Welcome!

XML Authors: Liz McMillan, Anne Buff, Carmen Gonzalez, Paige Leidig, Sanjeev Sharma

Related Topics: XML

XML: Article

The Importance of Information Asset Governance

The Importance of Information Asset Governance

The greatest benefit of XML lies in its potential for managing "islands of data" locked into proprietary tools, systems, applications, and technologies through the use of a common data format that's understandable to any process and system that use it for data representation, data exchange, and application integration. In fact, if XML doesn't achieve this potential, there is little point in using it at all.

Following a trend all too familiar to the IT industry, XML is being seen as a silver bullet that will magically solve all the problems of data integrity, instantly remove islands of data, and disentangle the spaghetti of data interfaces across the enterprise. Typically, those who have willingly embraced this "Next Big Thing" approach will be sadly disappointed, and another real opportunity to move forward could be lost.

XML's greatest strength is also its biggest weakness. It is so flexible that different vocabularies and structures can be written to define the same type of data. Left unchecked, this can lead to a confused set of fragmented, point-to-point XML formats that simply move the problems of data islands and integration around, instead of actually addressing them. Evidence from early (and very expensive) XML implementations confirms this problem. Many software vendors are implementing proprietary layers of XML that can give the appearance of providing a common format for data exchange, but in fact are designed to lock users into proprietary platforms. As a result, eXtensible Markup Language is fast becoming the "eXtensively Misused Language."

XML will only succeed when businesses truly embrace the principles of openness, transparency, and reusability that XML can support. This will require moving away from point-to-point negotiations for exchanging data toward an agreement on standard ways of defining and expressing XML vocabularies, and on common guidelines for the implementation and ongoing use of these standards.

The Need for an XML Clearinghouse
The effective application of XML to overcome the "islands of data" problem requires proper implementation strategies to ensure consistent exchange and reuse of information assets using XML. All projects using XML should have uniform access to appropriate XML documents and their related metadata, which can be only be achieved through the development and deployment of an XML Clearinghouse (also known as XML registry and repository) for the enterprise that provides a single location to store and manage the common XML standards and vocabularies used in the enterprise.

An enterprise XML Clearinghouse allows users to:
1.   Discover and use pertinent XML components in the enterprise
2.   Register additional XML components that can be reused (e.g., projects, applications) by other projects within the enterprise

What is an XML Clearinghouse?
An XML Clearinghouse is a software model that consists of two key components:
1.   Registry: Stores relevant descriptive information, or metadata, about registered information components and their associated objects, and allows the metadata to be operated on in various ways.
2.   Repository: Stores the registered information components and their associates. It also provides interfaces to retrieve and use registered information components and associated objects.

Registered information components and their associated objects provide users with the information necessary to effectively use them. The key information components registered in the Clearinghouse are the XML Schemas and XML DTDs that can be reused within the enterprise by XML developers, projects, applications, etc. Other information components may also be registered.

Examples of associated objects of registered information components include:

  • XML documents
  • XML specifications
  • XML specifications usage
  • UML models
  • Other projects that use the information components and the implementation details
  • XML design and implementation guidelines
  • Usage conflicts and collisions, including details of their resolution
  • Business process descriptions
  • Trading partner agreements
The relationship between an XML registry and an XML repository is shown in Figure 1.

The XML Clearinghouse can store different XML-specific files: XML, XSL, XSLT, XSD, and many others from the XML family. The main goal of the registry and repository is to share XML vocabularies between interested parties so they can discover and understand each other's vocabulary. The XML Clearinghouse ensures consistency, quality, and compatibility among XML projects within the enterprise and also helps to ensure that the XML standards used are controlled and monitored effectively.

Using the XML Clearinghouse
The following step by step example illustrates how the XML Clearinghouse works:

  • Project A of an enterprise develops an XML vocabulary (DTD or Schema) for structuring the customer name and address data that it uses.
  • Project A registers the vocabulary (information component) with other appropriate and relevant information (associated objects) as needed, such as description of the vocabulary, implementation guidelines, and so on, with the registry of its enterprise's XML Clearinghouse.
  • Project A wants to communicate with Project B by submitting name and address data electronically as XML documents that are validated against the registered XML vocabulary. Instead of writing its own XML vocabulary for name and address data, Project B should seek to use an XML vocabulary that has already been registered with the XML Clearinghouse of its enterprise for structuring their submission, as per the policy implemented by the enterprise.
  • Project B then searches the registry of the XML Clearinghouse for vocabularies that are designed for name and address data, to see how they have been used by other projects, and in particular to verify what has been adopted by Project A, and selects and downloads the proper vocabulary.

    Note that the registry should also provide facilities to store multiple versions of the same XML vocabulary. However, it is up to each project to decide which versions of the XML vocabulary it will support.

    Figure 2 shows how an XML developer can hypothetically use an XML Clearinghouse in a government environment consisting of many agencies and business units.

