Alfresco CTO John Newton talks about CMIS

Published on in Fierce Content Management

John Newton, CTO and Chairman at Alfresco, has been involved in the content management industry since 1990 when he was one of the founders and the lead designer at Documentum. More recently, he helped launch Alfresco, the open source content management vendor. Alfresco was involved with the talks that lead to the creation of the new Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) standards, and Alfresco Labs 3 already includes CMIS. I asked Newton based on his vast experience in the industry to talk about the significance of the CMIS and what it means to ECM.

FCM: Why has it taken so long and what factors lead to CMIS being adopted now?

JN: The pain of not having a standard has to be big enough for people to overcome their natural tendency to protect their own turf. That comes when a critical mass has been reached in the market. With the ECM market now at $4B, you can argue that it is long overdue.

FCM: What happens after OASIS takes control? Will there be changes and adjustments?

JN: There will naturally be changes, although the spec is very complete and very well thought out. As new participants come in, there will be a desire to expand the scope with that one "critical" feature. Still, we learned quite a bit with SAP coming on board with some great, real-world requirements around security. Though it would be nice to say that we will just punt on security until the release, it was clear we needed to introduce some way of adding policies to content.

We took the lessons learned from earlier standards, such as JCR, into consideration. This included looking at what is achievable and what the major vendors need in actually implementing the spec. At the moment, the current specification does exactly that and has been proven in interoperability sessions in Redmond.

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