David Soulsby, director of marketing for Computer Associates, spoke to an appreciative audience at The Data Warehouse Institute World Conference – Spring 2002 conference breakout session on the topic of meta data and enterprise integration. He stated that the many-to-many relationships in a data warehouse are not feasible. Soulsby compared the solution to the "union station" theory of railroads – where passengers were dropped off at a portal and went through a hub for transfer to other rail lines or into the real world. He advised joins through a hub-and-spoke architecture – a central core. Just as the railroads have timetables, Soulsby stated that "Meta data is the timetable for the warehouse. It tells you who, what, when and where. It leads to understandability, auditability and credibility – necessary components of a 21st century company."

IT will be facing a crisis within the next three to five years when the first generation of IT specialists retire. Soulsby said that the government sector is facing a 50 percent retirement rate within that time period. "If you think you have a knowledge management problem now, just wait three years," he quipped to the audience. He summed up with the observation that, "It’s about managing change – adapting and reacting more than once." He believes that change is constant, and meta data allows you to remember things that you should already know. Then Soulsby provided one last analogy. Data is equivalent to the core ingredients in a recipe. Information is gathering those ingredients into a fine dish, and value is data in action – turning out a delicious meal.

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