    Benefits of an XML Clearinghouse
    The XML Clearinghouse is an essential part of the infrastructure that supports the reuse of common information components across business applications. It has four main benefits:
    1.   Helps protect enterprise information assets: The information assets represented in the form of XML Schemas and DTDs that are commonly and consistently used across the enterprise are preserved, maintained, and protected from being locked into proprietary or custom-built applications that result in new data islands.
    2.   Promotes cross-project activities: The XML Clearinghouse stores information on the use of the XML Schemas and DTDs by different projects, which gives projects insight into XML-related activities and provides opportunities for collaboration.
    3.   Promotes a common understanding of information components: Storing the information models and metadata for subject areas (such as customer, product, etc.) as XML Schema in a single location promotes a common understanding of the purpose of the registered information components.
    4.   Facilitates B2B communication: External business partners can access the XML Clearinghouse so they can exchange data with the enterprise in the same standard ways used by internal business systems. This can expedite B2B communication and greatly reduces the cost of supporting it.

    The main thrust of the XML Standards Clearinghouse work is to provide visibility and awareness of XML data elements in use within various functional areas across an enterprise. This awareness is important to application integrators and system interfaces.

    Use of an XML Clearinghouse needs governance
    Despite the benefits of having an XML Clearinghouse for an enterprise, if the XML Clearinghouse were left uncontrolled, every point-to-point XML vocabulary would be registered, each reflecting the narrow interests of application areas. This would result in the proliferation of many diverse data formats within an enterprise to represent the same piece of data. New data islands of information would be created, resulting in new and expensive one-off formatting problems. This would seriously threaten the credibility and integrity of the XML Clearinghouse and defeat the purpose of using XML in the first place.

    An XML Clearinghouse will only be effective if policies are set, usage guidelines established, and a management and funding process put in place for effective operation. Policies and procedures should include:

  • Registration procedures for new XML components
  • Verification procedures for input to the registry
  • The extent to which developers will be required to consult the standards registry when deploying XML data structures
  • Classes of compliance for categorizing how rigorously projects within the enterprise adhere to standard data structures and definitions
  • A configuration management process to keep track of successive versions of each registered component

    Benefits of a governance model
    The benefits of a governance model to manage XML Clearinghouse use in an enterprise are numerous. Some of the key benefits are listed below:

  • Facilitates the convergence of standards within an enterprise, and reduces the costly divergence and fragmentation of XML used by different business units/projects.
  • Supports the management and control of the information assets of an enterprise by ensuring consistency, quality, and compatibility of the information assets used across the enterprise.
  • Enables an enterprise to track and monitor the progress of different XML projects, thereby avoiding duplication, conflicts, and inconsistency in the XML initiatives.
  • Provides a set of guidelines, policies, and procedures for implementing XML standards in an enterprise. This will provide a common understanding of data and a standard way of implementing XML that will enable the interoperability of information and business processes.
  • Enables an enterprise to monitor the evolution of the XML standards at national and international levels.
  • Resolves conflicts between different projects within the enterprise regarding the definition, creation, usage, and implementation of XML standards.

    Potential XML-Related Work in an Enterprise and the Importance of Governance
    This section describes the different types of XML-related work experienced implementing XML strategies for enterprises and the importance of governance for such projects.

    Projects that use existing XML standards
    Projects could be using existing industry XML standards. It's therefore important for the enterprise to monitor and govern this type of project for the following reasons:

  • Several projects in an enterprise could be planning to use the same XML standard, which could result in duplication of effort in evaluation and implementation.
  • A single mechanism should monitor the changes in industry standards on behalf of the enterprise and document how to apply any changes within applications.
  • It's important to have a common agreement on which XML standards will be adopted, since there could be many flavors of similar standards.
  • It's important to have a common agreement on how XML standards are implemented since an XML standard could be implemented in different ways and still meet its purpose.

    Projects that need to extend or develop XML standards
    There will be situations where existing industry XML standards don't meet the requirements of a project. In such circumstances the project may decide to cover identified gaps by extending existing standards, or by developing a new standard. It's important for an enterprise to monitor and govern this activity in order to:

  • Produce a common set of guidelines for adopting, changing, or building XML standards. This will encourage interoperability and foster a common understanding and use of the standards in an enterprise.
  • Ensure that effort is not duplicated where two projects share the same requirements.
  • Encourage projects with similar requirements to collaborate to extend or build common standards that meet all requirements, thereby producing more robust XML standards and fostering interoperability and common understanding.
  • Minimize the impacts that changes to existing enterprise XML standards might have on projects and business applications.

