitor in the Content Management area addressed the subject. It was fun to see my dashboard with the acronym popping up in all sections (i keep it organized by different vendors).

This definitely got the attention of the ECM professionals. I’ll not write too much on it since a lot of bytes are already out there commenting the event.

What I want to point is that this needs the proper amount of luck and environment in order to succeed (unlike JSR 170 and 283).

It needs to be the SQL of Content Management. On one blog entry, Pie noted that the new standard needs support from the vendors in order to make it into the real world. This is essential of course, but another thing is to also be embraced by the application builders as a core CM layer of their architecture.

Declarative support is there (e.g. Microsoft) . At least from the vendors – the first being obviously the standard promoters. But even most of them were giving only the marketing speech (with the notable exception of Alfresco who already has an implementation).

I think this is a great opportunity for the ones building CEVAs as it might reduce their costs on supporting several platforms for their solution. Unfortunately there is a difference between SQL and CMIS 🙂 – databases are well established in IT architectures as foundation technologies for various solutions. Content Management is more seen as a top level application.

It will take time for IT Managers, Solution Architects, CIOs, ISVs and others to look at CM and think of it as middleware (at least, if not infrastructure) in order to start building applications which are independent of the ECM product.