ECM Standards

The ECM blogosphere is awash with discussions on standards, its a long story but there are interesting posts from James, Laurence and Craig. Looking at these you’ll find links to more posts, I’d encourage you to have a trawl around.

There are a number of interesting ideas, some I do not agree with such as the concept of RSS being the answer, but the one which hits the mark for me is in Craig’s post and in particular the notes about the Basic Content Services noted by Gartner. Whilst this is not the place to argue the merits of what Gartner classify as Basic Content Services it embodies the approach which I support.

The Services which are supplied by the various Content Management Systems in the marketplace do not vary too wildly. By identify these Core Services and starting the standardisation work in this area the ECM marketplace would be taking a big step forward.

What we must not forget in all of this is that ECM is the solution to a business problem, be it managing Regulatory Submissions in the Pharma world, managing Invoices and Contracts in the Financial Services sector or managing Engineering drawings in the Utilities domain. All of these ‘business problems’ have similar requirements which skilled architects can then compose logical services from. Identifying the common logical services such as Check-in, Check-out, Metadata, Content Lifecycle etc… and the behaviour expected of these services should happen long before technical solutions are investigated or designed. If when these are identified the likes of RSS can provide value to these services then lets look at it and put forward a solution based on, other, standards. This should be extended to the security services required of any ECM system, and yes if XACML is an existing standard which provides something which can be used in this area and meets the needs of an ECM system then it should be explored and integrated into the architecture. (Note James had questioned this on an earlier post I had made)

 Sometimes we do jump straight into the technical details too early. Whilst it is our role as technologists to guide the business in these areas and expose them to the benefits of the technologies we have at our disposal we must remain focussed on the business need.

Standards would certainly help ECM especially as we move to the notion of ECM as an infrastructure service, if only the industry would slow down with the rationalisation and allow itself to catch breath and think of some of these things!

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