What is RDBI?

The focus of GlencoIS is Reference-Data-Based Interoperability. So what is RDBI ?

(The following is adapted from the introduction to the Joint Operational Reference Data (JORD) project.)

Why should I care about Reference Data?

You already recognize the great business value in achieving flexible interoperability between business-units, supply chain partners and systems, over long multi-project, multi-asset, multi-business lifecycles, through:

  • direct cost-and-time-savings in reducing effort in transferring, mapping and in simply finding & accessing information necessary to do your business.
  • risk-and-cost-reductions in the quality and ambiguity of information which otherwise lead to sub-optimal business operations, failure to satisfy regulators or, in the worst case, loss of health, safety & environmental integrity.
  • your freedom to take advantage of collaborative business processes, flexible business partnering, and different subcontracting arrangements across your evolving, distributed, even remote & inhospitable, business operations and supply-chains.

And you already recognise that achieving these benefits has a strong dependency on standardization across systems, across information and across technologies. Different businesses domains already address different parts of this problem with varying degrees of success.

What is clear is that drivers for information & communications technology standardization are much broader than your own business. And it is also clear is that software solutions & services  have quite different supply-chain lifecycles compared to your core business. That is …

  • Business Processes & Applications
  • Data & Information
  • Implementation Technologies

… must be standardized independently wherever possible, if the benefits are to be realized.

ISO15926 is a standard built on this architecture, focussing on standardization of information (models and semantics) independent of particular business applications and usage, and neutral with respect to implementation technologies.

It is far from being the only industrial standard that recognizes such a focus on the standardization of information itself. But a key feature of ISO15926 is that shared information definitions are handled as Reference Data; reference data that is itself accessed and managed independently of your business information and its implementations, and indeed independently of the many possible standards and catalogues that may define that information.

ISO15926 Reference Data supports
interoperability & sharing of information definitions
between different information standards
as well as between different businesses & technologies.

Because the business scope of such wide interoperability is very large, it is impractical to expect the critical operations of any major business, let alone whole industries, to rely on a single reference data service provider for life. A key feature of the ISO15926 RDS architecture is that it also supports multiple federated reference data systems and operations because, being entirely technology neutral it can also exploit the most standard “semantic web” implementation technologies without imposing any dependency. The reference data available to any one business is the sum total of a whole web of linked resources. And, because the way those linked information resources are represented is itself standardized, they benefit from sharing a common scheme for their quality and compliance validation.

What does it take to exploit Reference Data practically?

The business benefits and attraction of succeeding in adopting the ISO15926 Reference Data based approach to interoperability ought to be intuitively obvious given the description above. But the huge scale and complexity would lead anyone to be wary of seeing it as a viable implementation project or business. A metaphorical elephant.

The Joint Operational Reference Data (JORD) project is a collaboration facilitated jointly by PCA (POSC Caesar Association) and FIATECH. Participation is open to members and non-members alike – anyone – who recognizes that their adoption of ISO15926 to achieve interoperability depends on shared reference data.

What the JORD project is doing is establishing a core set of services, methods and capabilities, which enable the evolution, management and validation of compliant use of reference data not only by your business directly, but by a federated web of competitive providers of value-added content, systems and services to your business.

For more details on the JORD project and its deliverables refer to additional links here. The JORD project is one core piece of the jigsaw, and individual asset operating businesses and projects, require a wide range of information modelling and mapping skills & services, as well as software tools & systems.

Oct 2012 Update – Note that this 15926/RDS based architectural approach to interoperability has now adopted by both PCA and Fiatech under the “iRING” brand. See iRINGToday.com