CMIS: New Open Standard for Content Management Systems — and Quark!

Recently, I received a press release about an industry-wide push to create a new open standard — one that would allow content management systems to share content. You can read the original press release here.

I saw Quark’s name among the participating companies, so I asked to speak with Michael Boses, Quark’s Director of XML Products, who was quoted in the press release as saying:

“CMIS is an open standard that will give technology vendors, like Quark, the flexibility to work with a wide range of content management products without having to write adaptors for each system. CMIS will allow us to allocate more resources to advancing system functionality for end users with the knowledge that the new functionality works across all Enterprise Content Management systems that adopt the standard.”

Boses kindly agreed to speak with me about the new standard and what it means for Quark users. Here’s what I took away from our conversation:

Up until now, the companies that make content management systems (CMSes) haven’t been pushed to provide interoperability among their systems, so they focused on developing new capabilities within their products instead. The result is that we have a collection of powerful content management systems that are unable to share data, or connect to applications such as QuarkXPress, unless someone builds an “adaptor” to connect them. And of course, building an adaptor is a complicated, time consuming, and expensive affair. 

Today’s business landscape requires greater interoperability. Most larger companies employ several content management systems in various departments, and in many cases, users of one system cannot search for or access content from another department. Fortunately, three of the major CMS providers are participating in this new standard: IBM, EMC and Microsoft. Others include Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Alfresco, Booz Allen Hamilton, Magnolia, Nuxeo, Open Text, SAP, Saperion, Vamosa, and Vignette.

But beyond these larger enterprise users, this kind of interoperability is a huge benefit for producers of dynamic websites — which is just about everybody these days. So, the standard is being driven by not only the folks who sign the Big Checks for enterprise systems, but also by the considerably larger number of companies who require online access to their content. This kind of market pressure will no doubt force the CMS developers to adopt the new standard, or risk losing sales to those who do.

Companies such as Quark will benefit from the new standard because they can focus their R&D effort on making a better product, rather than on building adaptors for every CMS system their customers may want to use. (Quark has already built 10 adaptors for CMSes to communicate with Quark products.)

Daily users of these systems won’t necessarily see the benefit of the new standard for another couple of years, since that’s about how long it takes for companies to either upgrade their systems or to buy completely new ones. But the changeover is fairly certain, since the CMIS standard essentially future-proofs any purchase, and every customer wants that.

One question I have is: Where is Adobe in all this? They’re not listed among the creators or the supporters of the CMIS standard, and yet it seems that they would benefit as much as Quark by standardizing these connections to content management systems. Time will tell, I suppose.

You can read more about OASIS and the CMIS standard at the OASIS website here.