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2/20/2003
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Time Saver: Software Gives Merrill Lynch A Unified View

Using MetaMatrix has cut the amount of time needed to integrate new apps with databases and reduced the integration workload.

Whether they're closing a stock trade or assessing a deal's risk, Merrill Lynch employees and the operational trading systems they use need access to information about clients, products, prices, and trade bookings. But because that data is stored in separate databases, IT staff at the financial-services company had to write complex custom programs to pull it all together. Until now.

Merrill Lynch is using enterprise information integration software from MetaMatrix Inc. to create a unified view of information stored in Oracle, Sybase, and IBM database systems and proprietary time-series pricing software. Enterprise information integration leverages metadata repositories to create a virtual database -- a single view of multiple data sources in a consistent format -- for portals, dashboards, and desktop software such as Microsoft Excel, as well as for operational applications that need data from multiple sources to do their job.

Using MetaMatrix has cut the amount of time needed to integrate new applications with the databases and reduced the integration workload for the company's programmers, says Michael Cole, enterprise data-standards initiative director. The company has been widely using the software for six months. The software also has reduced the time it takes to give analysts access to data -- and that could give the company a competitive advantage. Other organizations within Merrill Lynch, including its human-resources department, are considering using the technology, Cole says.

MetaMatrix has a minimal impact on the performance of Merrill Lynch's operational systems. "The performance overhead of the tool is really quite minor," Cole says, although its effectiveness hinges on how well IT staffers write the "select statements," the queries that go out to heterogeneous data sources to retrieve requested information. If they get it right, the payoff can pack a punch.

Illustration by Istvan Orosz

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