Metadata can be categorized into three types:
- Business metadata is critical to providing context for an integration project. It helps define terms in every-day language, without regard to technical implementation. For example, the language used to describe what a customer is and how to categorize a customer is often business-specific, and it might differ between company divisions.
- Examples: business rules, stewardship, business definitions, auditing terminology, glossaries, algorithms, and lineage using business language
- Audience: business users
- Technical metadata is often used by more technical staff, such as developers. It includes items such as table definitions and data types. These objects are used frequently during the application design and development process.
- Examples: definition of source and target systems, their table and fields structures and attributes, documentation for auditing derivations and dependencies
- Audience: specific tool users (BI, ETL, profiling, modeling)
- Operational metadata refers to the metadata generated and captured when a process executes. It allows administrators to manage the system and ensure things are running smoothly. Operational metadata also helps administrators troubleshoot issues if there is a problem with a process.
- Examples: information about application runs, including their frequency, record counts, component-by-component analysis, and other statistics for auditing purposes
- Audience: operations, management and business users
Unifying these types of metadata creates an end-to-end relationship, enabling users to understand not just where information is stored and what happened to it as it moved through the organization, but also the business context of that information.