Managing external identifiers


Every open metadata instance has a unique identifier called the Global Unique Identifier or GUID for short. This provides a means to locate and retrieve the instance from the metadata repository. However, often the GUID is not known in the systems and tools that integrate with open metadata. Metadata instances that inherit from the Referenceable type have a property called qualifiedName. This is a unique name for the referenceable instance. When such an instance is created, the qualified name can be set up to a unique identifier that is a natural unique name for the resource that it represents (such as the full path name of a file) or a unique identifier from an external tool. The element can then be retrieved using the qualifiedName.

Now consider the situation where each external tool that uses the instance has a different identifier for the instance. There is only one qualified name property in the instance which will not be able to cover all of the identifiers from the external systems/tools.

Using External Identifiers

In this situation it is possible to set up multiple External Identifiers for an open metadata instance. Each external identifier is linked to the open metadata instance it represents and the software server capability of the external system/tool that uses it. You can think of this link to the software server capability as providing a scope in which the external identifier is valid.

The external identifiers can support both one-to-many, many-to-one and many-to-many between metadata elements from external systems/tools and open metadata instances.

Figure 1 shows a situation where an external tool call myCatalog uses two metadata elements: one of type BusinessTerm and the other of type Example, to represent all of the properties that are stored in one open metadata GlossaryTerm. To represent this in open metadata, the unique identifiers for the business term and example metadata elements (gt1 and ex6 respectively) are each stored in their own external identifier that is linked to both the myCatalog’s software server capability and the corresponding open metadata glossary term. This means the glossary term can be located in an open metadata repository either using the identifier gt1 or ex6. Similarly, it is possible to locate a glossary term’s properties in myCatalog by looking up both the gt1 and ex6 elements.

Figure 1

Figure 1: Many external metadata elements mapping to one open metadata instance

Figure 2 shows the opposite situation where it takes multiple open metadata instances to represent a single metadata element in an external system/tool. In this example the external system/tool directly links its Database elements to its Table elements. Whereas in the open metadata types, there is a SchemaType (specifically RelationalDBSchemaType) between a DeployedDatabaseSchema instance and the RelationalTable instance.

Again an external identifier is created for each of the external metadata elements and this is linked to the software server capability for myCatalog. Each external identifier is then linked to each of the open metadata instances that have properties that map to its equivalent metadata element in the external system/tool.

Figure 2

Figure 2: One external metadata element mapping to many open metadata instances

The use of external identifiers is particularly important to the integration connectors running in the Open Metadata Integration Services (OMIS) where the ability to maintain consistent metadata stores in both open metadata and third party systems and tools is important.

Open metadata types for

The open metadata types for external identifier are in model 0017. The ExternalIdLink relationship is between the external identifier and the open metadata instance it represents. The ExternalIdScope is the relationship between the external identifier and the software server capability that represents the external system/tool.

Implementations of external identifiers

The Asset Manager OMAS provides support for external identifier mapping on its APIs. This capability is visible through the Catalog Integrator OMIS and the Lineage Integrator OMIS that are based on the Asset Manager OMAS client.

The Open Connector Framework (OCF) provides the ability to query the external identifiers attached to an asset through the Connected Asset Properties. This is also visible through the AssetUniverse interfaces of the: Asset Consumer OMAS. Asset Owner OMAS and Discovery Engine OMAS interfaces.

License: CC BY 4.0, Copyright Contributors to the Egeria project.