Operational Metadata are metadata about operational data. Metadata is basically a kind of data that describes another data, content item or another collection of data which includes multiple content items. Its main purpose is to facilitate better understanding, use and management of data.
The use and requirement of metadata varied depending on the context where it is being used. For example, when metadata are employed in a library information system, the metadata that will be used would be about description of book contents, title, data of publication, location of the book on the shelf and other related information. If metadata are to be employed in a photography system, the metadata to use would involve information about cameras, camera brand, camera models and other.
When used with an information system, the metadata to be used would involve data files, name of the field, length, date of creation, owner of the file and other related information about the data.
Metadata describe operational data which are subject-oriented, integrated, time-current, volatile collection of data that support an organization’s daily business activities and outputs of the operational data stores.
They are just as important as the operation data itself because an enterprise information and data management system can be greatly enhanced in efficiency when operational metadata are being employed.
Let us take an example with an enterprise resource planning (ERP). Metadata greatly helps in building a data warehouse in an ERP environment. An enterprise data management system involves Decision Support Systems (DSS) metadata, operational metadata and data warehouse metadata. The DSS metadata is primarily used by data end users. The data warehouse metadata is primarily used for archiving data in the data warehouse. The operational metadata is primarily for use by developers and programmers.
Since operational metadata describe operation data, they are also very dynamic in nature. Since operational data are data that are currently in use by the businesses, they are constantly changing as long as transactions are happening and even beyond such as during inventories. As such, new transactional data are added and removed any given time and the operational metadata needs to catch up with these changes.
For example, in a banking environment, large banks handle thousands of individual accounts and at any given moments, some of these accounts may change to some degree. In order to manage these changes, a complex array of data needs to be handled and processed in the operational data store and the management is made simple and more efficient with the help of operational metadata.
The dynamic nature of operational data needs special mechanisms to quickly handle data such as finding objects, entities and resources and ignoring other like using metadata in order to optimize compression algorithms or performing additional computations with the use of data. Operational metadata include the operational database’s names of table, columns, programs and other related items. Operational metadata describe all aspects of the current operation like data, activities, people and organizations involved, locations of data and processes, access methods, limitations, timing and events, as well as motivation and rules.
Today, there are many vendors that offer many implementations of operational metadata in relation to a data warehouse as well as the general setup of an enterprise data management system. Many software implementations of operational metadata help provide business as well as technical users better control when accessing and exploring metadata in all other aspects of the business operation and its IT implementation. Some software applications can even help depict visually the interrelationships of data sources and users and provide data consumers with data linkage back to the system source.