Speaker Spotlight Column: Michael Blaha on Data Modeling

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edw2013-speaker-spotlightby Charles Roe

DATAVERSITY™ recently interviewed Michael Blaha, a Consultant at Modelsoft Consulting Corp. Michael will be giving a session at the Enterprise Data World 2014 Conference in Austin, Texas from April 27 – May 1, 2014. His session is titled “Test Your Knowledge of the UML.”

The Speaker Spotlight Column (and its parallel venture the Sponsor Spotlight Column) is an ongoing project that focuses on highlighting several of the central issues represented at the many Data Management conferences produced by DATAVERSITY.

The primary emphasis of the interview was to question Michael Blaha on his work and history within the industry, with particular importance on his presentation at the upcoming conference:

DATAVERSITY (DV): What are you going to discuss during your session at EDW14, and what will the audience gain from attending your talk? (Please be specific about one or two issues you’ll be addressing and the benefits the audience will obtain).

Michael Blaha (MB): The UML is becoming increasingly popular for data modeling. This session will be organized about questions and answers. Participants will take three small tests and we will discuss the answers. This will help participants assess their comprehension of the UML for databases and get answers to questions.

DV: What is really important about such a topic in terms of the current state of Data Management and / or how the industry going to transform moving into the future?

MB: There are two aspects to data modeling – reaching out to the business and creating code for development. Traditional database modeling notations are great at creating code. But there needs to be more emphasis on business communication. We routinely use the UML in working with business staff and it is effective.

DV: Please tell us a little about yourself and your history in the industry, past work experience, and how you got started in the data profession?

MB: Thirty years ago I received my doctorate in chemical engineering. My dissertation used databases to integrate chemical engineering software. After graduation I went to GE Research and worked on software development techniques. While there, several colleagues and I wrote our first book (Object-Oriented Modeling and Design) and it became a technical best seller. This book was a precursor to the UML. Hence my interest in databases and the UML

DV: What is the biggest challenge happening in your particular area of Data Management at this time?

MB: The difficulty in dealing with the reams of artifacts that can arise when constructing data models for the many applications of a large enterprise.

DV: How is such a change influencing your job?

MB: I’m deeply involved in enterprise data modeling – formulating an overall data model of an enterprise and using it to relate individual application models. That’s part of the answer.

DV: How have your job, and / or the work you are doing at your organization, altered in the past 12 months? How do you expect it will change in the next 1-2 years?

MB: The UML is gradually becoming more mainstream with data professionals. Also I’ve personally been getting more involved with data warehouses and complex queries. The NoSQL technology is interesting, but I believe the potential of conventional SQL databases is still only partially realized.

DV: Are there any other emerging technologies you predict will affect your job function in the future?

MB: I’ve been working to extend data models to XSD files – both forward and reverse engineering. To my knowledge no one (including myself) has fully figured it out. Most SOA applications focus on reading and writing data, so clearly the SOA/XSD world should be paying attention to data models. Currently they are not.

DV: What’s your favorite “Data” or “Data Management” quote?

MB: Conventional databases are not easy to use; they are easy to abuse.

DV: How do you explain what you do for work, at a cocktail party, or to your grandparents?

Answer:  Not very well. They understand that I work with companies and write books. About the best example I can give is that of a large phone billing system.


If you are interested in attending Michael’s session at EDW2014, please see the conference schedule at:

His session is on Thursday, May 1st at 8.30am.

About Enterprise Data World:
Enterprise Data World is the business world’s most comprehensive educational event about data and information management. Over five days, EDW presents a diverse schedule of programming that addresses every level of proficiency, including keynotes, workshops, tutorials, case studies, and discussions.

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