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Data Terms Glossary

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Metadata Lineage

Metadata lineage is tracking the path of data as it moves through your systems by using the information that your systems generate whenever a change happens to the data in question.

This information about a data asset (called metadata) includes things like:

  • name of asset creator
  • definition of the asset
  • units of measurement used
  • method of computation
  • process by which data was obtained
  • dimensions, color, compression (for images)
  • who is allowed to see or use this data asset
  • limitations on or stipulations about the data asset

When data is transferred, transformed or processed, some of the metadata will change (e.g. “date last modified”).

An automated data lineage tool can construct a detailed picture of any data point’s journey by reading the metadata left as road markers. Metadata lineage tools can follow the data’s path through your data environment from source to target, from table to table and from column to column, seeing everything that happened to it along the way. Metadata points the way to identifying data dependencies or redundancies.

The products of data lineage and metadata – reports, visualizations, metadata catalog entries and more – provide visibility into your data environment and data flow. Metadata lineage reports aid in root cause analysis, impact analysis, compliance and a whole host of other use cases. 

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