Moya Brannan and Mandy Chessell DTX 2019 Interview
NATALIE TURNER [00:00:13] Hello and welcome back to day one of the Digital Transformation Expo. You’re with me Natalie Turner from Disruptive Live. And today, I’m joined by two lovely ladies from IBM. However, they are here to talk about the Egeria Project. So we have Mandy and Moya. How are you ladies today?
MANDY CHESSELL [00:00:28] I’m fine thanks
MOYA BRANNAN [00:00:29] Hello
NATALIE TURNER [00:00:30] Fantastic. Could you both tell me a little bit about yourselves, your roles and the Egeria Project itself?
MANDY CHESSELL [00:00:37] So my name’s Mandy Chessell. I’m a Distinguished Engineer at IBM. That’s my official title. But my day job, what I spend all my time doing is actually leading an open source project called ODPI Egeria and its job is to start to link together all the tools from different vendors that organisations have. They make it so hard for them to understand their data and manage and use it effectively.
NATALIE TURNER [00:00:51] Fantastic
MOYA BRANNAN [00:01:02] Hi, I’m Moya Brannan, and again, I’m IBM, I’m an Executive Application Architect and I’m on I suppose a secondment or whatever, within Mandy’s team working on Egeria. So we’re both working as open source contributors to the project and that’s effectively my full time job now, which is a fabulous thing to have.
NATALIE TURNER [00:01:25] Fantastic. It would be even better if you guys could go into a little bit more detail about the Egeria Project and why is it open source?
MANDY CHESSELL [00:01:33] Yeah, okay. Yeah I’ll do it. So companies, they want to buy the best tools that they can use in order to work with data, build analytics, you know, sort of find it move it around and things. Each vendor has their own description or metadata repository that describes the data their working with. Each tool has a different view of the data. So what we’re doing is bringing that those views together so that an organisation can buy tools from whoever they want, invest tools in to do with their job. But the knowledge about data can flow between those tools using an open standard that Egeria supports.
MOYA BRANNAN [00:02:16] Yeah.
NATALIE TURNER [00:02:17] Lovely answer.
MOYA BRANNAN [00:02:17] I mean, I mean, for me, it’s quite interesting, I mean, both of us, you know, throughout our career have worked with so many customers and Egeria is quite fabulous. I mean, it is an open standard and existing as an open standard. It’s something that anyone can adopt. And if it’s an interesting one because in IT and the world of IT, there’s always been lots of barriers between applications and data platforms. But Egeria here is an open standard that will give you interoperability between your data sources, applications, processes, so you can make an interactive map effectively or have that sort of interoperability between all your data sources. Allowing you to do things like impact analysis might change something here. How will it reflect over here? What else will it impact? And ultimate lineage analysis from sort of end to end. Where does my data come into the organization and where does it actually reside? And that is so powerful to the organizations we work with and we talk to. But as an open source project, it’s something that is, you know, anyone can contribute to. And we’ve got a number of funded contributors. You know, we started off, I’ll let Mandy talk about this in a minute as she’s been there since day one. And I’ve I’m a fairly recent recent joiner. But, you know, the moment the contributers they sort of start off with ING Bank, there’s IBM there’s SAS Cloud Era and others, individuals who who we have appearing on the ODPI website that we have ODPI is part of Linux Foundation and and and there’s a community driven activity is something that anybody can adopt and bring in so they can actually have this interoperability, all of these capabilities through the metadata layer to enable visibility of where all their metadata assets are, do you want to talk a little bit about where we came from and how it all came together.
MANDY CHESSELL [00:04:10] Well, I mean, it came from working with customers. It’s just so, so many organizations that were struggling to make the best use of their data and analytics. And it was largely down to the way the tools were written. And so we came up with an idea with ING about how could we fix this. And the realisation was well actually we need an open standard for metadata. You start looking at the standard sites. There are thousands of standards of metadata that they each have a tiny part. So Egeria’s built connected all these standards together, so we make good use of the work that’s been done in the standards organization. But turn them into a practical platform that allows us to connect everything together. So it started with IBM and ING and we got together with SAS and Cloud Era and started to build this open platform.
