Integration on the Edge: Data Explosion & Next-Gen Integration

Hollis Tibbetts

Everything Else is in the Cloud...Why Not Master Data Management?

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Master Data Management (MDM) is a notoriously difficult, time-consuming, high-effort (but high-value) initiative. It's also an on-premises initiative - pretty much all the pieces of an MDM solution are old-fashioned on-prem software.

Any enterprise-class software that moves up into the Cloud ends up being tremendously easier to use, faster to implement, and simpler to maintain. Witness Siebel on-premises vs. Salesforce.com or any old-style on-premises integration product vs. a new Cloud-based integration stack.

So given how difficult MDM is, I've been wondering, "WHEN is someone going to come up with an all Cloud-based solution?" Well, today I have the answer to that. It's a partnership between SnapLogic - a leading vendor of Cloud-based Integration Solutions and Orchestra Networks - a leading Multidomain MDM software provider.

The solution incorporates data governance, product information management, reference data management and business intelligence dimensions on the back of Orchestra Networks powerful smartdatagovernance.com solution, leveraging SnapLogic's enterprise-grade Cloud-based integration, with a easy-to-use consumerized interface.

About Master Data Management

In short, MDM is about resolving the ongoing problem of conflicting, incomplete and inaccurate information concerning key entities (such as Customers, Products, Parts, Suppliers) across the entire organization. Specifically, MDM is about "reference data" rather than "transactional data" - for example, Customers (master data) buy Products (master data) which generates Orders (transactional data).

Fundamentally, MDM is about having a single view of the truth for key corporate information assets, to be used by all consumers of those assets (applications, processes, people). MDM is not simply a technological problem - in many cases fundamental changes to business processes are required and significant cross-organizational cooperation is likely necessary. MDM is as much about the maintenance of the Master Data as it is about the creation of the Master Data.

An MDM initiative may include a host of different technologies and capabilities, including operational applications, business intelligence/analytics, data/application integration middleware, data validation, data cleansing, repository/data store, workflow.

With so many moving parts, and with so many different parts of the organization involved - it's no wonder that it's an expensive affair. A typical MDM implementation can involve millions of dollars in software licenses and services revenue.

Unfortunately, because of the level of difficulty, MDM projects are also very prone to expensive and highly visible failure.

Why the Cloud Makes Sense for MDM

First of all, everything that moves to the Cloud gets easier to use. A lot easier.
It's not that the Cloud is full of magic pixie dust - rather, it's just that the software stacks that are built for the Cloud are new, more cleanly architected, free of baggage and legacy problems.

For example, many on-premises integration stacks have code dating back to the early 1990's, with user interfaces that would easily be at home in a Windows 95 environment. These products have been enhanced and extended with new features and layers of functionality dozens of times. Compromises and kludges abound. Functionality can be highly counter-intuitive. And as anyone who's ever been responsible for extending old creaky code, it's very difficult to add new capabilities - so new capabilities and features are slower to come to market. As a result, the products are significantly harder to use, productivity suffers, and maintenance efforts increase.

Secondly, increasingly more and more operational as well as analytical applications in the enterprise are moving to the Cloud. SaaS applications like NetSuite or Salesforce, and increasingly, Cloud-based analytics platforms are the default choice for those doing significant analysis and number crunching.

Unlike with an on-premises business application, a new SaaS application can be fired up almost instantaneously.

With the locus of applications and data moving increasingly and rapidly towards the Cloud, that's where Integration (mostly) belongs - and increasingly MDM as well.

Cloud-based Integration is Moving Up-Market

A few years ago, Cloud-based Integration was a curiosity. Then it became "cute" - and useful for small projects linking a small number SaaS applications or perhaps some limited integration with an on-premises system.

All that has completely changed. Just as SaaS and Cloud are becoming not only mainstream - but preferred choices for business applications, so has Cloud-based Integration.

In the process of making integration of SaaS applications and Cloud data easier, these vendors (of which SnapLogic is one) have made ALL integration (including on-premises applications and data) easier. This move into MDM is a definite demonstration of how Cloud Integration is enterprise-class.

Moving Forward with Cloud-based MDM

As with any new generation of technology, some organizations will jump on this bandwagon with great enthusiasm, and others will hold back - preferring to let others take the perceived risk first.

I would put forth the argument that for those data entities (for example, "Products"), where the applications and data sources may already be predominantly SaaS or Cloud-based, the risk is lowered by going with a new Cloud-based MDM solution.

A prudent course of action for organizations considering an MDM solution would be to consider a Cloud-based MDM solution - by looking at data entities which are already semi-public (such as products) and/or already heavily SaaS/Cloud-based (or moving in that direction). In many cases, these will be customer-centric data, although they may be Supply Chain-centric.

It took a few years for Cloud-based Integration to hit mainstream. It will take a bit of time for Cloud-based MDM to do the same. But it will happen quickly, and it will become the implementation architecture of choice for MDM projects.

For more information about this new product announcement

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2 Comments

Not sure if there is cloud-based Master Data Management platform, but there most assuredly is a TruSaaS Cloud-based Mobile Device Management (MDM) platform, MaaS360 by Fiberlink. MaaS360 allows employee-owned and corporate-owned iPhones, iPads, and Androids access corporate networks securely--giving IT admins the management and security tools they're looking for at a time where mobility is exploding.

Just to get the gist for what I'm talking about, check out these common MDM pain points and how well this solution matches up: http://bit.ly/mdmPainPoints

Good post, I agree with cloud being a forcing function to create more innovative offerings, but have a different view on the applicability of strategic functions such as MDM.

The cloud adoption curve flattens out for enterprises for strategic initiatives like MDM. While Salesforce is getting wide adoption, even in risk adverse organizations, it's not being adopted as the strategic platform for CRM. Instead departments and LoBs are acting independently creating an even more fragmented view of customers, accounts and products. CIOs have been charged with figuring out their SaaS strategy and most will tread cautiously, tolerating SaaS but keeping strategic data initiatives safely behind the firewall. This may change in the coming years, but it will only take one high profile leak of data (i.e. Epsilon) to make decision makers nervous. Maybe having cloud based MDM will open up new opportunities to companies that couldn't afford traditional MDM solutions, but without size and scale MDM is unlikely going to be such a hot topic for smaller organisations. I predict a change in focus for smartdatagovernance.com in the next 12 months, leaning more towards reference data use cases

This blog offers an informed and informative perspective on the ongoing explosion of data and the technologies used to turn this data explosion into assets and competitive advantages.

Hollis Tibbetts

Hollis has established himself as a successful software marketing and technology expert. His various strategy, marketing and technology articles are read nearly 50,000 times a month. He is currently Director for Global Marketing Operations for Dell Software Group. Hollis has developed substantial expertise in middleware, SaaS, Cloud, data management and distributed application technologies, with over 20 years experience in marketing, technical, product management, product marketing and business development roles at leading companies in such as Pervasive, Aruna (acquired by Progress Software), Sybase (now SAP), webMethods (now Software AG), M7 Corporation (acquired by BEA/Oracle), OnDisplay (acquired by Vignette) and KIVA Software (acquired by Netscape). He has established himself as an industry expert, having authored a large number of technology white papers, as well as published media articles and book contributions. Hollis is a top-ranked author on Sys-Con media, is also published on Social Media Today "The World's Best Thinkers on Social Media", and maintains a blog focused on creating great software: Software Marketing 2013. He tweets actively as @SoftwareHollis Additional information is available at HollisTibbetts.com All opinions expressed in the author's articles are his own personal opinions vs. those of his employer.

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