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Long-time readers will know that I have been a fan of Silwood Technology’s Safyr product for some time. To recap, Safyr extracts all relevant metadata (including any customisation) from source ERP and CRM systems from vendors such as SAP, Oracle and Salesforce. This metadata includes not just information about tables but also information about referential integrity that may be defined logically (in the application server) rather than physically (in the database). Extracted metadata is stored in Safyr’s own repository so that it can be investigated without impacting on the source systems. Repository management is provided to support extracted metadata from multiple applications or multiple versions (test, development and production) of a single application. You can search, sort and filter against metadata to create domain-specific subject areas either starting on a table basis or from an application perspective, and you can filter out tables that have no values in them. Subject areas can be visualised directly within Safyr but can also be exported to leading data modelling tools for use when building a variety of solutions.
Now consider that in the context of data catalogues. Data catalogues are all about providing information to users about what data they have available to them for analysis purposes. And they have automated facilities for discovering this information. But that is at the database level and not the application level. If you have an SAP ERP implementation, for example, you could have 1,200 tables with customer related data in them, with no meaningful naming conventions, meaning that both table and column names give you no clue as to what is in them. And while some of these tables may have useful things like email addresses in them, many will not. Discovering what is actually relevant and what is not is therefore a major task, unless you use Safyr or a tool like it. Except that I don’t know any tools like Safyr.
Silwood has recently announced a partnership with Collibra specifically to support this sort of functionality. And I expect to hear of other such announcements, with other vendors that either have, or specialise in, data catalogues, over the coming months.
While Safyr has always represented pretty cool technology it has, to a certain extent, been a slow burner. The advent of data catalogues makes it a must have capability for the environments it supports. It’s an idea whose time has come.