NATALIE TURNER [00:05:03] Fantastic. So what sort of companies need Egeria? And you were mentioning contributors earlier. You know, are you always looking for more?
MANDY CHESSELL [00:05:14] And it’s not just the manpower to determine to actually write more code or to advertise or whatever. It’s actually the ideas so this a very innovative project and the technology we are building is unavailable in any other place, you can’t buy this technology it’s our unique capability but it’s come from that perspective of IBM we know how to build large scalable middleware systems. ING Bank knows how to use data very very effectively and build analytics and ensure that they deliver customer care through their use of data. So those two perspectives mean that the way we built Egeria means it’s very focussed on the real problems, but it has the robustness that you’d expect from an IBM product.
NATALIE TURNER [00:05:59] Is that part of the key message that you’re hoping to get out today at the DTX expo?
MANDY CHESSELL [00:06:06] Part of it that it’s the collaboration that makes the project so good it makes the technology good it makes the capability that we provide and the problems that we are trying to solve so on message for so many organisations.
MOYA BRANNAN [00:06:18] The great thing about open source is it’s driven by the community, it’ss driven by people who want to use the technology and it’s really interesting, the team that we have. You know, everybody on the team, whether they’re independent, they’re from ING, they’re from SAS Cloud Era or IBM, they’ve all got a background pretty much either in code development or analytics. And everything they’re working on is something that is going to help enable them or enable the people they work with move forward with their data. And it’s really interesting. You know, we’ve got quite a few people who’ve got sort of 20, 30 years plus experience of creating software and working in information management. Yet we also got a lot of people who are fairly young in their careers. So it’s all still in their 20s. Quite envious about that. You know, we’ve got quite a few young people. But the team is very diverse, which brings a whole wealth of different experiences and ideas. And it’s diverse, actually, in terms of gender. We’ve got probably a 50/50 split on male and female, which is really unusual. I was is one of the things that was really quite oh my gosh, it’s a really good split. When I joined the team, you think this is really good, but it’s not just the gender that sort of is a big thing. It’s also the age difference. You know, I’m not sure how young the youngest contributor is. But, you know, it’s sort of early 20s and I won’t go to what the upper ages are. But, you know, you’ve got 30 years experience, so they’re a little bit more than their 20s. And again.
MANDY CHESSELL [00:07:51] Many nationalities as well.
MOYA BRANNAN [00:07:51] Many yes.
NATALIE TURNER [00:07:51] That’s nice, it sounds like really inclusive atmosphere.
MOYA BRANNAN [00:07:55] It is. It is. And having all these backgrounds really promotes lots of ideas coming forward. I mean, every week we have two calls a week and we have regular sort of meet ups of the community. They will go on to the GitHub, you know, repository website. And so people can actually sort of see that. And it’s an open invite for people to join if they’re wanting to put forward ideas and they can find that on GitHub where we schedule it. But it helps us come up with things that are going to be really useful to organisations and capabilities. So the things that we’re working on at the moment are things that are going to help people understand their data and be able to make more sense of it through the metadata. Because I mean, like, for example, we you know, we’re here at a conference talking about transformation. Now, if you’re going to transform your company or transform your data assets, you need to understand what you have before you start moving to the desired goal. And if you have a way of being able to understand your data, have a glossary of everything have you know, an asset catalogue then you can understand well these are what the problems are. You know what’s causing it. Where we are, to be able to go to sort of this utopia you’re wanting to go to and be able to sort of work out what is the journey, I know many has more views on this as well. I’ll let you sort of chip as well.
MANDY CHESSELL [00:09:14] In terms of the transformation?
MOYA BRANNAN [00:09:16] Well transformation, I think I think because without the knowledge of where you’ve come from, being able to transform from a point of not knowing, you’ll end up delivering probably what you’ve already got.
