Unlike the simplistic models in books and training courses, a real enterprise has a very complicated data architecture. Most of the data will be held in large legacy or package systems, for which the details of data structure may be unknown. Other data will be held in spreadsheets and personal databases (such as
Microsoft Access), and may be invisible to the IT department or senior business data administrators. Some key data may reside in external systems maintained by service providers or business partners. To manage this you need powerful, simple, but effective models of the data structure from an enterprise viewpoint
— a set of models known as the “Enterprise Data Architecture.”
This article, co-written by Richard Wiggins and originally published in the Rational Edge in February 2003 describes a new approach, based on UML, which meets the real requirements of modelling the Enterprise Data Architecture.