IBM's Xperanto is much in the news (and I hope to discuss here it some detail in the near future). Xperanto is aimed at data integration. Put simply, it uses DB2, XML and a software layer to allow you to look across heterogeneous data sources and view the data thereon as if it all existed on a single central platform.
So far, so good. Then it occurred to me to wonder whether, if Xperanto can be used for data integration, it could also be used for metadata integration. There seems to be no reason why not. But before getting all excited about the possibility of improved facilities for metadata management using Xperanto, I thought I'd better check what the Repository vendors were planning. Sure enough, ASG (Allen Systems Group), the owner of both Manager Products and Rochade, is planning a Virtual Repository.
How is this similar to Xperanto? And why is it significant? The answer to the first question is that the Virtual Repository will support federated repositories in a very similar way to Xperanto's support for federated databases, with a single central view across metadata that may be scattered in various locations across the enterprise.
Why is this important? Metadata is generally managed in isolated islands just like data was managed 30 years ago - there are multiple versions of the truth, with multiple owners and no overall control. But, unlike the introduction of the database, the use of Repositories has not become widespread. This is because they are much more complex than databases and require a major investment if you want to make them work.
So, with a few exceptions, Repositories have been limited to use as embedded functionality within other products such as development tools, systems management products and so on and so forth. Even security directories like LDAP or Active Directory are, effectively, repositories in their own right. So, you can see the problem, integrating all the metadata from these environments into a single monolithic installation would be a nightmare.
What the Virtual Repository will enable you to do is to leave metadata in situ but view it centrally. Management over all the different metadata elements out there may be some time coming, not least because not all vendors support the relevant standards, but at least there is the realistic prospect of some sort of inroads being made into the problem.
Repositories have not been sexy since IBM dropped AD/Cycle. But they fulfil a much needed function. Perhaps the advent of the Virtual Repository can re-kindle the flames of desire.
Copyright 2002 IT-Director.com provides IT decision makers with free daily e-mails containing news analysis, member-only discussion forums, free research, technology spotlights and free on-line consultancy. To register for a free email subscription, click here.
For more information:
- Looking for free research? Browse our comprehensive White Papers section by topic, author or keyword.
- Are you tired of technospeak? The Web Services Advisor column uses plain talk and avoids the hype.
- For insightful opinion and commentary from today's industry leaders, read our Guest Commentary columns.
- Hey Codeheads! Start benefiting from these time-saving XML Developer Tips and .NET Developer Tips.
- Visit our huge Best Web Links for Web Services collection for the freshest editor-selected resources.
- Visit Ask the Experts for answers to your Web services, SOAP, WSDL, XML, .NET, Java and EAI questions.
- Couldn't attend one of our Webcasts? Don't miss out. Visit our archive to watch at your own convenience.
- Choking on the alphabet soup of industry acronyms? Visit our helpful Glossary for the latest lingo.
- Discuss this article, voice your opinion or talk with your peers in the SearchWebServices Discussion Forums.