Metadata is commonly defined as 'data about data'. It includes information about the business usage of the data, about the population and storage of the data and the interrelations, and about people who own and manage the data.

Metadata can be broadly classified into the following categories:

• Business metadata which includes
   o Business attribute definitions
    o Business rules and transformations used to populate the business attribute
    o System of record and the source attributes
    o Data lineage including all intermediate data points
    o Valid values and their definitions
• Technical metadata which includes
    o Databases, reports, table name, column name
    o Names of jobs and applications producing and consuming the data
    o Data types, nullability, primary keys, foreign keys, indices, etc
• Operational Metadata which includes
    o Audit controls and balancing information
    o Exceptions and errors
    o Data refresh time and schedule
    o Data backup and recovery schedule
• Organizational metadata which includes
    o Business and IT owners
    o Data Stewards

This information is scattered throughout the enterprise and is not accessible. A metadata management solution facilitates the collection, dissemination, and management of metadata. Metadata management like most Data Management disciplines requires support, and commitment from corporate leadership. It requires the definition of a robust process and organization structure to make it happen. It is usually implemented along with or after a Data Governance program.

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