Informatica just announced that they agreed to acquire Compact Solutions, a vendor of Enterprise Metadata Management with engineering and professional services being based out of Krakow, Poland. Compact Solutions core product is MetaDex, which enables full end-to-end visibility of data flows, especially around some complex data sources, and thus helps organizations in understanding, tracking, managing, and protecting data flows and increasing efficiency in their broader data and analytics landscape as well as making more efficient use of their data.

Metadata Management: Knowing your data and where it resides

Metadata Management is an approach which – ideally – provides insight into all data within an organization by adding valuable context to the data. Data resides in a variety of systems and is used in a variety of ways. The sprawl of data, which has increased over the past years with the event of Big Data and Cloud, makes efficient use of data a challenge, across a range of use cases. These include Analytics, Data Governance, Data Privacy, Master Data Management, Data Integration, or Data Quality.

Knowing where data resides and fully understanding the data can help in reducing sprawl and enabling a more efficient use of data with better data quality. It also helps organizations in efficiently migrating solutions and data to the cloud, as part of the common “cloud-first” strategies of today, by e.g. removing sensitive data elements ahead of migration, and by efficiently managing and governing key data assets in the cloud.

Metadata Management discovers and analyzes data sources, helps in understanding where data resides, where data is flowing and where it originates (i.e. Data Lineage). It is built around a Data Catalog, such as Informatica EDC, which includes the solutions' ability for discovering and extracting metadata from sources ranging from COBOL programs to cloud-based data storage.

The rationale behind the deal: Informatica’s strategy

Informatica is acquiring Compact Solutions to further strengthen its already extensive Metadata Management and data cataloging capabilities, and make its Enterprise Data Catalog the most comprehensive solution for a data catalog. Compact Solutions adds unique capabilities in extracting metadata and lineage from complex data sources such as code and stored procedures in databases and data warehouses (both static and dynamic code), legacy mainframe systems, and many other complex sources of such data.

Based on that, Informatica positions itself as the only vendor that can provide comprehensive Metadata Management and Data Catalog across all enterprise sources, and comprehensive data lineage.

The need for getting a grip on your big data: Governance, not data sprawl

Apparently, one aspect I’m specifically looking at is how this a better Metadata Management can help organizations in improving Data Governance, Data Privacy, and Security. Our observation is that virtually all organizations are facing challenges in these areas. This has become an even bigger challenge in the past year. Big Data is driving data sprawl. Enhanced Metadata Management helps deal with this sprawl by identifying, classifying, and governing this data. This is critical, especially for organizations that want to succeed in their Digital Transformation journeys.

Metadata Management helps in delivering on Big Data Security, Governance, and Stewardship, because they make sprawl manageable. I have no illusion that we will be able to reduce sprawl, but knowing where which data resides, what are its key attributes, what are the sources of this data, can this data be trusted and what is the quality of this data helps in getting grip on that data. Factually, Metadata Management might also help in reusing data instead of creating new instances, but probably growth will exceed reuse.

Metadata Management: The role in Data Security and Big Data Security

Beyond Big Data Governance, Metadata Management also is a foundation for getting better in Data Security and Big Data Security. Several organizations I’ve been talking to are understanding their shortcomings in efficiently and effectively managing all their data, from sources such as files to data lakes, databases, analytics, and BI reports being created by these. We look at the market for Database and Big Data Security for long, with our Leadership Compass and other research.

Knowing where data resides, where it is flowing, and how it gets transformed along its way (discovery and lineage) helps in enabling business (and also software vendors and cloud service providers, both Informatica and 3rd parties) to make progress on better solutions e.g. for

  • Data encryption/pseudonymization
  • PII protection and protection of other valuable information assets
  • Applying data security measures beyond that (e.g. access controls) more broadly and consistently

Enhanced Metadata Management the way Informatica is promising is an important step towards making significant progress in Big Data and Data Governance, Security, and Stewardship.

Data is the new gold if you know it

If you want to go with “data is the new gold”, or if you just see the increasing value and relevance of data for every modern business, one thing is apparent: Unless you have a grip on that data, you will struggle with leveraging the value of your data. Thus, better Metadata Management is essential, and this acquisition promises to be a significant step forward. But regardless of the solution, you choose: Metadata Management and comprehensive Data Catalogs are essential for every successful, digital business.

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