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Canonical data model

Canonical data model definition

A canonical data model (CDM) is a design pattern software engineers use to standardize the structure and format of data. It’s a common data representation that includes different data formats, ensuring consistent data interpretation and simplifying integration.

CDM acts as a universal translator in environments where we use multiple apps and data formats. So, instead of creating point-to-point data integrations between each application, every system maps its data to the CDM. This way, the information can flow seamlessly between systems without the need for multiple individual transformations.

See also: file format

Advantages of using the canonical data model

  • Faster and more efficient integration projects because of the reduced number of custom integrations.
  • Data is consistently represented across all systems, reducing errors and misunderstandings.
  • New systems can be integrated by simply mapping their data to the CDM, without affecting the existing systems.
  • Changes in one system don't necessitate changes in all other systems, as they would in point-to-point integrations.

Disadvantages of using the canonical data model

  • Designing a comprehensive CDM is a complex and time-consuming task.
  • If not designed with flexibility in mind, changes made to the CDM can disrupt the entire system.
  • Introducing a CDM will add an additional layer of processing to the data flow, which could potentially affect performance.