Book Review by Judith Newton

Published: October 1, 2007

Data Interoperability Community of Interest Handbook by Michael M. Gorman provides a road map for enterprises as they organize communities of interest for the purpose of achieving data interoperability. Written as a product of work sponsored by the U.S. Army, it reflects on that experience coupled with the author's extensive background with the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) to develop a process for interoperability at both the micro and macro levels.

Modern enterprises are composed of many communities of interest. To interact most efficiently to achieve the goals of the enterprise requires a set of commonly agreed-upon procedures and systems that exchange semantically meaningful data. A data interoperability program establishes standards, which must harmonize across all subgroups' systems to avoid and ameliorate the stovepipes so common to the stand-alone systems of the past. The information exchange data model, described in the book, is the cornerstone of a data interoperability program.

Shared policies and procedures are manifest in metadata; therefore, detailed exploration of how metadata relates to the interoperability of systems is relevant here. The metadata infrastructure, both objects and models, required to achieve this is described in terms both broad and deep. In the course of this discussion, ISO 11179 (Metadata Registries) is referred to as if the reader is already familiar with its contents. Later in the book, the same treatment is accorded to the ANSI SQL standard. No full citation is provided for either, nor is a list of references included. This is a serious omission in a book intended for general distribution.

For process, a discussion of business events benefits from the author's long experience on INCITS committees. He details the minutiae of subgroup establishment through descriptions of work products, business functions, officer duties, process management, the functions of Interoperability Standards Development, subgroup establishment, and position descriptions for members of the data interoperability program.

The same exhaustive treatment is given to the documents that these groups produce. The projects and rules chapters round out the festival of bureaucracy celebrated in the latter part of this book. These topics, also, are covered (as John Zachman would say), "to an excruciating level of detail."

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