Metadata Is Key to

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2005-05-11 Print this article Print

Integration"> At Platinum a decade ago, Garry said, there were very strong, individual point products: performance monitors, job scheduler, systems monitor. The vision was to pull it all together into one integrated suite. That would mean every product would have to use a set of common services, Garry said. For Platinum, it was a communication layer that would enable every product to post events such as database tables being out of space or jobs failing. The communication layer would send the message to a centralized warehouse of alarms, and then the event management system would decide what to do with it.
What was wrong with that? It was hard. It was very, very hard. "The thinking back then was, a decade ago, that metadata management, to do that you need to have a dictionary," he said. "A data dictionary of all data items throughout the organization, and they would explain things like where this data comes from, how it came into being, how it operates, where it exists, who uses it, all this stuff."
All these are things that IBM would certainly have to do, Garry said. "They use special words like ontology, but the bottom line is its really, really hard to do. Theres a reason those companies got bought out and Platinum wasnt able to do anything. Companies tend to shy away from really, really hard stuff unless they absolutely need to do it." Analysts said that some of the issues to ask IBM and other vendors about, as they patch together both their data integration stories and their product suites, include these: How, exactly, does the vendor present a unified view of metadata across applications? What about across other pieces of the stack? To what depth does the metadata go? When a new application comes online, how does that new metadata get reconciled with the existing metadata? Is it automatic, or are we talking about an army of people dedicated to metadata? These questions arent optional, analysts said, since data integration simply cant be done without knowing the answers. "We have not yet heard a unified metadata or master-data management strategy as part of their integration story yet, which is key," said Mark Smith, an analyst at Ventana Research. "This is not optional for any real IT organization which has to begin the automation of the process to ensure quality and security of data across the enterprise. "Focusing on addressing these issues is critical. Now that Ascential has MetaStage [an enterprise metadata directory that provides analysis, reporting and management capabilities for corporate-wide metadata integration] and focus in this area, [it] needs to be part of a larger IBM strategy which is a put it in the database approach." Next Page: IBM has work to do, and it probably needs to spend more money.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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