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Understanding Data

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Information is the lifeblood of any organisation. However, in most companies,
data and the rules about data that are embedded in applications,
databases and other systems are opaque. Typically these are in
multiple places and often in legacy environments. Moreover, the data
is not isolated. It does not exist in a single place but across a heterogeneous
landscape. This creates difficulties whenever you introduce a
new application, modernise an existing one or migrate from an older
system, because you need to preserve the integrity of the data and its
relationships and rules, not just within the application or database under
consideration but across all of the systems that share that data or
part of that data.

Given this complexity, what sort of technology do you need in order to
ensure that developments, whether new or for replacement purposes,
do not disrupt your existing environment? Moreover, how can you do
that as quickly and efficiently as possible, at a minimal cost? These are
the questions that this paper seeks to answer. In order to investigate
them we will first need to consider the extent of the problem, which
will require something of a history lesson, and then we will discuss
the sort of technical requirements needed to resolve the issues under
discussion. What we will find is that there are different technical
requirements depending upon where you are starting from and where
you want to get to, but we would posit that it makes sense to use an
approach that covers all eventualities. Finally, we will investigate the
products of one company, REVER, and see how they match to the requirements
we have identified.

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