NATALIE TURNER [00:09:28] You mentioned areas of disruption as well. I mean what areas could you specify for us.
MANDY CHESSELL [00:09:34] The interesting thing, is that many tools products are sort of divided into different pigeonholes. And this is an analytics tool and this is a data movement tool. And this is this is a tool for managing data quality and this is a tool for doing visualisation of data in different ways, and this is a graph database and each technology is a little island in its own way. And in fact data needs to flow through all of these tools. And so this is what we’re doing we are just breaking down these barriers. So what the developers are building, what goes to the dev ops pipeline what’s then used by the business is understood from end to end and we know where the sensitive data is located, we can make sure it’s being properly managed. The tools that do that management can start reading the metadata and using that metadata to apply appropriate policies to the way the data is being managed. So the way you start to think about the whole of your IT management environment changes once you have the knowledge about the types of data you’re dealing with, where it came from, how reliable it is and the regulations that are around it. As we move it from country to country or from team to team, platform to platform. So this works in a multi cloud environment as well which many organisations now have. So it’s not just their data centres, it’s other people’s data centres that this starts to connect together.
NATALIE TURNER [00:10:59] It’s quite vast isn’t it.
MANDY CHESSELL [00:10:59] It is. It’s a simple idea. It’s that, we don’t have a single database. We enable databases, repositorys for our metadata to talk to one another. So it’s a bit like you take Egeria and you plug it to your product and it acts like a babel fish so it translates your native langauge into the common language and then Egeria provides the ability to flow in around and maintain copies of that data with integrity, the metadata with integrity.
NATALIE TURNER [00:11:07] Fantastic.
MANDY CHESSELL [00:11:35] I’m just gonna add on to that, because when we talk about data and we talk about metadata, you know, typically a lot of people think about data data warehouses, analytics tools transformation tools and it’s not just the whole information management that’s sort of typically filled with data. It also goes outside of that. And, you know, Egerias even, you know, something that we’re working at the moment is the whole sort of dev ops and bringing the metadata definitions that we that we have the business glossary definitions, the asset catalogue and making that available to dev ops tooling as well. And you know, if you have a business glossary that overarches all your your your organization has a definition in there of could be a customer or a sale or whatever it is if you are, for example. I mean, even a simple example, you know, if you’re creating an API, then you need definitions of these things, of what you’re collating as data and to be able to take those definitions out of a business glossary and integrate them with smagger. You know, we’ve got one one organization who’s looked at using this and creating an automatic process. So they’re using the definitions they have in their metadata in Egeria. So it will automatically generate their APIs for them. So they’re creating consistency with their definitions and things like this. But there’s more we’re doing with dev ops and sort of building Egeria into that as well. So it’s not just this is every aspect of the organization that will use data and metadata.
NATALIE TURNER [00:13:05] That’s fantastic. So I told you this would fly by, we have actually ran out of time, as we’re at the end. You mentioned it earlier. But just so people are listening in and they know where to find more information about Egeria. Do you just want to touch on that again where they can, where they can go to.
MANDY CHESSELL [00:13:23] Yes, so if you go onto GitHub, the organization is ODPI and the repository is Egeria.
MOYA BRANNAN [00:13:29] I mean, the easiest way to find out is Googling ODPI, so O D P I. And then Egeria and Egeria has the same name as the Roman goddess, Egeria who was a water nymph. So she’s emerged from a data lake.
NATALIE TURNER [00:13:43] That’s pretty cool look that up.
MOYA BRANNAN [00:13:46] To make sense of everything.
NATALIE TURNER [00:13:46] OK. Fantastic. Thank you so much ladies for joining us on Disruptive Live. But unfortunately, that is all we have time for. However, you can join in on the conversations on LinkedIn and Twitter looks up on Disruptive Live and hastag DTX Europe. But that’s all from us for now. Don’t go away. We’ll be back after a short break. See you in a bit.