If there is to be a resurgence in metadata management, appropriate procedures and solutions will need to be put in place to bring order to the chaos that is corporate data. I’ve recently written about how I believe there will be a resurgence of metadata management. Basically, I wrote that metadata is becoming increasingly important due to the alarming growth rate of data (doubling annually according to Information Week) and the increasing onerous burden imposed by regulatory compliance. Metadata helps us to understand the growing volume of data, which in turn helps us to assure that we are in compliance with governmental regulations.
OK, so hopefully you agree that metadata is important. Now, how can we manage metadata? The promise of metadata is that it will, if managed properly, provide corporate IT departments with a well-documented, up-to-date view of their data assets. But corporate data environments are riddled with redundancy and undocumented data which can easily lead to questionable data integrity and countless hours of time wasted. Much of the knowledge worker’s or business analyst’s time is spent chasing down data lineage to understand things like, “which customer record is most accurate, the one in the CRM or in the finance application?” And even if organizations manage to document the origins of their data, new development projects take off with no regard for standards adherence, leaving data managers right back where they started.
So how do you ensure that you are exploiting the metadata you are collecting to the fullest, possible extent? How do you make sure that your metadata is easily accessible and effectively used across your organization? Well, this is where modeling comes in to play. Modeling is important to metadata management.
Effective communication is at the heart of the metadata value proposition. Data managers must be able to interpret the data coming into their organization and then provide a roadmap to everyone else so that they too can reach their destination. Modeling adds value to metadata management much the same way it does for data itself — by serving as a standardized language, easily understood by everyone from business users to application developers to DBAs.
Proper modeling requires an integrated system incorporating tools, process, and people. Attacking the proper setup of your data architecture is beyond the scope of this blog entry, but we may discuss this in future postings. For now, let’s just focus on the top five advantages of using modeling to enhance metadata management. Starting with number 5 and counting down “Letterman”-style:
#5 Data Structure Quality. Models ensure that the business design of a data architecture is appropriately mapped to the logical design, providing comprehensive documentation on both sides.
#4 Data Consistency. By having standardized nomenclature for all data — including domains, sizing, and documentation formats — the risk of data redundancy or misalignment is greatly reduced.
#3 Data Advocacy. Models help to emphasize the critical nature of data within the organization, indicating direction of data strategy and tying data architecture to overall enterprise architecture plans, and ultimately to the business’s objectives.
#2 Data Reuse. Models, and encapsulation of the metadata underpinning data structures, ensure that data is easily identified and is leveraged correctly in the first place, speeding incremental tasks through reuse and minimizing the accidental building of redundant structures to manage the same content.
#1 Data Knowledge. Models, combined with an efficient modeling practice, enable the effective communication of metadata throughout an organization, and ensure all stakeholders are in agreement on the most fundamental requirement: the data.
Good luck tackling your company’s data and metadata – and be sure to visit my blog on a regular basis for more on this topic and many other data, database, DBA, and related issues.