Meta data hailed

The Object Management Group (OMG) is expected to announced today the ratification of a new standard for meta data called the Common Warehouse MetaModel (CWM).

The new specification -- sponsored by companies such as Oracle, IBM, Unisys, and NCR -- enables the sharing of meta data, or information that describes data. Traditionally, meta data of different vendors could not interoperate, and the new standard will bridge multivendor meta data together.

"Every component of a data warehousing solution has some form of meta data representation of the data," said Jagdish Mirani, a senior product director at Oracle. "The problem is that the way different tools represent information is not consistent."

CWM essentially makes meta data vendor-neutral, so a data warehouse manager does not have to stick to one vendor. With the new standard, components from different vendors can share meta data.

"This is by all means a multivendor effort," Mirani said. "These are vendors that fiercely compete together, and the fact that we collaborated on this enforces the importance of it. There is a significant freedom of choice benefit."

Although the standard will be ratified on Monday, the actual implementation of it will take time to be integrated into vendors' products. The key, according to Mirani, will be how quickly vendors adopt the specification and create standard-based meta data connectors for legacy products.

"[The CWM] is only good if vendors adhere to the standard and supply products that comply to it," Mirani said. "It's not about rip-and-replace. They need to start building bridges to products they've been selling to this standard."

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