Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Conceptual Framework for Semantic Integration

Let’s take a moment to elaborate on the core premise. What we’re really looking for is a mechanism that can tie together the ever-growing spectrum of specialized information, tools and techniques that we are forced to deal with in a typical enterprise today. The natural trend has pushing away from unified management or control over this environment and we have been playing catch-up for years as we attempt to impose order over enterprise entropy.

This situation applies equally to the development as well as the production environment. The fact is that no single control mechanism has yet been successful at tying together either environment (or both). And as we well know, complexity costs us big – in money, in time and in failure to meet expectations. SOA held promise in that it in contained control elements for both development and production. We are extending this to the next logical step – comprehensive control or at least direction over everything.

But ‘control’ is a frightening term for many, it may imply micromanagement which we know from experience doesn’t work too well in environments where change rules supreme. We don’t wish to stifle innovation or slow down the pace of change – any attempt to do so would surely lead to failure. What we need to do is understand or set the parameters of our known universe, to consciously design it in advance at a high level and guide all of its constituent elements along an evolutionary path that falls with those defined parameters. This could be viewed as ‘loose conformance’ rather than strict compliance.

Our enterprise universe is no longer restricted to any one organization, so the framework for accomplishing this definition must be a shared endeavor. This doesn’t necessarily imply technical standards; technical standards must all be subordinated to the true control mechanism – Semantics. Semantics allows us for the first time to design for scenarios where 100’s or 1000’s of applications share the same type of data and deconflict both their functions and information output.

The conflict between what appears to be redundant functionality and competing data elements is the most serious and complex challenge in every enterprise today. Many solutions have tried to address this by tracking metadata across the enterprise or by imposing governance rules – however both of those attempts still lack the most important key to success – the overall context in which all of the data and rules will operate – across not one but all potential enterprises. Semantic Integration will provide this context.

Copyright 2008, Semantech Inc.

No comments: