IBMs Mattos: The Metadata Story Has Jelled

Q&A: Nelson Mattos, vice president of strategy for IBM's Information Integration Solutions, lays out the details behind how IBM is attempting to master metadata in its Information Management strategy.

Analysts say that following the Ascential acquisition—only the latest in a string of acquisitions over the past years—IBM is well on its way to becoming the leader in the field of data integration.

But analysts and customers also say that they havent yet heard the full metadata story. Thats important, because metadata is the glue that binds it all together. As vendors seek to tie together disparate integration tools such as ETL (extraction, transformation and loading), EAI (enterprise application integration), data profiling, into one, integrated platform of integration tools, this metadata story is crucial.

Whether youre talking about operational metadata that describes datas journey from source to data warehouse—including data origin and travel speed—or business process metadata that describes what a "transaction" is and what business processes it encompasses, customers will need to know details of how that metadata is handled.

How automatic will discovery be? How deep will metadata descriptions be?

Database Editor Lisa Vaas sat down with Nelson Mattos, vice president of strategy for IBMs Information Integration Solutions, to get this metadata story.

You say that many of the answers to the metadata questions are held within the history of IBMs Information Management strategy. Could you give us a summary?

The first step of our metadata strategy was to focus on operational metadata.

What I mean by that is the metadata that is necessary for my integration platform to be able to operate. It describes the fact that I have, [say,] an Oracle database that Im integrating, that that Oracle database runs on an AIX machine, that the AIX machine has 2GB of memory, that the speed of the network that connects my integration platform to Oracle can move so many bits per second, and so on and so forth.

The whole focus of the operation on the metadata effort was so that early adopters can use [this] information technology in well-defined projects: [i.e.,] where the data understanding was known, so I know that Im building, say, a portal [to deliver] an integrated view of customers, and I know the data is coming from Siebel or Oracle [etc.].

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read about analysts frustration in getting the metadata story out of IBM and other vendors as they race toward next-generation data integration.

Obviously, we have always understood that business metadata and semantic metadata is very, very critical for integration, both for runtime of the integration platform as well as for the tools that business users, data integrators, administrators, data architects and developers will use.

Another key aspect of our metadata strategy is the delivery of the open-source Eclipse tool framework. Eclipse provided tool integration at the metadata level, particularly for application developers.

Next Page: Success of Eclipse is a data-integration proof point.