Cheaper Master Data Management, Just in Time for the Cloud

Loraine Lawson

The adoption of cloud computing will only exacerbate the need for master data management-and, ironically enough, make MDM harder and more expensive more quickly, according to David Linthicum, an SOA and cloud consultant and blogger.


Linthicum says in an ebizQ blog post on MDM and cloud computing:


"It's tough to get those doing cloud computing to consider the overall enterprise architecture, let alone MDM. Thus, I suspect that the issues around MDM will get worse as cloud computing continues to be a popular option for enterprise IT. MDM will be an afterthought, and that means major money spent down the road to retrofit an MDM solution that spans from on-premise to cloud-delivered systems, and that won't be easy."


But maybe there is hope. While you can't make companies be forward-thinking, you can at least make forward-thinking affordable. And MDM - which can cost as much as $7 million - is definitely looking more affordable this week after Talend's big announcement: The open source data integration company will soon offer an open source MDM solution.


Talend bought Xtensis, a little-known MDM product, from Amalto Technologies, which specializes in business-to-business data exchange software for the gas and oil industries, according to a report published by Intelligent Enterprise. It's already audited the code for intellectual property compliance. Talend plans to weed out any non-open source code and then integrate Talend's own data integration and data quality tools with Xtensis' MDM capabilities.


The result will be an open source MDM suite, supported by an open source community. Talend is calling it the "first open-source MDM solution," but, if you want to split hairs, Sun's MDM suite has been supported by Mural, an open source community, since 2008.


Still, there's no question that MDM is an an area largely ignored by the open source community-a topic IT Business Edge's Dennis Byron explored in more detail for ebizQ in "Open Source in Master Data Management: Leaders Lead the Way." What's more, it may soon be the only surviving open source MDM solution by its January release, because Mural's future is hazy since Oracle took over Sun - a fact Andy Hayler, analyst and CEO of The Information Difference, points out in this week's IT-Director column.


But what may be more important than an open source MDM offering, particularly for those companies that can't afford MDM's hefty price tag, is that Talend soon will offer the core technology for free downloading under the GNU General Public License. What's more, the company has promised its integrated suite will be offered at "a fraction of the cost" of proprietary MDM solutions, thereby "democratizing MDM for the masses," according to the company's announcement.


At first, I thought Talend's announcement would apply more to small and mid-sized companies that need MDM, but can't afford it. But analysts are saying it could appeal to enterprise-class organizations, as well, given MDM's million (or more) price tag. The press release includes this quote by Aaron Zornes, chief research officer at The MDM Institute:


"Many of the Global 5000 size organizations we work with will be delighted to see a major open source player enter the fast growth MDM market, especially at a time when organizations are doing all they can to optimize the ROI of their projects."


Even if they don't actually want to use Talend's solutions, companies may use Talend's MDM solution "as a stick to beat vendors with in pricing discussions," according to Haylor. Likewise, Hayler predicted earlier this year that Microsoft's entrance into MDM could lower the overall costs of MDM products.


Hayler believes it may also signal the beginning of another, perhaps inevitable, trend-data integration vendors moving into MDM. It's a natural fit, given the role that data integration technology plays in MDM deployments. One big question, as Haylor and many others have pointed out before, is how Informatica will react. The data integration company formed a partnership with MDM provider Initiate last year, but Hayler still suspects Informatica will acquire an MDM solution.


It's always fun to try to guess how this will affect other vendors and the market, but for those of you with more pressing, immediate needs, Talend's offering may be just the rope you needed for managing master data sooner rather than later-especially if you're interested in using cloud solutions. And that's not a coincidence, because it turns out that Linthicum's not the only one who thinks cloud deployments will increase the demand for MDM.


Talend's CEO, Bertrand Diard, told InformationWeek during an interview on the acquisition that the need for MDM and data integration will grow with cloud computing.

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