A metadata repository is a database of data about data (metadata). The purpose of the metadata repository is to provide a consistent and reliable means of access to data. The repository itself may be stored in a physical location or may be a virtual database, in which metadata is drawn from separate sources. Metadata may include information about how to access specific data, or more detail about it, among a myriad of possibilities.
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In an article in Network Computing, Nick Gall, a program director with the META Group's Open Computing & Server Strategies claims that (somewhat ironically) the mechanisms for cataloging data are "woefully inadequate" throughout the information technology (IT) sector. Gall compares the situation to an office containing stacks of papers: information can be searched for but not in any consistent, systematic, and reliable manner. According to Gall, "... the lack of adequate catalog services is the No. 1 impediment to interoperable distributed systems. The information is at our fingertips; we simply lack the ability to get it when and where we need it."