Blogger: Lyn Robison
In my previous post, I talked about the value of logical data modeling. But what do you do if a big portion of your data model is locked inside COTS or SaaS applications?
Many enterprise applications are tightly coupled with their data. Valuable information is often trapped inside enterprise applications. This is unfortunate because to maximize their value, applications and information are best managed separately.
The fist step to liberating enterprise information from the grip of applications is to model that information at a logical level, even if – especially if – it is buried inside of enterprise applications.
Application vendors could do a lot more than they are doing to help you create logical models of the information that they hold. I will present more on this topic at Catalyst in June, but it turns out that some SaaS vendors are doing more to make their information readily available to you than COTS vendors are.
You might think that you can get at the information more readily from COTS applications then you can from SaaS applications. After all, COTS applications store their data inside the walls of your enterprise and SaaS applications store data outside the walls of your enterprise in their own data centers. But the truth may surprise you.
Some prominent SaaS vendors offer APIs for accessing your information directly, outside of the application. Through these APIs, SaaS vendors are in essence publishing a logical data model. The data model is probably incomplete, and must be inferred from the API, but at least it is there.
The majority of COTS vendors provide absolutely nothing for you in terms of a logical data model. With a typical COTS application, you have to try to infer the logical data model from the database schema, from data entry screens, and from reports. Not an easy task. Progressive COTS vendors will provide a service-based data access layer for their applications, but those vendors are few and far between.
Logical data modeling can be messy and difficult to do, and the reward is the ability to decouple your information from your enterprise applications so you can manage them separately and optimize them both. Application vendors could help you do this. Through my Catalyst talk and through reports that I will publish in the coming months, I will try to talk application vendors into making logical data modeling easier for you to do.