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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
What is MetaData in Data Warehouse?
3.
Several Examples of Metadata
4.
Types of MetaData in Data Warehouse
4.1.
Descriptive Metadata
4.2.
Structural Metadata: 
4.3.
Administrative Metadata
4.4.
Technical Metadata
4.5.
Rights metadata
4.6.
Preservation metadata
5.
Features of MetaData in Data Warehouse
6.
Metadata Repository
7.
Applications of MetaData
8.
Benefits of Metadata
9.
Limitations to MetaData Management
10.
Metadata Management Software:
11.
Difference Between Data and Meta Data
12.
Frequently Asked Questions
12.1.
What is a data warehouse and its types?
12.2.
What is metadata in data warehouse?
12.3.
What is the role of metadata?
12.4.
Is Metadata the same as Big Data?
13.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024
Medium

Introduction to Meta Data for Data Warehousing

Author Amit Singh
0 upvote
Master Python: Predicting weather forecasts
Speaker
Ashwin Goyal
Product Manager @

Introduction

Metadata is information that describes and gives context to other data. It includes details about the content, format, and structure, enhancing data organization, searchability, and accessibility.

metadata in data warehouse

Then you have come to the right place. This article is focused on an important concept known as Metadata in Data Warehouse. We will learn about its features, application, limitations and more. Let's dive into the article to learn more about the topic.

What is MetaData in Data Warehouse?

Metadata is data that describes other data. In data warehousing, Metadata refers to information representing the characteristics and structure of the data present in the warehouse. Metadata can include information such as column names, data types, relationships between tables, and any constraints or business rules that apply to the data. 

Metadata is vital for managing and maintaining a data warehouse as it provides a clear understanding of the data, ensures data quality and consistency, and improves query performance. You can use Metadata for data lineage, which is the ability to trace the origin and lineage of data in the warehouse. This is important for compliance, auditing, and troubleshooting.

Also read - metadata in dart

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Several Examples of Metadata

Metadata is information that describes other data. Here are several examples of metadata:

  • File metadata: This includes information about a file, such as its name, size, type, creation date, and modification date.
     
  • Image metadata: This includes information about an image, such as its resolution, color depth, camera settings, and GPS coordinates.
     
  • Audio metadata: This includes information about an audio file, such as its title, artist, album, and genre.
     
  • Video metadata: This includes information about a video file, such as its title, director, actors, and genre.
     
  • Document metadata: This includes information about a document, such as its title, author, creation date, and modification date.
     
  • Email metadata: This includes information about an email, such as its sender, recipient, subject, and date sent.
     
  • Web page metadata: This includes information about a web page, such as its title, description, and keywords.
     
  • Database metadata: This includes information about a database, such as its tables, columns, and constraints.

Types of MetaData in Data Warehouse

There are several different types of Metadata in Data warehouse. Different types of metadata can be used to provide information about various elements of data, including its content, origin, structure, and format. Some commonly used Metadata are:

Descriptive Metadata

It is a type of Metadata that describes the content of a data or digital asset, such as its title, author, date created, and keywords. It is often used to help users find and identify a specific asset. 

Structural Metadata: 

It is a type of Metadata that describes the organization of a data or digital asset, such as the page layout of a document or the chapter structure of an ebook. It is often used to help users navigate and understand the content of an asset. 

Administrative Metadata

It is a type of Metadata that describes the management and preservation of a digital asset or data, such as its file format, copyright status, and access restrictions. It is often used to ensure the long-term preservation and accessibility of an asset.

Technical Metadata

It is a type of Metadata that describes the technical characteristics of a data or digital asset, such as its resolution, color space, and file format. It is often used to ensure the proper display and playback of an asset.

Rights metadata

It is a type of Metadata that describes the rights associated with a digital asset, such as its copyright status, licensing information, and permissions for reuse. It is often used to ensure compliance with copyright laws and to facilitate the sharing and reuse of assets. 

Preservation metadata

This type of Metadata describes the preservation of a digital asset, such as its format, checksum and fixity information, and migration history. It is often used to ensure the long-term preservation and accessibility of an asset.
 

It is important to note that Metadata can be embedded within the file or stored separately. Depending on the use case, metadata can be created manually or automatically generated. Furthermore, metadata standards such as Dublin Core and XMP are widely used to ensure consistency and interoperability between systems.

Related article - datatypes in big data

 

Features of MetaData in Data Warehouse

At this point, you must have realized the importance of Metadata. 

features

Now, let's see the features of MetaData. It has many features, some of which are: 

  1. Description: Metadata provides a description of the data it is associated with, such as title, author, date created, and keywords.
     
  2. Organization: You can use Metadata to organize data, such as structuring a document into chapters or sections.
     
  3. Interoperability: Metadata can be used to ensure interoperability between different systems by following common metadata standards.
     
  4. Searchability: You can use Metadata to improve the searchability of data. This improvement makes it easier for users to find and access the information they need.
     
  5. Contextualization: Metadata can provide context for the data it is associated with, making it easier for users to understand and interpret the information.

Metadata Repository

A Metadata Repository is like a big digital library where information about other data is stored. Imagine you have a huge room full of boxes, and each box has a label telling you what's inside and how those items are organized. In the digital world, these boxes are files or databases, and the labels are what we call metadata.

