Friday, February 24, 2006
The importance of JSR 170
My colleague Apoorv has pointed out in his blog that Alfresco only supports level 1 JSR170 compliance. In my gushing endorsement below I had not noted this and think it well worth bringing to note.
JSR 170 is turning out to be one of the industries best kept secrets. I had a meeting with a client today, one who is very well informed and up to speed on all things CM, but had not realized the significance of this standard. And I find this is not uncommon - would love to hear from others on this.
JSR 170 is not a silver bullet, but it is probably the first meaningful example of a cross integration standard for CM. Previous attempts such as DMA or even the various workflow protocols from the WFMC fell well short of the mark. But the fact that there have been well tried attempts in the past opens up the question why, and if the JSR spec has any more chance of success.
Firstly a bit of history - the DMA (Document Management Alliance) now under the control of AIIM, tried to build specs for a model API for cross repository integrations. The WFMC tried to do something similar for workflow applications. These were worthy attempts but failed due largely (or entirely) to lack of enthusiasm from DM vendors. Why the heck would they want anyone else to access their repositories? In short a good idea for users, a rotten one for vendors.
But then came the portal technology and web applications that often if not always needed to interact with some kind of content repository. JSR 170 came from this need for a standard Java based API to access disparate repositories.
Most ECM and WCM vendors still think its a pretty rotten idea for others to access their repositories - why they cry isn't all of an enterprises content in a single instance of my (insert as neccessary - Hummingbird/OpenText/Interwoven/Documentum etc) repository?
But it just doesn't add up any more particularly in a web services and SOA world - so reluctantly they are coming round to it. More because it can be a disqualifier to RFP's than anything else I suspect. And on that note I would like to recommend here that EVERY RFP ask vendors if they are JSR 170 compliant and to what degree (not just a check box).
Database and Portal vendors are of course leading the way in JSR 170 compliance - but the ECM and WCM vendors are coming along at a steady pace. But all are not.
In my opinion and I am sure Apoorv would agree with me (and James Governor too I suspect) any software that has a content repository or interfaces with one should be JSR 170 compliant, if its not it shouldn't be on your list. By the way 'membership' of the JSR Expert Committee does not automatically mean the companies products are compliant :-)