Tagging seems like an unlikely replacement for integration, but apparently, it's working out just fine for the Department of Defense.
If you think you've got information overload problems, consider what the DOD faces on a daily basis. U.S. intelligent agents receive and interpret thousands of messages every day in more than 40 different dialects and languages, from up to 500 data sources, according to this short Baseline Magazine item. The stakes are high, too, since the information must be analyzed for possible leads on terrorist activity or wars.
The problem is: How do you analyze, fuse and share the data? Traditional integration just wasn't cutting it, according to Leslie Winters, division chief for Joint Data and Services with the Joint Forces of Command:
"Many of these systems are integrated in a rigid, point-to-point manner that does not allow us to rapidly adjust to new war-fighting requirements and new data sources in the same manner as can be done using Web-based technologies."
So, the DOD opted to use Web-based technologies, including metadata tagging, as tools for squeezing information from the data quickly and efficiently.
The article doesn't have enough details for my taste. For instance, I wonder how they get all of that information tagged and how they shift through it after the fact.
Still, it's an interesting idea.
Metadata can also play a useful part in integration, as this post by Andrew White shows. White looks at how metadata intersects with master data management. Much of the post refers back to Gartner notes, which are available for purchase, but there's enough meat in White's piece to give you an idea of how the two relate.