Does your organization have a structured repository of metadata that can help a data center operator (whether they are on-site or off-shore) quickly troubleshoot a production incident related to a data integration job at 2:00 am in the morning? Or any time of day for that matter? This is just one use of metadata. A new Metadata Management whitepaper has just been published which describes the wide range of metadata types, uses and the business value derived from them.
The paper makes the point that there are several types of metadata:
- Technical metadata provides technical information about the data, such as the name of the source table, the source table column name and the data type.
- Business metadata supplies the business context around data, such as the business term’s name, definition, owners or stewards and associated reference data.
- Operational metadata furnishes information about the use of the data, such as date last updated, number of times accessed or date last accessed.
It goes on to explain an even longer list of uses:
- Visibility into how data is flowing through the environment. The first step toward managing the environment is to have a clear visual map of how the data is moving between data sources and targets.
- An impact analysis and root cause analysis. Impact analysis enables IT staff to see the impact of a proposed change to the environment before it is implemented and to understand the complex cross-dependencies involved. Root cause analysis enables business users to drill back from a term in a report to understand the source of the data and how it was moved and transformed as it was added to the report.
- A common business vocabulary that standardizes terminology. The resulting business glossary enables clear communication among business units and between business and IT.
- Accountability into who is responsible for business terms and definitions. If an issue is discovered relating to a business term, it is important to be able to identify who owns the term and is responsible for remediating any issues. It is also important to be able to see who has made changes to the term and when it was changed.
- Audit trail for auditability and compliance. Metadata management should be able to tell you who changed what and when. The transparency is especially important to ensure compliance with many data-driven regulatory edicts such as Sarbanes-Oxley and Basel II.
I’ve been writing about the value of metadata for years including this recent post on Master Metadata. Fortunately, I’m not the only one. Check out this article on Data Governance by Rob Karel or this one on Big Data Reference Architecture by Sunil Soares.
Metadata has been growing in importance for years. There is no longer any excuse for not knowing where your data is and where it’s been.