DataFlux has made something of a name for itself in Master Data Management as offering a solution that lets you build as you go. Recently, I read Forrester's and Gartner's most recent reports on MDM, thanks to MDM vendor Siperian, which is offering them for free download on its site. Both reports reference DataFlux's gradual or modular approach to building MDM. In part, that's because DataFlux's CDI Solution incorporated MDM, while still focusing primarily on customer data integration.
This week, DataFlux announced a new offering called qMDM. It's a major upgrade of the previous MDM offering, with more support for hierarchy management -- an area for which DataFlux had previously received criticism from Gartner - plus a master repository manager, which helps with metadata, identity management and built-in support for data governance.
To provide some context, let's take a quick look at the MDM market as it stands now. Basically, there are 8-10 major MDM vendors, depending on whom you ask. The big players, meaning they hold the largest share of the market, are IBM, Oracle and SAP. Siperian and Initiate Systems are considered "best of breed." Sun Microsystems, Tibco Software, D& B Purisma and DataFlux also make Gartner's list, with Forrester adding VisionWare. In its 2008 "Magic Quadrant for MDM for Customer Data," Gartner ranks DataFlux as a niche player.
One thing that's interesting about this new release is that DataFlux qMDM can be used for customer, product or organizational data sets. This makes the MDM framework "more adaptable to data domains beyond those that are customer focused, such as finances and inventory," according to this vnunet article about the new product.
There are two products sets - DataFlux qMDM Solution for Customer Data and DataFlux qMDM Solution for Product Data. Traditionally, MDM solutions have either been for customer data or product data -- not both. DataFlux says the product sets can be integrated. IBM lead the charge on this evolution last year when the company unveiled its Master Data Management Server.
Karen Leightell, the senior product manager for IBM's Master Data Management Solution Group, told me the next step for MDM would be a single MDM product that could handle both product and customer data. That's something I suspect you'll see more of in the coming year and it's worth considering before you invest.
One thing DataFlux does not plan to change, however, is its support for a phased-in approach to MDM. Scott Gidley, DataFlux's CTO and a founder, told vnunet:
"This product is a natural evolution of DataFlux technology, and we built it to meet the needs of enterprises who are struggling with the commonly accepted 'all or nothing' approach to MDM that is prevalent in the market."
Of course, this modular approach to implementing MDM technology is not universally accepted. Ravi Shankar, the senior director of product marketing at Siperian, makes a persuasive case for deploying a complete solution, but focusing on gradually introducing MDM by addressing targeted business problems, in this DM Review article. (Free user registration required to read.) I suspect the modular approach will appeal to many organizations, but, again, that's something you'll need to consider.
The vnunet article also notes that DataFlux customers will be able to add qMDM to existing implementations, reusing their already-established data governance rules and data quality routines.
MDM is still very much in the early adopter phase, but Forrester predicts this will change within the next 18 to 24 months -- when MDM enters the mainstream. So far, MDM deployments are done at global enterprises, and there's some debate over whether that will change.