On the Radar: 14 Metadata Vendors To Watch Now
Before you can turn your big data set into something of tangible value through SQL analytics or machine learning, you need to get a firm handle on it. That is not always easy, and is often the crux of the big data problem itself. In its latest report on metadata management, Gartner delves into the issue at play and the 14 vendors setting the pace in this increasingly important field.
Practitioners of big data analytics would do well to check out Gartner‘s latest Magic Quadrant of Metadata Management. While the term “metadata management” may carry echoes of old-school business intelligence initiatives, Gartner uses the category a catch-all for many of the individual tool categories – including data governance and cataloging, which we’ve added to our 2017 Datanami Reader’s Choice Awards — that are emerging as critical to big data analytic initiatives.
As Gartner analysts Guido De Simoni and Roxane Edjlali state in their August 10 report, metadata management “builds the foundations for describing, inventorying, and understanding data for multiple use cases such as information governance or analytics.”
Basically, if you don’t know what data you have, where it’s stored, how you got it, who has access to it, how you’re using it, and how it’s changing, then the odds of successfully leveraging that data for some useful end – be it improving sales margins, optimizing product recommendations, or detecting financial fraud – are not good. When you factor in the looming GDPR deadline driving compliance initiatives and the ongoing crises around data breaches, it’s clear that that metadata is (or should be) playing an increasingly large role in organization’s data initiatives.
Metadata is key because it gives organizations a lever to manage the terabytes or petabytes of actual data that they want to analyze. That’s why Gartner is now devoting resources to tracking the vendors and tools that make up the market.
Gartner published its first Magic Quadrant for Metadata Management Solutions in 2016 with nine vendors. In looking at the 2017 report, it’s interesting to note how things have changed. For starters, there are five additional vendors, bringing the total to 14.
But one thing that hasn’t changed is Informatica‘s dominance of the market. The company owns, far and away, the best piece of real-estate in the quadrant itself – farther up and farther to the right than any other vendor, indicating its superior vision and ability to execute, at least in Gartner’s eyes.
In 2016, Informatica was joined by IBM, Collibra, and Adaptive in the Leader’s quadrant. This year, the Leader’s quadrant gets a bit busier, with Alation, Oracle, Smartlogic, and Datum joining the ranks, while Adaptive fell to the Visionaries quadrant. A total of 14 vendors made the cut for this year’s quadrant.
Joining Adaptive in the Visionaries quadrant is Global IDs (which occupied the same spot in 2016); SAP, which moved from the Challengers quadrant in 2016; and Australian firm Alex Solutions, which debuts here. Data Advantage Group reprises its 2016 role as a Challenger, while Cambridge Semantics and Infogix are listed as Niche Players.
The metadata management market is growing quickly, and is expected to continue growing in the near future. In its 2016 report, Gartner predicted that the field would double in size in 2017, from about $170 million to about $340 million this year. The analyst group didn’t tell us how it fared with that prediction, except to say that the market “has shown significant growth during 2017 and the growth will continue with pace in 2018.”
Just as data itself continues to change and evolve, so too is the metadata market. Some product trends noted by Gartner include an expansion of the types of metadata supported, as well as automated enrichment of metadata through machine learning, crowdsourcing, search capabilities, and other processes.
Semantic data tools, such as entity relationship (ER) models and modeling languages like Resource Description Framework (RDF) also play heavily in the metadata management field, and Gartner sees “formal ontologies” improving interoperability. Garter also highlighted cross-domain sharing of metadata as a trend, as well as the rise of self-service data preparation (which Datanami considers a separate category) as impacting the overall metadata management tool market.
There are clearly benefits from using metadata management tools. If you need to get a handle on your data, then a good place to start is finding ways to wrangle the metadata that describes it. In fact, Gartner estimates that, by 2020, 50% of information governance initiatives will be enacted with policies based on metadata alone. That’s something worth considering as you map out your big data analytics and AI initiatives.
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