    Developing enterprise XML standards Projects in an enterprise may be building an enterprise XML standard for a subject area not addressed by existing standards, and the enterprise must govern this type of activity. It's important to:

  • Gather all inputs and requirements in a central place in order to expedite consensus across business units about the development and deployment of XML standards
  • Enable different projects to communicate using a common language when developing or adopting XML standards
  • Coordinate the enterprise XML standards initiative to avoid version control problems, conflicts and collisions, confusion, and misunderstandings about developing and deploying XML standards

    Turn locally developed XML into open industry standards
    There may be times when an enterprise decides to submit an XML standard it has developed to a global XML standards body or a local (e.g., national) standards body to ratify it as an "open" XML standard. For example, our organization submitted three XML standards for customer information management to OASIS to develop and promote them as open industry standards free of royalty and IP issues:

    • NAML: Name and Address Markup Language
    • CIML: Customer Identity Markup Language
    • CRML: Customer Relationships Markup Language
    This has resulted in five open industry standards under the control of the OASIS Customer Information Quality Technical Committee:
    • xNL: Extensible Name Language
    • xAL: Extensible Address Language
    • xNAL: Extensible Name and Address Language
    • xCIL: Extensible Customer Information Language
    • xCRL: Extensible Customer Relationships Language
    It's important for an enterprise to monitor and govern this type of activity in order to:
  • Ensure that the enterprise's interests are strongly and accurately represented at the global or local XML standards level when modifications and extensions to the standards are being considered
  • Position the enterprise as a world leader in the development of global XML standards for industry (this requires active sponsorship by the enterprise)
  • Ensure that changes and extensions ratified by the global or local XML standards body to standards submitted by the enterprise are reflected in their deployment within the enterprise

    The XML Standards Governance model will enable enterprises to form closer relationships with global/local standards bodies and provides the opportunity to establish business relationships with other organizations involved in the standards initiative and those who are using the standards.

    Conclusion
    XML allows the specification of an arbitrary set of nonbinary tags for representing information components. This offers an open, independent, and low-cost platform for representing information for a multitude of purposes. However, left uncontrolled, the introduction of XML results in the proliferation of many diverse data formats that represent the same piece of information. This would create new islands of information and result in a new version of the expensive one-off formatting problems that most enterprises are looking to solve.

    Information components can be shared, exchanged, and reused through the deployment of an XML Clearinghouse for the enterprise that provides a single, common, sharable location to store and manage the XML standards and vocabularies used in the enterprise. However, the technical solutions used to implement an effective XML strategy need to be managed properly. It is therefore important for an enterprise to establish an XML Standards Governance Model for the XML Clearinghouse to oversee the effective development and deployment of an integrated set of XML standards to represent, share, and exchange enterprise information components.

    References

  • Ferguson, R. (2002). "XML: Plugging into 'standard' hybrids." eWEEK. January.
  • Kumar, R. (2002). "XML Standards for Global Customer Information Management." DM Review. Volume 12, Number 5.
  • ebXML: www.ebxml.org
  • Challenges of effective adoption of the Extensible Markup Language. (2002). GAO Report to the U.S. Government. April.
  • OASIS Customer Information Quality Technical Committee: www.oasis-open.org/committees/ciq
  • Comments (0)

    Share your thoughts on this story.

    Add your comment
    You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

    In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


    @ThingsExpo Stories
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Harbinger Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Harbinger Systems is a global company providing software technology services. Since 1990, Harbinger has developed a strong customer base worldwide. Its customers include software product companies ranging from hi-tech start-ups in Silicon Valley to leading product companies in the US and large in-house IT organizations.
    SYS-CON Events announces a new pavilion on the Cloud Expo floor where WebRTC converges with the Internet of Things. Pavilion will showcase WebRTC and the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices--computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
    The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Whether public, private, or in a hybrid form, clo...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridsto...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
    As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP’s Printing and Personal Systems Group, will discuss how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, senso...
    The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
    Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics...
    Internet of @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley announced on Thursday its first 12 all-star speakers and sessions for its upcoming event, which will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. @ThingsExpo, the first and largest IoT event in the world, debuted at the Javits Center in New York City in June 10-12, 2014 with over 6,000 delegates attending the conference. Among the first 12 announced world class speakers, IBM will present two highly popular IoT sessions, which will take place November 4-6, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif...
    The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., will show what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He will discuss opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and tec...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that TeleStax, the main sponsor of Mobicents, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TeleStax provides Open Source Communications software and services that facilitate the shift from legacy SS7 based IN networks to IP based LTE and IMS networks hosted on private (on-premise), hybrid or public clouds. TeleStax products include Restcomm, JSLEE, SMSC Gateway, USSD Gateway, SS7 Resource Adaptors, SIP Servlets, Rich Multimedia Services, Presence Services/RCS, Diame...
    From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue business and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.
    The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.
    The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
    As a disruptive technology, Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC), which is an emerging standard of web communications, is redefining how brands and consumers communicate in real time. The on-going narrative around WebRTC has largely been around incorporating video, audio and chat functions to apps. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Alex Gouaillard, Founder and CTO of Temasys Communications, will look at a fourth element – data channels – and talk about its potential to move WebRTC beyond browsers and into the Internet of Things.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Gigaom Research has been named "Media Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, will also lead a Power Panel on the topic "Choosing the Right Cloud Option." Gigaom Research provides timely, in-depth analysis of emerging technologies for individual and corporate subscribers. Gigaom Research's network of 200+ independent analysts provides new content daily that bridges the gap between break...
    We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
    The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.