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Enterprise Integration and Modeling: The Metadatabase Approach

Preface

From as long ago as we humans can remember, an organization is always striving to work like one person; that is, breaking down the barriers of division within the organization and integrate them like an one person enterprise. However, history-proven formula for achieving this integration of many persons into one enterprise is, precisely, the creation of divisions (of labor) to divide and conquer the job. This ironical cycle is rooted simply in the means that enterprises use to communicate and coordinate - the traditional means for organizing resources are inherently rigid to be changed frequently, therefore the facilitator becomes the prohibitor of integration when the (original) premises of organization change. This cycle can be broken only when new means are invented, employed and deployed. The new means today is the enterprise level information technology. It is invented; but has only now started to be employed and deployed to bring about the new age of integrated enterprises that promises new levels of value, service, and productivity. Recent models such as Agile Manufacturing, Networked Corporation, and Enterprise Re-Engineering can all be understood from this perspective. More efforts on all fronts, including managerial and technical, are needed before the new information technology can really work for the enterprises and the society. We present a particular such effort in this book.

The Metadatabase model of enterprise information integration (for multiple systems) is developed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute under the sponsorships of Alcoa, Digital, GE, GM, and IBM (from 1986 to 1995 through the Computer-Integrated Manufacturing and the Adaptive Integrated Manufacturing Enterprises programs), the National Science Foundation (since 1991), Samsung (since 1995), and US. Army (since 1995). The technology is being developed into a product for Samsung and Army. This is the first exposition book on the topic.

There are two types of readers that I keep in mind when preparing the book: those who have an interest in the Metadatabase model as an integration technology, and those who also want a general discussion on information system analysis and design with applications in manufacturing. Therefore, a general conceptual framework of enterprise integration and modeling is provided in the first chapter, and is used to tie together all of the remaining chapters of the book. The next two chapters present some basics and examples of systems analysis and design for enterprise modeling; which serve the purposes of general discussion on the subject as well as illustrating the modeling methods particular to the Metadatabase approach. The particular methods are discussed fully in chapter 4. An overview of the Metadatabase Model is provided in chapter 5 and illustrated with a "paper demonstration" of a basic metadatabase prototype (for CIM) in chapter 6. The main technical elements of the model are presented in chapters 7, 8, and 9. The model is then applied to manufacturing in chapter 10, where a core information model for implementing the Metadatabase approach to integration is also included. Chapter 11 extends the Metadatabase technology into the realm of information visualization. The new user interface model developed can be applied to integrate the traditional enterprise information management with new cyberspace applications such as electronic commerce. This book provides a reference for Enterprise Integration and Modeling. It can also be used as a primary reading for an advanced topics course on Database, or as a supplemental text for Manufacturing Information Systems, Systems Analysis, and Database Design courses.

Many colleagues have contributed to the Metadatabase research over the past nine years or so. They are really the co-authors of this book. I would like to recognize especially the following friends who have developed or are in the process of developing a dissertation with me on the topic at Rensselaer:

Dr. Laurie Rattner Schatzburg, Assistant Professor, University of New Mexico Dr. M'hamed Bouziane, R&O Software Technik, Gmbh Dr. Waiman Cheung, Lecturer, Chinese University of Hong Kong Dr. Gilbert Babin, Assistant Professor, Laval University Dr. Lester Yee, Lecturer, Hong Kong University Mr. Yicheng Tao, a doctoral student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Mr. Jangha Cho, a doctoral student at Rensselaer Polytechnic institute

Their particular contributions, along with those of others, are acknowledged at the end of individual chapters. Furthermore, Drs. Cheung, Babin, and Yee have co-authored with me for Chapters 8, 9, and 11, respectively. In addition, Mr. Otto Schaefer, Mr. Alvaro Perry, Mr. Javier Nogues, and Mr. Jingsong Mao have also written master-level theses that made significant contributions to the research.

I also owe many thanks to another able doctoral student at Rensselaer, Mr. Somendra Pant. Somendra's skills in word processing and care to details have made this book project possible. I'm deeply indebted to his tireless help. Although I have tried to recognize all colleagues participated , in the end-of-chapter acknowledgments, I cannot individually express my gratitude to everyone who deserve it dearly. I wish to extend my sincere appreciation to all of my friends and colleagues whose friendship, collaboration, and encouragement sustained me through these years.

 

 

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