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Metadata Basics

Author: Pete Langlois/Tuesday, April 04, 2017/Categories: SNI Companies, SNI Technology

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Metadata is "data about data”. If managed properly, it is generated whenever data is created, acquired, added to, deleted from, or updated - in any data store and data system in the scope of the enterprise data architecture.

According to the team at TargetTech; Metadata provides a number of very important benefits to your company.

Consistency: Metadata contains information about data which helps reconcile differences in terminology such as "clients" and "customers", "revenue" and "sales”.

Clarity: Metadata helps resolve ambiguity and inconsistencies when determining the associations between entities stored throughout data environments. For example, if a customer declares a "beneficiary" in one application, and this beneficiary is called a "participant" in another application, metadata definitions would help clarify.

Caliber: Metadata contains information about the origins of a particular data set and can be granular enough to define information at the attribute level. Metadata may maintain allowed values for a data attribute; its proper format, location, owner, and steward. Operationally, metadata may maintain auditable information about users, applications, and processes that create, delete, or change data; the exact timestamp of the change; and the authorization used to perform these actions.

There are three broad categories of Metadata:

  • Business: Definitions of data files and attributes in business terms.
    It may also contain definitions of business rules applying to these attributes, data owners and stewards, data quality metrics, and similar information helping business users navigate the information ocean.

  • Technical: The most common form of metadata.
    This type of metadata is created and used by the tools and applications which create, manage, and use data. For example, some best-in-class ETL tools maintain internal metadata definitions used to create ETL directives or scripts. Technical metadata is a key metadata type used to build and maintain the enterprise data environment.

  • Operational: Contains information available in operational systems and run-time environments.
    It may contain data file size, date and time of last load, updates, backups, names of the operational procedures and scripts used to create, update, restore, or otherwise access data.

All of these types of metadata have to be persistent and available in order to provide necessary and timely information to manage often heterogeneous and complex data environments.

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Pete Langlois
Pete Langlois

Pete Langlois

Pete Langlois is the Chief Sales Officer at GEE Group. His blog leverages his decades of experience in hiring, training and retaining top talent and covers trends and issues of interest to employers and job candidates alike.

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Full biography

Pete Langlois is the Chief Sales Officer at GEE Group. His blog leverages his decades of experience in hiring, training and retaining top talent and covers trends and issues of interest to employers and job candidates alike.

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