Wednesday, January 16, 2013

CMIS: Nearly a reality in ECM software

Note 1: In May 2010, the first version of the CMIS standard was liberated by OASIS.

Note 2: In the past few months, several Yerbabuena clients have asked me what our opinion is regarding how #CMIS is going to affect the ECM market, in their businesses, and at a global level.

Note 3: The “#” in #CMIS is…just because. ;)

After searching and searching, I found an article by Stefan Waldhauser which clearly explains why #CMIS rocks. I’ve slightly adapted the notes which he explains in his post.

1. CMIS is the SQL of Content Management.

Not a few people think that CMIS is going to have a similar effect on the ECM market than SQL had on the database market thirty years ago. These days, some people criticize the fact that SQL still isn’t a perfect standard. Even if we agree with that, we can’t deny that the normalization of SQL was enough to guarantee healthy business for thousands of businesses that work with structured data in their applications. So, with that in sight, we don’t believe that #CMIS is going to be 100% perfect as a norm, but as long as it’s a reference, it’s enough to create a significant impact on those businesses which work with a great deal of unstructured data.

2. CMIS is not a standard.

Two years ago, some questions were asked related to the adoption of #CMIS in the standard products of various suppliers of multi-nationals. Some critics said that the software giants were not up to the task of making their products friendlier towards the competition. I agree that suppliers don’t particularly like it when their clients go to the competition; but, on the other hand, having a STANDARD #CMIS-back-end will allow us to focus on providing value to Enterprise Content Management systems – just as, for example, we do here at Yerbabuena with Athento.

That said, the big players have to accept (and they do accept) that the point of no return has passed with the launch of version 1.0 of #CMIS. Six months after the launch of the initial version of this norm, the market leaders – IBM, Microsoft, OpenText, Nuxeo, Yerbabuena and Alfresco (among other) have already launched the versions of their systems which support CMIS.

3. Clients adore #CMIS. :)

Two years ago, a survey was carried out among a group of AIIM members, with the following results:

  • 15% of them acknowledged that CMIS would be an important factor in deciding on an ECM in the future. 
  • Twelve months later, in a survey conducted by Generis (, 77% of participants knew/had heard of CMIS. 
  • 42% of participants acknowledged that this norm would be a key factor in choosing their ECM projects in 2011.

Even if this survey isn’t a representative survey, these figures are very promising and they make us look to the future of the adoption of #CMIS among businesses in a positive way.

4. Not being “married to” your ECM provider

Practically all clients aspire to a vision of CMIS, even if they don’t know it. CMIS helps us to separate the repository of documents from the management layer. Even just a year ago, this was only a vision, but today, thanks to CMIS, this vision is becoming reality in projects. Several weeks ago, we signed an important contract with a company of note. They were looking for an ECM solution for the management of various critical processes; they had evaluated a proprietary system provided by a leading supplier (I won’t $ay who they are); but, in the end, they went for our solution – and the reasons why they chose us were the following:

1. Application developed in open code; 
2. Proximity of the supplier; 
3. And we supported CMIS.

I hope that this tendency becomes the theme for projects in 2013, for those Document Management projects in Yerbabuena. ;)

5. With #CMIS, ECM infrastructure will become a product.

Thanks to CMIS resolving the back end of ECM applications for ECM suppliers, more attention can be paid to more and better development of value-added layers for business. This is what we’ve been doing in Yerbabuena for more than two years, “forgetting” the back-end side of applications and thinking about the value generated for our clients. It’s what has allowed us to launch applications that are as interesting as the first mobile client based on #CMIS, flat management systems, or developing the first intelligent OCR on the market.

6. Applications based on CMIS will become the differentiating element.

The year 2010 was the year in which the most prominent ECM brands incorporated CMIS into their products. We hope that, in 2013, these businesses demand that their Document Management Systems suppliers give them systems that support CMIS.

 7. CMIS 1.0 was just the beginning.

Critics of the current version of #CMIS talk about the limitations that CMIS has at this moment, even though they’re certain that CMIS v1.0 is just the beginning. Last year, CMIS 1.1 began its public review draft state.

8. What we are hoping for...

Current implementations of CMIS in the most common ECM platforms have brought only limited possibilities. Actions as “create a document” and “save a document” are some of the currently possibilities they give us, but we are expecting to get the real power of CMIS implementation that will make us able to do awesome things. We are not satisfied with only method definitions.

Update: There's a CMIS book just recently published:
Authors include Jay Brown from IBM and Jeff Potts from Alfresco and Florian Müller the Chair of Apache Chemistry, from SAP.

Popular posts:
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  1. Yet more reality; Now there is even a book published on this subject from Manning Publications.
    'CMIS and Apache Chemistry in Action' 2013

  2. Thanks Jay, appreciate your feedback as a CMIS expert from IBM.


  3. I've updated the post with a link to the book.

  4. Thanks for the reference! ... And Florian Müller the Chair of Apache Chemistry (also from SAP) :)