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The Art of Data Modeling – what a IT manager, Project Manager and CIO should know…

Ok, this may appear to be some geek blog about the architecture of relational databases. Or you may pass up this blog for fear of not understanding the terminology geeks tend to push in their blogs. But the term data modeling is something any IT manager/CIO should seriously add to their vocabulary. Especially if you have not come up through the geek ranks of your IT department or you have been in IT management since writing COBOL programs and have little technical knowledge of relational databases.

Data Modeling is the architectural plans for building a relational database. Much like the plans one uses to build a house, the same goes for building a relational database. This is a skill set often missed by IT departments when putting together an in-house development project team. Many worry about project management skills, technical talent, etc. But often the art of Data Modeling (and it is an art) is missed.

I can spend the next few paragraphs talking about Data Modeling but I am not going to repeat what a number of excellent books can offer. If your next development project is using tools like vb.net, open source tools, oracle, or a number of other relational database tools, then the question you need to ask is anyone on the team experienced in data modeling. If not, the project is in for a rough ride.

The key to building any system using a relational database is access to the data. I don’t care if the data is being access by the pc, web, iphone, cell phone, black berry, or a wigi board, if you can’t access the data from the database then the system will fail in its development and it will fail in its use. As goes the database, so goes the entire IT project. It is all about the data.

So when talking about SOA, web 2.0, and all the other cool things that the web and new technologies can bring, the simple task of building the database to feed into these new technologies is vital. So next time, please take time, to ask “Does anyone have Data Modeling experience?”

Books I recommend for building data model skills:

“Conventions of Thought” by David C. Hay
ISBN-13: 978-0932633293

“Data Model Resource Book: Universal Patterns for Data Modeling” by Len Silverston and Paul Agnew
ISBN-13: 978-0470178454

A good starter book for learning database design:

“Database Design for Mere Mortals” by Michael J. Hernandez
ISBN-13: 978-0201752847

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