In-Depth

About standards

The key name here is the Meta-Object Facility (MOF) from the OMG. At its core, the standard is meant to provide a common basis for meta models, so that models based on different formats can reside in the same physical repository -- as long as everything is MOF-compliant.

MOF refers to a standard that comprises several others, including the Common Warehouse Metamodel (CWM), which is meant to allow users to exchange data among different products from different vendors; and the XML Metadata Interchange, which is specific to XML formats.

“MOF is a way of defining interchange formats,” said Pete Rivett, editor of the standard and a consulting architect at Adaptive, with European headquarters in Bournemouth, U.K. “You wouldn’t use MOF directly unless you were creating your own transfer format.”

Charles Betz, who heads up the meta data capability for a Fortune 100 retailer he was not allowed to name, said that he is just glad MOF is here. “What they’ve done is immediately and extremely useful for meta data management,” said Betz. Before MOF, the highest number of “scanners” in one repository product was around 30. (“Scanners” refer to a packaged way of inputting data from various sources.) Now, with a MOF-based repository and meta data management products from Adaptive, he can bring about 70 different sources.

Different pieces of MOF are more solid than others, explained Adaptive’s Rivett. “CWM is very mature and has been around for several years in the extract-transform-load space.” On the other hand, “for the EAI space, the standard is still new.”

Because the standard is still perking in some areas, not all vendors have yet committed to it. “A lot of people don’t understand the MOF and the power it has,” said Shawn Curtiss, director of marketing at integration software supplier MetaMatrix, New York City. “The standards are maturing rapidly.”

Please see the following related stories:
“The next step for meta data: Application integration” by Johanna Ambrosio


“What integration meta data should you collect?” by Johanna Ambrosio


“Best practices: Meta data integration” by Johanna Ambrosio

About the Author

Johanna Ambrosio is a freelance writer based in Marlborough, Mass., specializing in technology and business. Contact her at jambrosio@earthlink.net.

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