Monday, May 22, 2006

Metadata repository integration conundrum

There is a lot of hype and buzz over metadata repository and management.
The main concern or rather an imperative requirement that is becoming commonplace is to come up with a strategy for implementing a centralized metadata repository solution that integrates the enterprise-wide business and technology metadata through a consistent and standard format.

For companies that are trying to develop such a metadata integration strategy and implementation, the most common solution is to partner with or buy a metadata repository solution that is capable of realizing the metadata integration dream.

But unfortunately enough, various efforts to logically or physically consolidate metadata descriptions into a single, shared and common view is met with the real-world issues of semantic inconsistencies and differences that exist both at the business as well as the technology level. These differences makes it hard if not practically impossible to find a common ground for metadata integration through a repository consolidation.

The Business semantic inconsistencies mainly arise from the lack of metadata management policies, procedures and standards that are implemented across the various Lines of Business (LOB's). This is further aggravated by a lack of ownership of the policies and standards by LOB owners and hence the reusability of metadata information is seriously thwarted.

The Technology semantic inconsistencies are easier to understand and comprehend. The varied array of technologies e.g. databases, datawarehouses, application servers, business process modeling techniques, business intelligence, etc which are further augmented by the ever-increasing number of vendors offering products and solutions, makes it a real tall order to standardize on an all-technology-encompassing standard for metadata integration.
Althogh efforts have been made by Standards bodies e.g. OMG to standardize on an information model for metadata exchange like XMI, it is almost an impossible chase towards attending technology standardization for metadata integration. Consider the commonplace occurrence of competitive vendors trying to provide differentiating solutions through proprietary extensions of the standards and specifications. This alone makes the dream of achieving a semantic consistency between metadata for technologies, impossible to realize.