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Microsoft Partners with SAP and Adobe on Ambitious Data Model Project

Mike Vizard

Microsoft, SAP and Adobe this week at a Microsoft Ignite conference launched an ambitious effort to create a common data model for applications deployed on the Microsoft Azure cloud that one day could have significant implications for building artificial intelligence (AI) applications spanning multiple sources of data.

The Open Data Initiative will initially focus on creating a common set of terms to be employed across applications that will make it simpler for organizations to create a more unified digital customer experience.

SAP CEO Bill McDermott promised attendees that this joint initiative will not only lead to better digital customer experiences, but also lower costs.

“Customers have every right to expect lower costs,” says McDermott.

While employing common terms to describe a customer within SAP, Microsoft and Adobe applications has some obvious benefits, constructing a common open data model on a Microsoft Azure data lake that can be employed across not just SAP, Microsoft and Adobe applications, but also third-party ones, will take many years to accomplish. It’s even doubtful it can be accomplished. But in the shorter term, open interfaces between these applications would be a boon for application and business process integration.

The rise of machine and deep learning algorithms that are being employed to fuel development of AI applications is forcing vendors to confront longstanding data model issues that create multiple silos of incompatible data formats all over the enterprise. A common data store on Azure would in theory make it much simpler to apply algorithms against pools of data spanning a broad range of business processes.

While that goal remains largely aspirational in the sense that work on The Open Data Initiative has only just begun, the assumption that all three vendors are making is that customers will standardize on Azure to build their data lakes. Naturally, rivals ranging from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and IBM to Google are not likely to embrace a data store that is too tightly coupled to Azure. But there may be hope in the fact that now that the Open Data Initiative has been launched, a broader data model initiative that would garner more widespread support might one day become feasible.


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