Have you ever heard about the terms metadata repository or data dictionary? These concepts are related to metadata storage. But not only. Let’s have a look at it a bit deeper!
At first, do you know what metadata is? Most probably you have heard it is data about data. Well, yes and no. To be more specific and precise, metadata is data about a structure containing the data. In other words, metadata describes the structure of data.
Ok, but why is it so important to be able to describe the structure of data?
Basically, without any structure your data would be only a random bulk of information. These data would not have any meaning then. Therefore, applying the metadata, we get a coherent system of valuable information. It means that these information are not only an unknown bulk of data, but it is a searchable collection of worthwhile resources.
Types of metadata
Nice! So, simply said, metadata helps to organize my data, right? Is there any characteristic how to distinguish between one to another metadata?
Sure, there are three main characteristics how to distinguish between metadata. We call them:
Descriptive metadata describes an intellectual content of data, whereas structural organizes parts and relationships among your data. Last but not least, the administrative metadata solves the problem how to manage your data.
Let’s imagine a book you borrow in a library. The story itself is your primary data. The introduction, the part about the author or the legend are descriptive metadata. The chapters or paragraphs are structural metadata. And finally, the information about the date, period and name of the person who borrows the book are the administrative metadata.
Characteristics of metadata
Cool, so what is it a metadata repository then? We call it also a data dictionary. Basically, it is a tool for storage and catalogue the metadata. Well-designed metadata repositories specify diverse data structures of dozens to hundreds various parts of information about each data structure.
These metadata should be:
- Current and historical
Generic means that in the case any change occurs, physical meta model is not affected by that change. Integrated refers to the fact that it covers all domains and subjective areas of the organisation and creates one unit. Moreover, the meta repository has to allow the access to both current and historical metadata.
Metadata registry vs. metadata repository
So, metadata repository (data dictionary) stores the metadata? Not only. For metadata storage, there is a tool called metadata registry. This tool defines metadata elements and maintains them across the organisation. But metadata repository does more complex job.
Does it mean that metadata repository connects all the metadata together? Simply said yes. Metadata repository enables to create relationships among the related metadata types. It connects the various systems of metadata and finally makes reflections based on that. We can imagine it as particular metadata linked with relations which are basically channels enabling dataflow. This brings the integrity of data into the organisation which helps to handle the changes and assess the possible impact in the future.
Benefits for your business
Why should any organisation consider such a solution? There are many reasons or benefits why to use a tool based on metadata repository solution. Briefly, to implement this kind of tool, you get all data to one integrated place. It brings more control over your data and outcomes. To sum it up, you can forecast much better and make highly advised business decisions.
If you want to know more, check this solution!