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Coalition accepts Microsoft-based "metadata" standard

Microsoft and 20 other software companies accept a standard method of identifying data stored in the systems of large corporations for use by knowledge-management software.

An industry coalition today announced the acceptance of a new "metadata" standard based on Microsoft technology for knowledge-management and business-process applications.

The Meta Data Coalition (MDC), of which Microsoft and 20 other software companies and services providers are members, has accepted the MDC Open Information Model as a new standard.

The standard is intended to provide a common way to identify data stored in large corporations, so that knowledge-management software products and other tools from multiple makers can recognize the data.

"The OIM provides a bridge between structured and unstructured data," said Teresa Wingfield, an analyst with Aberdeen Group.

The MDC announcement comes ahead of a competing metadata standards body called the Object Management Group (OMG), that has been working on a similar standard initiative called the common warehouse metadata initiative. IBM and its subsidiary Lotus sell products in the data warehouse and knowledge management market and are members of the OMG.

"OMG's standard doesn't marry with knowledge management," said Wingfield. "It's my hope that there will be a bridge between the two standards down the line."

Microsoft said it is also submitting three metadata data extensions to be included in the standard later in the year that will enable businesses to integrate its line-of-business, data warehousing, and knowledge-management environments.

One of the extensions Microsoft is working on is the knowledge description model, which allows a user of a knowledge management application to retrieve information more easily by using business-standard terminology. It also supports the interchange of business concepts and terms between applications, the company said.

Another extension, the business engineering model, allows users to develop a blueprint of that depicts how a company operates in terms of processes and goals.

The final extension is called the business rule model and allows metadata types to capture, classify, and store business rules, thus enabling interchange between rule-capturing tools, business process modeling environments, and back ends such as workflow engines.

"Generally it takes a lot of application developers tie all of these things together," said Wingfield. "That's the value of the OIM."

The phase of the submitting process for the new extensions is expected to end with an industry partner review in the fall, Microsoft said.