I've just reviewed some technology from a vendor who manages business and technical metadata as a service platform. Let me say: I'm impressed. There are many current issues these days with different BI and EDW implementations, specifically around managing, entering, and governing the business and technical metadata. For years I've found myself using Excel and Word to handle these tasks; while great tools - there are some problems for the Data Steward in the form of governance, management, and usefulness of metadata. In this entry, I'll discuss a new solution from IData called the Data Cookbook.
The company URL: http://www.idatainc.com
The product URL: http://www.datacookbook.com/
** NOTICE: I have not been paid for this review, nor am I under contract with IData in any way at this time. I believe in this product, and I truly like what I see. **
This software covers the following areas of need:
- Business Metadata - terms & definitions
- Technical Metadata - terms & Definitions
- Roles & Responsibilities - provide governance over these things
- Subscription based - SaaS will do nicely
- Ubiquitous access - Hand-held computing accessible
- Notification based - updates and changes notify appropriate individuals
- Workflow Managed - approvals, edits, changes, and publishing status
- Web-services - All metadata available through web-services.
There are several long standing needs in the EDW/BI community to enhance or enable the role of the Data Steward. There are also needs to enable the work of the Data Steward to share with all others on the implementation team, the business users, and executive staff, the actual business and technical metadata that comes with all BI and EDW projects. I've long wondered if or when someone would try to fill this gap, especially during the rad/jad sessions that the IT team has during requirements gathering. There may be a couple companies out there, but IData has clearly come to the table at the right time with the right product.
Someone has finally "Got-it". With the solution they have produced, the Data Steward's role is made 10x easier, maybe even 50x more effective. They can finally sit in on meetings, and using a simple web-interface, begin entering business terms and definitions that appear during requirements definitions, or user interviews. They can then assign workflow status to these terms such as: "needs review", or "to be discussed", or "finalized", and so on, to many others in the organization.
Links to these terms can be e-mailed to the CEO, or others in the executive staff, or the appropriate business user. Roles can be assigned to multiple users so they can log in and either edit the data/update it, or read it/approve it, tag it, or debate it. The Data Cookbook keeps track of all edits, all comments, all tags - who, what, and when; so it provides a "data warehouse" of sorts, across the business and technical metadata.
I forgot to mention this: there are tons of search terms available, there are access points through a brand new (just released) web-service API so that different BI tools can "hit" the stored ontology and retrieve these terms and definitions on-demand.
The one HUGE difference in all of this that I see here, is that the Data Cookbook also manages TECHNICAL metadata. Finally, at last - we can enter transformation rules (in textual format), requirements for data manipulation right along side of the business definitions - and manage them at the same time.
What's the catch? There's always a catch...
There really is no catch if you will, this is a web-service provisioned software - so no installations necessary, no new servers needed, just sign up a client - and provision roles & responsibilities and away you go. They also offer some basic reporting, and some nifty graphs and charts of terms that are "approved/edited" etc... where the terms are in the workflow process.
I will say this however, there are some areas for improvement (as with any software, there always are) - in which they hope to address these needs in the future. The areas they don't track today include: technical data lineage, hooks into data transformation tools to pull the current transformation rule sets out, and ontological based graphical views of the data. But again, these are minor needs compared to what they accomplish for business and projects today.
Today the real power is embedded in the usability, and in the fact that they TIE TOGETHER the business and technical metadata definitions, and apply roles & responsibilities and workflow analysis to managing it all. The fact that this is a web-interface means that we can enter the terms using any portable computing device, from an iphone to an android, to a mini, to a personal computer or laptop.
I no longer need to share or send my documents all over e-mail (with only a hope that change tracking will be used). I know that the terms, the definitions will be kept up to date, and that e-mails will be sent based on "subscription" to term changes. Finally, I have a working solution that is fully usable within the business.
I recommend anyone building an EDW or BI project that they at least look at this solution. I'm excited to see this technology come to light.
If you have questions or comments, please reply.
Posted March 30, 2010 4:10 AM
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