April 16, 2001, 9:52 AM — Carol Stewart has watched data pile up like ominous digital clouds on the information horizon. And as vice president of data administration at the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. (MetLife) in New York City, it's her job to predict when those clouds will burst and to find ways to disperse them before they overwhelm MetLife's systems.
Stewart supervises a group of 180 experts who oversee the insurance giant's nearly 600 production databases and who work on all of MetLife's data and database applications. With the constant need for more and better customer information, Stewart has seen MetLife's data-handling needs grow explosively. The number of MetLife production databases has more than doubled in the past three years, and Stewart's data team has grown by more than 60 percent (with each staffer supporting 80 percent more data applications) in the same period. With no slowdown in sight, Stewart feels MetLife has weathered the storm primarily by adding a new messaging architecture layer to the enterprise and by accurately forecasting database needs and planning accordingly. Stewart also cites the formation of a centrally organized team of database experts with varied backgrounds as key to MetLife's data success story.
CIO: How do you foresee a potential data overload coming?
Stewart: One of the chief indicators would be an increasing demand from people in the business community for information