It is nearly a year now since Microsoft acquired Stratature, so it seems timely to reflect on what Microsoft is planning for its entry into the master data management (MDM) market. Microsoft's MDM product, code-named "Bulldog", is based on the Stratature technology, but is much more ambitious. The Stratature technology (the catchily named +EDM) was an inherently multi-domain MDM hub which was mainly aimed at the "analytic" MDM market, which is populated by the likes of Kalido and Hyperion DRM from Oracle.
Stratature +EDM had a reputation for being good at hierarchy management, a subject that is often glossed over. We are used to simple hierarchies such as organisation charts, but there are also more complex hierarchies where a parent/child relationship may have an arbitrary depth along any path. A business example of this is in bill of materials. The ability to deal with variable depth "ragged" hierarchies is something that eludes many MDM technologies, but +EDM could do it. Also, all data entities and hierarchies in +EDM were versioned, and changes to master data could be validated against the rules defined for the particular business rules or hierarchies defined. Again, this version management and the ability to associate business process workflow around the lifecycle of master data is an important but sometimes neglected area in some MDM products.
Microsoft has temporarily removed the original +EDM product from the market while they go about the necessary re-engineering for their future plans, but have produced a "technical preview" version. This is the original product plus some minor changes, such as updating some out of date code libraries, and incorporating all the outstanding code patches. Both existing customers and prospects can download and experiment with this. Some companies beyond the original Stratature customer base are already using this code actively. Most of the existing Stratature customers have stayed loyal, with a majority signed up to the tech preview program. The plans for Bulldog are still under wraps, but it is clear that Microsoft want to construct a far more all-encompassing offering, able to deal with operational master data as well as analytic MDM applications. Clearly this will be able to take advantage of significant Microsoft infrastructure, such as SSIS and Biztalk, but there is a lot of work needed to make the transition to a product fully capable of operational MDM, such as the provision of robust APIs to allow complete web services operations.
The new MDM product will become available in the next version of Microsoft Office System, whose own availability has yet to be announced and is the subject of much speculation. As the MDM product plans become clearer I will cover them, but it is clear from conversations that I have had with Microsoft that it sees MDM as important and that it is putting significant resources into developing Bulldog. Its entry to the market will be interesting to watch.
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