Three ways to do it

When it comes to metadata management, there is no exclusive strategy or solution. In his analysis of the market, Michael Blechar, a vice president and research

director at Gartner Inc., has identified three approaches.

* A centralized metadata repository involves putting data in one physical place.

* A virtual repository is not so much an actual repository as a "layer" superimposed over different metadata tools,

making the information transparent to the user, as though it comes from a single source. For example, Data Advantage Group Inc. provides a metadata view tool, which puts a client interface in front of data repositories.

* A point-to-point approach allows repositories to access one another's metadata via "metadata bridges." Informatica Corp. offers analytic bridges that permit some tools to read metadata directly from its repository software.

While these three may be the most basic, they are not the only approaches. Among its various metadata products, for example, Informatica offers packaged metadata solutions that focus on discrete functions, such as business operations and human resources.

Some of the company's federal customers have recently adopted "the human resources solution, which provides them with a way of keeping track of all their employees or

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