This special library doesn't just keep the labels; it also organizes them in a way that makes it easy for people to find what they're looking for. For example, if you need information about a photo, like when it was taken or who is in it, the Metadata Repository helps you find this information quickly.

In a Metadata Repository, there are also rules about how to add new labels and how to keep the labels accurate and up-to-date. This is important because it makes sure that when someone looks for information, they can trust what they find.

People who work with lots of data, like scientists or business analysts, use Metadata Repositories to keep their data organized. This way, they can focus on their important work, knowing that the information they need is easy to find and reliable.

Applications of MetaData

In a data warehouse, Metadata plays a critical role. Although it has a different function than the warehouse data, metadata nonetheless have a significant impact. Some of the essential roles are:

  • Metadata behaves like a file. The decision support system uses this file to find the data warehouse's content.
     
  • Metadata assists decision support systems in mapping the data when transforming data from an operational to a data warehouse environment.
     
  • You can use Metadata for query tools.
     
  • You can use metadata in cleansing and extraction tools.
     
  • Metadata has a crucial role when it comes to loading functions.

Benefits of Metadata

  • Data Integrity: Metadata ensures reliability and authenticity by outlining the source, background, and nature of the data.
     
  • Version control: Version control is essential for managing changes and versions, which is why it's used in software development, content revision, and document management.
     
  • Accessibility: Metadata supports accessibility guidelines, enhancing the inclusiveness and accessibility of content for all users.
     
  • Collaboration: By providing context and understanding of shared resources, it promotes collaboration.
     
  • Preservation: By recording historical context, metadata helps to preserve digital archives and cultural heritage.
     
  • Personalization: Metadata enables personalized user experiences in e-commerce and content recommendation systems.
     
  • Data governance: It establishes guidelines for data use while guaranteeing confidentiality, integrity, and moral treatment.
     
  • Interoperability: Metadata makes it easier for different systems to exchange data, which improves compatibility and integration.

Limitations to MetaData Management

Metadata management has some limitations as well. Following are some limitations of Metadata management.

  1. Quality of Data: Issues related to the quality of the data can arise from improperly organized or inaccurate Metadata, which makes it more challenging to use and comprehend the data.
     
  2. Devoid of Standardization: When it comes to the management of Metadata, different systems or organizations use different conventions or standards. So, when you are managing metadata from different sources, you may face difficulties.  
     
  3. Control over Data: In big organizations that have many stakeholders, it isn't easy to keep the policies or standards in place.
     
  4. Data Integrity: When you are working on the integration of data from different sources, you have to ensure the consistency of the Metadata.
     
  5. Security over Data: When working with confidential or sensitive data in any organization, you have to handle privacy and security, which is quite tricky.

Metadata Management Software:

Metadata management software is like a librarian for digital information. It's designed to organize and keep track of essential details about your data. Here is a concise description in pointer form:

  • Data organization:  This is made easier using metadata software, which sorts and categorizes data.
     
  • Information about Information: It acts as a digital name tag by storing important information about files, like the creation date, author, or keywords.
     
  • Search Efficiency: By enabling you to filter and locate files based on their metadata, this software streamlines searches.
     
  • Asset tracking: It helps keep track of digital items like images, videos, and documents stored in media archives or libraries.
     
  • Compliance and Security: Metadata tools help ensure data complies with regulations and maintain security by keeping track of who accessed or modified files.
     

Also, see Data Mining

Difference Between Data and Meta Data

Let's try to understand the difference between data and metadata. 

S.No.

Data

Metadata

1. It is the actual information that is being stored and analyzed. It is the information that describes the characteristics and structure of the data.
2. It can be in any format (numeric, text, image, etc.). It is typically in the form of labels or descriptions.
3. It is used for decision-making and analysis. It is used to manage and maintain the data and understand its characteristics and structure.
4. It can be stored in the data warehouse or other storage systems. It is typically stored in a separate metadata repository or embedded within the data warehouse.
5. Examples: customer names, sales figures, product descriptions Examples: column names, data types, relationships between tables, constraints or business rules

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a data warehouse and its types?

The data is ingested, transformed, processed, and made accessible for use in decision-making in the data warehouse. The three main types of data warehouses are enterprise data warehouse (EDW), operational data store (ODS), and data mart.

A data warehouse can be understood as a central location where data from one or more sources are gathered.

What is metadata in data warehouse?

Metadata in a data warehouse is like a catalog that describes data. It includes info about data sources, formats, meanings, and how data is organized, helping users understand and use data effectively.

What is the role of metadata?

Metadata plays the role of providing information about data. It acts like a data's "ID card," offering details such as when it was created, who created it, and its characteristics, making data easier to manage and understand.

Is Metadata the same as Big Data?

Metadata provides detailed information about a file, while Big Data allows you to find patterns in the complete data.

Conclusion

Metadata in data warehousing is important for understanding, organizing, and managing data. It describes data characteristics and relationships, enabling data quality, searchability, and compliance. Although metadata has limitations, its role in decision support, data lineage, and preserving data integrity is important for efficient data management.

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