I've found good news for those of you interested in squeezing more value out of unstructured data trapped in content management systems. This year, several major ECM vendors will add support for a new interoperability standard called Content Management Integration Services (CMIS), according to a recent report by Intelligent Enterprise.
Among the platforms Intelligent Enterprise says will add support this year are: Microsoft SharePoint, IBM's FileNet P8 and Content Manager systems, EMC Documentum, Open Text Enterprise Library Services and Open Text ECM 10. Oracle says it will support the standard on its Universal Content Management system, but has not yet announced when.
Alfresco and Drupal already support the CMIS draft specification.
So, why does this matter? As the executive summary published this week explains, right now, these systems are basically silos for unstructured data, which means if you want to access that information, you have to create a custom integration. That can be expensive and time consuming, so, in effect, it limits companies from taking full advantage of the content.
Enterprises aren't happy with this situation. In fact, a survey by InformationWeek Analytics/Intelligent Enterprise showed 59 percent of 276 business IT professionals say that information in their content management systems "could play an expanded role in the enterprise -- if they could be more easily integrated with third-party applications."
The CMIS, an OASIS effort, is essentially a Web services interface specification. It should make life easier for both customers and vendors, according to a November Linux World article, by supporting access to content stored in ECM repositories without custom code. It will also reduce the number of connectors software vendors will have to build and support, according to Kathleen Reidy, a 451 Group analyst quoted in the Linux World article.
It also will make it easier for enterprises to link different EMC systems, which right now are largely proprietary and don't play well with other systems.
In addition, this specification could open the potential for enterprise mashups, since it simplifies pulling information from multiple repositories, and simplify application development by providing common Web services and interfaces, according to the Wikipedia entry on CMIS.
The Intelligent Enterprise report did, however, include a caveat: It's possible that a repository can be technically compliant with the standard, and yet not support all the functions of the standard. Obviously, this "could limit the utility of CMIS-enabled applications," the report states.
The comment period for the standard ended last month, and the OASIS CMIS technical committee is reviewing those contents. Approval for the standard is expected sometime this year.
If you're unfamiliar with the standard, you can read the Intelligent Enterprise executive summary, but I recommend skipping ahead to the full report, called "Silo to Gold Mine: What CMIS Can (and Can't) Do for ECM Integration." It's available for free download, and it's only 11 pages.
You can also find links to further resources on the CMIS technical committee's site.