Technology Standards and the Enterprise, Getting Too Much Attention?

I have a bunch of things that I have wanted to talk about on this blog. I am going to be the first to admit, that standards wasn’t really on my radar to write about here. In years past, whenever I got to the standards portions of ECM presentations in years past, I only cared because saying a product met standards meant it might be easier to sell. More recently, I had begun to understand and care, but only enough to pay more attention and think about how it can help my current projects. In the past few weeks, the topic of standards has been showing up all over my radar, and then it hit me. I need to make everyone else care as well.

You would think that with stumbling all over standards, I wouldn’t be concerned. The basic problem is that when I talk to other people in the ECM world, standards never comes up. It is almost irrelevant. Well, standards that are so ingrained that we never talk about them is a great goal, but we are on the other side of the mountain. We have yet to define and implement any standards in such a way that we can take them from granted and do more real work and less scut-work. There are a few reasons for this, one being the shifting of technology. Anyone remember ODMA? I remember when it started making my life easier in the 90s. It isn’t used much anymore because the installation of an ECM client on the client PC has gone the way of the floppy disk.

James McGovern commented on my EMC 2.0 post questioning why standards wasn’t part of the “Vision”. I think the reason is quite simple, standards isn’t sexy and cool in the ECM world yet. If Belagi had come out and made it one of the pillars of the Vision, most of the crowd would have passed out. Standards are enclosed in the SOA efforts of their vision. How do I know? Because the update on EMC’s standards approach was hidden in Cornelia Davis‘s presentation on Web Services. My main take-away? EMC is involved in the standards process. They are part of the expert group for the Java Content Repository 1.0 (JSR-170) and the early draft state of the JCP 2.0 version (JSR-283). Not much of a take-away. It is nice to know that Cornelia, one of their leading technologists, truly cares about standards, but I think the enablement of SOA using Documentum Foundation Services is as close as we are going to get for a few years.

What does this all mean to us now??? Absolutely nothing. Let’s face it, until there is an actual standard that isn’t going to be replaced in a couple of years, how can we expect EMC or any other leading vendor to implement standards? We need an upstart company, or a determined user community, to force the established vendors to implement standards. Until then, I guess I am going to have to start helping draw attention to the need for utilizing standards in the ECM world.

It looks like we are going to have to put the Enterprise into Enterprise Content Management ourselves for the time being. I guess I should be glad that I have access to some excellent developers to do the necessary scut-work for me.

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