The same day that the Large Hadron Collider starts unlocking the mysteries of the universe at CERN in Geneva, the enterprise content management community has decided to explore what would happen if we could all interoperate between each of our respective systems and content could be tapped into with a common set of services. For the ECM industry, this day could prove to be just as momentous. EMC, IBM and Microsoft just announced a new content service interface along with Alfresco, OpenText, Oracle and SAP. The result could unlock the huge potential of the content contained within enterprises and unleash its power for discovery, customer service and knowledge sharing in the same way that databases have become the backbone of many businesses. On this occasion, we are releasing our CMIS implementation of this specification as open source.
The Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) promises to become the SQL for Content Management. There have been previous attempts to create a universal standard for ECM, but none of them (ODMA, DMA, JCR) got further than a few vendors supporting it. The difference now is that the largest vendors, IBM, Microsoft and EMC have been joined by Alfresco, OpenText, Oracle and SAP to not just endorse this specification, but actually create working versions of the protocol. There is real wood behind the arrow, not just a lot of talk. With the results of an interoperability session, this group of companies will submit this specification for standardization by OASIS.
The only other parallel that I can think of for this type of industry collaboration is when the database industry decided to standardize SQL and its language bindings in the early 1990s. Bitter rivals realized that a bigger pie was in everyone's interest and would encourage greater application development and enterprise adoption. This collaboration resulted in a huge growth of the database industry, the creation of the client-server industry yielding SAP, Siebel, Documentum and Business Objects, and within a few years, the creation of the web and web applications. If the resulting standard creates even a fraction of this success, it can have a significant impact on IT, applications and web sites.
Having been involved in some of the preliminary discussions in iECM, the AIIM alliance that resulted in the CMIS alliance, I find the development of the two flavors of CMIS, SOAP and REST, very interesting. One world, the SOA world of web services, represents the operational, records-oriented roots of ECM where integration with structured business processes is important. The other, REST and Web 2.0-oriented services, represents the melding of content in the enterprise with the social content being created by Web 2.0, business communities and the social networks of companies. The REST style of interface also fits the growing Cloud Computing world much better. It became impossible to select one over the other. Each will find its own purpose. However, having a common set of data models and semantics makes it much easier for vendors fit in both worlds.
Having anticipated CMIS for some time, Alfresco is pleased to announce the first implementation of this specification. We have been anticipating and planning for this day since Alfresco’s creation at the beginning of 2005 and have been architecting the system to support both web services and a REST architecture. David Caruana, Alfresco's Chief Architect, has built our Web Scripts architecture to simplify the creation of CMIS-like services. Since CMIS is based upon the ATOM Publishing Protocol, it meant that we have a pre-existing standard to model how Web Scripts can be modeled and built. We were able to demonstrate interoperability of web scripts and our web services along with other CMIS implementations at the recent Plugfest in Redmond in August.
As we release our latest recommended version of Alfresco Labs 3, you can now try CMIS for yourself. Included are both the REST and the SOAP implementations as a prototyping platform. In addition, we have the latest version of the new SURF platform that simplifies building Web 2.0 types of applications and will increasingly be used to create CMIS applications and components as well. To complete the package, we are also delivering the latest version of Alfresco Share, which we anticipate will become a popular application for accessing not just Alfresco content, but other content in the future. We are very excited about what the future holds for CMIS, SURF, and Share. I would like to thank the Alfresco team for the hard work that they have put into building Share and SURF as next generation content applications and application platforms.
We congratulate EMC, IBM and Microsoft in setting aside their differences to create a common set of interfaces that will create a much bigger market for everyone and solve many customers problems of interoperability. We are proud to be part of the initial submission of this milestone stage in the development of the content management market.