An agreement by relational data base vendor Informix Corp. to acquire Illustra Information Technologies Inc. may help speed banks' development of risk management systems and data warehouses.

Illustra's technology structures data in such a way that it can be accessed 10 to 100 times faster than on traditional relational data bases.

Illustra is best known for software that manages information in nondata formats, including sound bites, video files, and images on World Wide Web sites. But its technology also has a foothold in banks, where it is used to manipulate complex sets of data.

"We had Wall Street banks that were working with both companies," said Amos Barzilay, director of industry marketing at Informix. "They wanted us to merge to offer products with both capabilities."

With the deal, announced late last month, Informix would leapfrog competitors by acquiring the next generation of relational data base technology rather than having to develop it in-house. Informix, based in Menlo Park, Calif., plans to integrate Illustra's so-called dynamic content management system into its data base technology, Dynamic Scalable Architecture, by the end of 1996.

"This acquisition gives Informix a significant lead over any other data base vendor in capturing the expanding market of content management," said Phil White, chairman and chief executive of Informix.

"By acquiring Illustra, Informix has halved its development time," said Robbie Vann-adibe, director of product strategy for Illustra.

Bank of Boston is using Illustra's software to capture the life cycles for thousands of mortgages.

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