IBM Master Data Management (MDM) Server, which Big Blue is announcing today, is designed to simplify getting data from a variety of sources into service-oriented architecture (SOA) applications.
While SOA environments need to access data throughout the enterprise, that is easier said than done, explained David Corrigan, product manager, master data management at IBM.
"One of the things we found with the SOA community, with architects and data architects, is that as organizations begin to build services that cross multiple applications that often drives the demand for master data," he said.
IBM's MDM server provides a central source for data throughout the enterprise, so SOA applications can access information without requiring developers to spend time on data access issues.
"The MDM provides a master directory of where that data resides, so the applications that need access to master data like BI [business intelligence] applications are essentially programmed to talk to the registry provided by the MDM hub," explains James Kobielus, senior analyst at Forrester Research Inc. "Then that registry takes care of all the plumbing, making sure that the applications are accessing that data wherever it may reside over the SOA."
The MDM hub goes beyond the capabilities of a data warehouse, explains Aaron Zornes, chief research officer for MDM Institute.
"A data warehouse is good for analytics, but a data warehouse does not do a good job of serving up near real-time universal customer views, so you can see how much they bought from this side or that side," he explained. "A single view of the customers is one of the prime drivers for master data management."
IBM's Corrigan said this solves a common problem for SOA implementations where architects and developers find that they need a lot of different data sets from a lot of different sources.
"A lot of our clients in services-based industries have tried to SOA-enable and have a workflow or a middleware process or business process for opening a new account for example," Corrigan explained. "Very quickly they realize that one critical step is understanding who the customer is, did they buy products from you before, what kind of relationship do you have? There's no one application that can answer those questions because actually the data is buried in multiple applications."
One application may require data on product information, account information or location data, all of which are located in different data sources, Corrigan said.
"That's really what master data management is about," he said. "It's about consolidating that information and making it available to a set of business services meant to be consumed by application and business processes."
For SOA developers, MDM makes working with data and data services simpler, said Kobielus.
"The bottom line for data services for developers is that the IBM MDM server simplifies their life," the Forrester analyst said. "Applications don't need to understand or know where the data resides or what the original data schema is, or what model that the data implements. The MDM hub takes care of virtualizing all that data so you write the applications, say BI applications, to IBM's SOA services and then the underlying MDM infrastructure takes care of all the plumbing."
IBM is not alone among SOA vendors in providing MDM products, Kobielus said. Oracle Corp., SAP AG, and Tibco Software Inc., as well as some smaller vendors, have MDM offerings, but the Forrester analyst said the new IBM MDM server tops the list.
"IBM is leading the market in terms of the shear breadth and the comprehensiveness of the MDM offering and the extensibility and SOA enablement and also the richness of their data governance and data quality," the Forrester analyst said.