Software AG Focuses on Connecting MDM to BPM

Loraine Lawson

Software AG made its master data management move this week, acquiring Data Foundations. It's not exactly marketing-shattering news, but what is interesting is Software AG's plan to focus on marrying its business process management capabilities with MDM.


You can do each alone, "but the real value comes when you integrate MDM with BPM," Software AG's CTO Wolfram Jost told IDG News. And, in a related quote, he told InformationWeek that the combo "demonstrates how IT can support business strategy as never before."


This is not a new idea, of course. At least a year ago, people were talking about how MDM worked with BPM and SOA. But I think it's an idea worth revisiting, particularly since MDM is so expensive. Even though MDM should be seen as an enterprise-wide endeavor, it's in jeopardy of being perceived as "an IT project." By coupling MDM with BPM, it could be easier to ensure MDM is truly supporting business-critical problems and processes.


In other words, this could be a great way to ensure MDM is addressing the "needs, pains or problems," as Dan Powers advises and not just being approached as a technology project. And it could help business users become more comfortable with MDM, which hopefully would translate into more involvement in maintaining the quality of the data.


So, integrating the two at the technology level seems like a smart marketing move; it could even be the most critical element of Software AG's success in this increasingly big-vendor-dominated market. Ventana Research CEO Mark Smith certainly seems to see integration between the BPM solution and the acquired MDM solution as a critical issue for the $1.2 billion company, according to Information Management.


Though Jost promised you'd still be able to buy Data Foundation's MDM tool as a stand-alone product, the plan is to integrate it with its WebMethods and ARIS BPM software.


Ramon Chen, who spent four years as the vice president of product marketing at MDM vendor Siperian (now owned by Informatica), says the acquisition "won't have a major impact on the market," since the mega vendors have already moved in this space:

So will this shake up the MDM marketplace? I sincerely doubt if Informatica, IBM, Oracle or even SAP are particularly bothered by this move by Software AG. For now, I still rate Informatica with Siperian the true multi-domain MDM leader, with IBM as ever a tremendous influencer and competitor through sheer brute force and ubiquity.

That said, Forrester analyst Rob Karel has questioned whether Oracle might be due for another MDM-related acquisition to flesh out some of its dependency on competitors.


Chen noted that Data Foundation was a bit of surprising choice for Software AG. Previously, Software AG marketed Web Methods MDM using OEM (original equipment manufacturer) rights to Orchestra Networks' EBX platform, but their partnership dissolved last year for unspecified reasons.


For its part, Software AG says this purchase was about the technology, not about buying market shares.

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