Microsoft Moves Into Master Data Management


Here's big news for those of you interested in master data management, but turned off by its price tag: Consultant and IT director-writer Andy Hayler reports Microsoft will offer MDM capabilities bundled with SQL Server.


Hayler says the MDM offering, previously code named "Project Bulldog," was in a private technical preview with more than 200 companies for the past year, but he thinks it could ship later this year as part of the CTP3 release of SQL Server.

Microsoft announced the new capabilities at TechEd 2009, and its Web site states the new MDM offering will "ship as part of the next release of SQL Server codenamed Kilimanjaro' as 'SQL Server Master Data Services.'" You'll note that's not a three-letter acronym, so Hayler has already suggested one: MDS.


The foundation for the MDM add-on came from Microsoft's purchase of Stratature, an MDM vendor Hayler says is well known for its dimension management. Microsoft has taken the capabilities in an interesting direction, however. It has added operational data management capabilities, but when it comes to data quality and some of the other components you see with MDM, Microsoft opted not to reinvent the wheel. Hayler writes:

... indeed it seemed clear that the MDS team has no desire to try and build from the ground up the various components of data quality that are already available out in the market (such as address matching) and that third party tools will be able to plug into it via an API. MDS will have a very full API, allowing third parties to build add-ons for it, for example specific industry offerings, and this is something that Microsoft will encourage.


As Hayler points out, Microsoft's entry into MDM is significant for two reasons:

  1. Microsoft's reach in the marketplace means more companies will be exposed to MDM. In the test phase, Microsoft managed to put MDM capabilities into more hands than Stratature's whole customer base, he says. I suspect Microsoft will also be able to reach more companies simply because it will be more affordable. Not everyone can afford the $1 million MDM can cost. Compared to that price tag, buying an updated version of SQL is a drop in the bucket.
  2. He's certain Microsoft's solution could lower the price of MDM overall. While Microsoft's tool may not have all the functions offered by existing MDM vendors, "its presence in the market alone is likely to apply pricing pressure to other vendors," Hayler writes.


Speaking of MDM vendors, if you're interested in learning more about MDM products, Information Management is offering a free webinar June 23 on "Deciphering the MDM Solutions Provider Offerings." The webinar will discuss what differentiates the 10 top MDM solutions. It will also look at the top 10 systems integrators.