More companies than ever before are reducing their information technology (IT) costs and delivering a competitive business advantage by building successful meta data repositories. The companies that are building these repositories are faced with a fundamental question: Should we buy a meta data integration tool and use that tool to build our repository or should we build a custom meta data repository? This article will address the four essential questions that will guide your decision. Before you can answer these four questions, there are some tasks that need to be completed.

First, define the specific business and technical requirements of your meta data repository. This is best done by completing a meta data repository project scope document. Do not look at tools until you have completed the project scope document. Second, an important aspect of the project scope document is that it identifies the sources of meta data you will need to integrate into your repository. Note that not all meta data needs to be stored in the central meta data repository. Third, decide how frequently you will extract the meta data from these sources. The frequency with which you will update the meta data within your repository is based on your company's specific business requirements for the repository. Fourth, gauge your corporate climate. Some companies always custom build their applications. Other companies rely on tools and prepackaged applications. Your company's climate could dictate your choice.

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