Momentum builds for open content management standard

A proposed standard meant to help content management systems communicate with each other has steady momentum, and an initial version could be finalized early next year.

Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) was first announced in September 2008. It outlines a standardized Web services interface for sharing content across multiple CMS (content management system) platforms.

Organizations face difficulties when integrating information from various content repositories, because specialized connectors typically have been required for each system. Both customers and vendors stand to gain from CMIS.

It should cut the amount of one-off integrations and custom development work end-users currently must do, and in addition, software vendors won't have to build and support a wide range of connectors, said 451 Group analyst Kathleen Reidy via e-mail.

The specification, which is being developed under the auspices of standards body OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), is supported by the content management industry's biggest players, including EMC, Adobe, Microsoft, Open Text, IBM and SAP.

Open-source CMS vendor Alfresco is also a backer. The company said on Monday that it has included support in the 3.2 version of its platform for CMIS 1.0, which is now in a public review period scheduled to end Dec. 22. CMIS's inclusion in Alfresco 3.2 will enable users to get a hands-on look during the review period, the company said.

CMIS 1.0 is on track to be finalized within the first few months of 2010, according to a recent blog post by Ethan Gur-esh, a Microsoft program manager.

Despite the high-profile vendors involved, it's not clear how many end-users are aware of CMIS. A study released recently by research firm AIIM said it had "gained traction" among 15% of the organizations surveyed.

But even that percentage is "remarkably high" given that CMIS isn't even a standard yet, CMS Watch analyst Alan-Pelz Sharpe said in a blog post at the time.

"CMIS has good momentum and has the right set of vendors backing it," the 451 Group's Reidy said. "It will take a while for the standard, once ratified, to show up in actual, commercially supported, shipping versions of most ECM products though, just due to the release cycles of these products. But it does look like it will happen, as most have stated support and have support for the current spec in developer-only downloads and so forth."

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