The Content Management Interoperability Specification (CMIS) is an OASIS project started in 2008 and driven by a number of medium and large content management vendors (i.e., Alfresco, Day, EMC, Fatwire, IBM, Microsoft, Open Text and others).
At this point I'm assuming that most readers have basic familiarity with CMIS. But for those that don't, have a look at the informative JCR loves CMIS presentation by Nuescheler and review the CMSWire coverage here. If you're feeling ambitious, you can take the deep dive on the OASIS project website.
For the purposes of this article, let’s define CMIS as an interoperability specification for interacting with document-centric content repositories via HTTP-based protocols.
To keep ourselves on the straight and narrow, focus on the oft overlooked word interoperability in the CMIS acronym. Keep in mind that the aim of CMIS is to allow diverse systems to interoperate.
Further, CMIS is by definition a lowest common denominator specification — it only provides core functionality. And by being simple, it is meant to be easy for vendors to implement. In terms of its place in the standards world, CMIS is intended to complement JCR, not compete with it — JCRs are used as a systems internal repository, where as repositories interacted with via CMIS-compliant interfaces are typically supplementary.
CMIS from 10,000 Feet