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* First book that helps businesses capture corporate (human) knowledge and unstructured data, and offer solutions for codifying it for use in IT and management.
* Written by Bill Inmon, one of the fathers of the data warehouse and well-known author, and filled with war stories, examples, and cases from current projects.
* Very practical, includes a complete metadata acquisition methodology and project plan to guide readers every step of the way.
* Includes sample unstructured metadata for use in self-testing and developing skills.
CHAPTER TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Introduction 1 2. A Brief History of Metadata 3 3. Types of Metadata 12 4. Where Can You Find Business Metadata? 13 5. Structured and Unstructured Metadata 16 6. Where Business Metadata Is Stored 18 7. When Does Business Data Become Business Metadata? 19 8. Business Metadata over Time 20 9. Reference Files: Master Data Management (MDM) and Business Metadata 21 10. Summary 22
Business metadata has existed since man formed the first business. Then all business metadata existed in the heads of the business owner and employees. Over time some of the business metadata was recorded on the writing instruments that were available. While much of our business metadata today also exists in the heads of the business's employees, a significant amount of it has been captured in the form of documents, pictures or illustrations, e-mails, spreadsheets, or in databases and technology tools.
This book explores the often neglected role of business metadata in today's world. It is not merely a technology book, though we envision that the main audience will be made up of technology practitioners. It touches upon many trends evident in the use of technology today, by businesspeople and technical people alike. Although we will discuss traditional metadata technology, we will also venture into technology subjects such as:
* Web 2.0
* "The Semantic Web"
* Collaboration and Groupware
* "The Wisdom of Crowds"
* Data Management and Governance
The proper exploitation of business metadata, by both technologists and businesspeople, can revolutionize the use of technology, making it the facilitator of enterprise knowledge that it was always meant to be. Technology can lend assistance to how business metadata can enable business to be conducted on many levels, from facilitating communication and fostering true understanding to providing background information so that appropriate decisions can be made.
Technical metadata has been around since the invention of computers; it has had various incarnations based on the requirements of the technology, but technical metadata has always been found in one form or another. The first section of this chapter covers a brief history of information technology, highlighting where business and technical metadata in general has surfaced and what role it has played over the years.
Metadata can be broken down into two major categories, based on the audience that it serves: business and technical. Commercial off-the-shelf software products (COTS) have in the past focused on technical metadata, which serves the technical practitioner, programmer, or DBA (database administrator). Technical metadata has been seen as important to managing the technical environment, especially as these environments get increasingly more complex.
Business metadata concerns itself with assisting businesspeople, nontechnical users, in understanding the data. It adds context to the data. It is meant to communicate with businesspeople and not the technicians.
This chapter provides examples of what simple, common, everyday business metadata looks like and traditionally where it is stored. Today a lot of attention is being given to business reference data or Master Data Management, and this subject will be discussed briefly in the context of business metadata.
This chapter also discusses how business metadata changes over time. It is important to consider exactly what is changing: is it just the instance of the data, or is it the meaning of the field (metadata)? If it is the metadata, then the business metadata is changing, and it is important that the business is aware of this because it affects the interpretation of the data. Business metadata is all about the correct interpretation of the data and how this affects the business as a whole. And this book examines all the facets of business data, demonstrating its overall role and importance. The diligent management of business metadata can greatly enhance the running of the business and its efficient and effective use of information throughout the enterprise.
The rest of the book will discuss topic such as:
* Where business metadata comes from
* How you capture it when it lives in people's heads
* How you would implement a business metadata initiative
* Who funds such an initiative
* Where you would store the business metadata
* How you would integrate business metadata with technical metadata
* How you would deliver it to the business community in such a way as to be useful
In addition, special classes of business metadata will be introduced, such as:
* Unstructured business metadata (also covered briefly in this chapter)
* Business rules
* Data/information quality
* Governance and compliance
1.2 A Brief History of Metadata
Business metadata can be traced back to the very earliest information systems. In order to identify the roots of business metadata, it is necessary to go back to the beginning. We will not review all of the forms of its technological lineage, such as networks or online applications; rather, we will just cover some of those technologies that impact our discussion of business metadata.
1.2.1 In the Beginning
In the beginning were early forms of storage and technology. There were paper tape and punched cards. These early storage media operated on the basis of punches (chads) made in paper, which represented text or numbers. The languages that operated on these early forms of storage were assembler, COBOL, and Fortran (see Figure 1.1). The storage media was good for small amounts of data to be used in a short amount of time. But when a lot of data appeared or when the data had to be used over a long period of time, these storage media were not adequate.
