Microsoft's MDM: Just Enough or Too Little?

Loraine Lawson

There's precious little written about Microsoft's foray into master data management. I suppose it's because Microsoft's solution is built on its acquisition of Stratature, and as Forrester's Rob Karel pointed out at the time, it's a limited MDM solution focused on the analytical side of MDM, as opposed to the more complex problem of operational MDM, which is traditionally what people mean when they talk about creating a "single version of the truth."


Whatever the reason, Andy Hayler, CEO of the Information Difference, is one of the few people who have anything to say about Microsoft's new MDM offering, called Microsoft Data Services. This week he actually wrote two columns on it.


The first column is an assessment of Microsoft Data Services, which is bundled with SQL Server Enterprise edition and Datacenter edition. Haylor says Microsoft has changed quite a few things since acquiring Stratature, including integrating with SharePoint, which allows a more "sophisticated workflow to be developed."


I was also intrigued to learn that the whole thing is API-based. Why does that matter? As Hayler explains, it allows ISVs to build apps on top of MDS. That's a good thing, since the description of MDS sounds pretty bare-bones at this point. The idea seems to be that ISVs will be able to build on better user interfaces and create support for things like version comparison, which, oddly, it does not provide out of the box.


Hayler's second column on MDS is actually about one of these add-ons, Profisee, which developed what Hayler calls a "data governance usability layer aimed at data stewards who are planning to use the MDM platform." You would think an MDM product would include some data quality capabilities, but, alas, MDS does not-despite, as Hayler points out, the fact that Microsoft acquired data quality vendor Zoomix in 2008.


Honestly, the whole offering sounds pretty weak for MDM, but it also sounds like Microsoft isn't trying to play in the traditional MDM bucket of solving huge data incapability problems. It sounds more like MDM for business intelligence-aka analytical MDM, an approach Gartner's Andrew White criticized recently.


That said, it's also much less expensive than a full-fledged MDM offering. At the mere cost of $27,495 for the SQL Server Enterprise edition, which includes MDS, Microsoft may be offering a solution that fits the current needs of smaller companies. Or, possibly, Microsoft is effectively baiting the hook for an eventual full-scale MDM offering.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jul 19, 2010 12:52 PM Akiva Marks Akiva Marks  says:

I'm surprised at your thinking to Microsoft's "it's all accessible by an API layer" approach.  While others building additions or extensions to better sell the product (and/or cover what it lacks) is nice, building an application out of a series of components (or modules) is exactly the goal of Service Oriented Architecture.  Not so I can extend the product as an add-on vendor, but so I can use modules of the product as building blocks for other capabilities that I may want to create for my business.

What MDM product has abilities I can directly use as part of a BPM workflow?  Data abilities, calc abilities, rules engine abilities? (I don't know if this product has them either, just providing examples.) 

Yes, I want to buy "solutions", but I also want to be able to use or reorganize the solution components to meet future (or even current) needs. 

Exposing functional components from their various products is one thing Microsoft gets.  This may be an extension of ActiveX control thinking.

More on this thought over at my blog, Making SOA Work Reply

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