Vendor Support for CMIS

As I discussed yesterday, I’ve been waiting a long time for the Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) standard.  There is still a fair amount of excitement out there as more people join the conversation.  I’m still excited, but the excitement is beginning to be tempered by reality.

There are two primary factors to standard adoption:

  • Is the standard technically sound?  It has to actually solve the stated problem.  It is okay if a standard is limited in functionality in initial drafts as long as it evolves to accomplish everything required.  At the same time, it must be easy enough to use.  These are not small technical challenges.
  • Is there vendor support?  Let’s face it, if the vendors don’t support it, then it will fail.  The JSR-170 and JSR-283 standards are perfect examples.  They aren’t supported by a critical mass of vendors.  The reasons range from the technical (we work in Java), to the philosophical (it is a bad standard, let’s focus elsewhere), and to the lazy (nobody cares so let’s ignore it).

Customers are important, but it takes a large mass of them to force the vendors to act.  I would qualify them as a secondary factor.  While I digest the technical aspects, take a look at the Vendor Support factor.

How Many Vendors Can Change a Light Bulb?

If you ask that question at an AIIM seminar, the answer is simple, The one that built the lamp.  That answer won’t work for the interoperable SOA world that we are trying to build.  The answer needs to be like it is now with lamps, anyone with the correct wattage.

The problem with that answer is that it is too big to be a realistic starting point.  If we need every vendor to support CMIS out of the gate in order to be effective, then we are doomed.  Luckily for us, we don’t need that level of support.  What we need is a critical mass of ECM platform vendors and Content Rich Application including CEVAs providers.

The number of platform vendors required depends more on the customer base of the supporting products than a raw corporation count.  Microsoft provides more weight than Alfresco.  Open Text gets full credit if they only have one of their products support the standard.  While they may get killed in a sales competition, it is the PERCEPTION of adoption and support that is important.

This is where the application vendors step into play.  Many develop an application with either their own back-end or built on-top of an existing application.  Sometimes they write multiple versions to support multiple ECM platforms.  If they perceive support for CMIS among the platform providers, the application leaders will invest the time and money to change their application to connect through a CMIS interface.

This will reward the ECM platform providers by enabling the sales of the Content Rich Applications and CEVAs to drive sales of their platform.  The lagging platform vendors will see the money being lost and implement support for the standard, sell-out quick, or fade away.

The leaders for successful adoption of CMIS need to be the ECM Platform vendors.

Will the Leaders Please Step Forward

I figure we need a 75% seat rate, existing and growth, for a locked-in success of CMIS.  50% would be a challenge.  There are scenarios that throw those numbers off, but I’ll get to those in a minute.

If we look at the list for CMIS, we are already there.  Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy.  The JSR standards had that level of “support”.  We need to measure support by actual released product and public, ongoing, commitment to CMIS in the Vision of each company.  We need to judge the vendors by their actions over the next six months.  Will they continue to talk about CMIS and will they implement a supported interface layer?  That is the criteria, not press releases and web sites.

The one thing that could speed things up is if some open source vendors implement the standard and the user community responds.  The ECM platform vendors will then scramble to draw even.  Alfresco has started down that path, but more on that in another post.

Next, I’ll look at the depth of initial vendor support and see if we can guess who the leaders might be for CMIS down the road.

4 thoughts on “Vendor Support for CMIS

  1. Hi !
    I am part of the press agency of Nuxeo and I though you might be interested in the reaction of Eric Barroca,
    Nuxeo Executive VP, Operations regarding the CMIS standard:

    We are warmly welcoming the inception of this future standard and the early feedbacks we are getting from our customers are also very positive. The perspectives are exciting. This is offering a practical solution to real-world and to the endemic Babel-Tower syndroma of heterogeneous information systems… which they all are !
    With the growing spread of ECM platforms and related software (search, ERP integration, etc.) in organisations, the interoperability problem and the isolation of content has become a critical issue that our customers are facing. CMIS might be a good answer to this.
    Technically, CMIS leverages proven and state-of-the-art standards (ATOMPub, HTTP, etc.) and patterns (REST, SOA), already adopted and heavily leveraged in Nuxeo’s open source ECM platform.

    Our experience of REST pattern for ECM services (through our Nuxeo WebEngine component) and service orientation (Nuxeo Platform has been using OSGi since 3 years as its core) could bring some nice hints to the creation of version 1.0 of this specifications and therefore we see the choice of the OASIS Group as an umbrella as a good news, given that the work group opens up to other actors. Moreover, Nuxeo could also work and contribute its significant experience to the yet out-of- scope fields such as RM and DAM.

    Our R&D squad is already studying the draft and will add the implementation of CMIS into the roadmap our Nuxeo Platform. Beta support should be able before the end of october. Thanks to the power of Nuxeo WebEngine to implement REST-based protocols, the implementation will be straightforward and will also deliver a working UI on top of it.

    “As an open source software vendor, Nuxeo’s value proposition relies on the widest possible integration of open standards. This lies at the heart of our vision for an ECM platform, designed to fuel the development of an ecosystem (partners, OEM, resellers,…). This is also key in the decision process of our customers. That’s why we’re very keen to adopt the CMIS standard : the interoperability path it provides will allow customers to base their technology and solutions choice on their users needs and expectations”, adds Stefane Fermigier.

    In the future if you are interested in receiving more news from Nuxeo, it would be great if you could give me your email address.



  2. Thanks for the information. I’ll be addressing different vendor reactions shortly. The support by companies like Nuxeo will help overall adoption.



  3. I find it interesting the Nuxeo resorts to a PR agency for its support (e.g. a similar comment by Ed was left over at the ECM Stuff blog). As I said there: “Nuxeo should consider joining the OASIS CMIS TC, since they haven’t been formally involved in CMIS thus far.”


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