Soon magnetic tape appeared and much more data could be stored much more reliably. Magnetic tape was a lot faster to access than punched cards and magnetic tape could handle a lot more data (see Figure 1.2).
A structure of data called the "master file" grew up with the magnetic tapes of the day. The master file was the place where applications stored data that was central to the processing of the application. But magnetic tapes were not without their limitations. On the occasion that a magnetic tape shredded or lost its oxide, the tape and all its data were rendered useless. And with a magnetic tape it was often necessary to spin the entire tape in order to look at 5% or less of the data.
1.2.2 Disk Storage
Soon another storage medium appeared (see Figure 1.3). This medium was called the disk store, or DASD (direct access storage device). With disk storage, data could be accessed directly. And with disk storage lots of data could be stored (relative to the amount of data that could be stored on punched cards).
Soon applications built on disk storage began to appear. With the advent of disk storage began a class of system software known as a database management system (DBMS), and soon after the DBMS came online database applications (see Figure 1.4). Online database applications opened up computing to the corporate world in a way that nothing previously had approached. With online systems came transaction processing. And with transaction processing, the clerical community of the corporation was exposed to the computer.
Soon there were bank teller systems, ATM systems, airline reservation systems, manufacturing control systems, retailing systems, and many more. Prior to online processing, if the computer went down, the business hardly knew it. But with online processing, if the computer went down or the computer slowed, the business was affected negatively in many ways. With the power rendered by online processing and disk storage came even more applications.
1.2.3 Access to Data
Soon lots of applications were springing up, and with the applications came the realization that entire large groups of people who needed data from the applications could not access the data. The applications that were built were designed for the specific requirements of a few users. If you were one of these users, you were fine. But if you were not, then you were unable to use the data that coursed through the veins of the applications. Much of the inability to use those applications was due to the lack of business metadata. There was no capability developed with the application that communicated what the application functions were and how to use them. In particular, the marketing, accounting, sales, and finance organizations felt left in the cold when it came to gaining access to the data flowing through the applications.
Into this environment came 4GL (Fourth Generation Language) technology, which enabled somewhat technically savvy mere mortals (nonprogrammers) to create reports (see Figure 1.5).
Access to data was enabled for all sorts of people! The problem was that the data the reports requested were in different systems and not integrated. The applications had been built to satisfy immediate requirements, not to be integrated with other applications.
1.2.4 The Personal Computer
In the same time frame came the personal computer. The appeal of the personal computer in the context of corporate systems was that corporate data could be stripped from the large mainframes holding applications, and it could be made available to anyone having a personal computer. Indeed, many sorts of interfaces to the personal computer were beginning to spring up.
But it was noticed that merely throwing corporate data off to a personal computer or off to a 4GL was no solution. Several problems were endemic to the access and usage of corporate applications data, notably:
* No integration. Each application captured, stored, and organized data in its own way.
* No place for historical data. Applications—especially online applications – stripped historical data out of the environment as quickly as possible in the name of high performance,
* No granular foundation of data from which data could be looked at in different ways and still have a single point of reference.
Figure 1.6 illustrates the proliferation of 4GL reports and PCs.
1.2.5 Data Warehousing
Soon the concept of a data warehouse developed, and there appeared a place where integrated, historical data and a granular level could be stored. Now there was a place where the difficulties of multiple applications could be resolved (see Figure 1.7).
Around the data warehouse grew up different architectural constructs such as the Corporate Information Factory, all for the purpose of accessing and analyzing data for better management decisions. Some of the architectural constructs that surrounded the data warehouse were:
* Data marts, where different departmental organizations could look at data in their own unique way
* Exploration warehouses, where statistical processing could be done with no interference from the regular users of the data warehouse
* The ODS (operational data store), where online real-time access of data could be done
* Near-line storage, where overflow processing could occur when the data warehouse became very large
* Adaptive project marts, where temporary analytical files could be created
* DSS applications, where applications were created using the data found in the data warehouse
* ETL, where data was read from the operational environment and transformed into corporate integrated data in the data warehouse; and so forth
1.2.6 Metadata in Systems Evolution
Throughout the evolution that has been described in Figures 1.1 through 1.7, metadata has existed. The classical definition of metadata is "data about data." But this simple definition belies the complexity that inevitably comes with business and technical metadata.
Excerpted from Business Metadata by W.H. Inmon Bonnie O'Neil Lowell Fryman Copyright © 2008 by Elsevier Inc.. Excerpted by permission of MORGAN KAUFMANN. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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