Metadata describes data, what happens to it, and its use separate from data content (the data representation itself). The purpose of metadata is to provide information about data and its processing. Metadata falls into three specific categories:
- Business metadata – establishes the definition and rules for business data elements and produces a directory or glossary of business data for people to use to identify the trustworthy data they need for their application UI, reports, dashboards, queries, and analytics;
- Operational metadata – records the lineage, quantity, performance/time to complete, and more for data during its journey from source systems of record to its placement in a trustworthy data repository to its presentation in a data use scenario UI, report, dashboard, query, or analytic;
- Technical metadata – used by IT to monitor and manage the technical architecture that supports the data and analytics environment and proactively avoid performance and capacity problems that can impact business users.
Metadata management is the process and framework for defining, creating, controlling, and managing metadata to serve these purposes. Management of the metadata management process belongs to the data governance program.