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Cloud-based MDM is here – apparently.

by Andrew White  |  June 27, 2011  |  5 Comments

Today Orchestra Networks announced the availability of their cloud-based MDM service offering, at http://smartdatagovernance.com/ The press suggested this was the worlds’ first cloud-based MDM offering.   I don’t want to explore the specifics related to this one vendor, but since cloud computing is very highly hyped right now, we do get a number of inquiries from users related to MDM.  So I thought I would share a few thoughts.

Firstly, the questions from users regarding cloud computing are MDM are really tentative at best.  There are not many users seriously considering moving their entire data management efforts to the cloud.  One has to remember, MDM is as much about application information governance, so unless those applications reside in the cloud, moving data outside of the firewall simply adds more complexity.

Secondly, there is various data management services offered via on-demand, SaaS, or cloud, and these can help some of the technology aspects of MDM.  I am thinking specifically of data quality services.  These data quality services might be used for all manner of information management, but they could also be “called” by an application residing behind the firewall, in order to send select data “outside” for processing, upon which it is “returned” to the business.  Another aspect of MDM that is far more mature (since it existed before MDM did) was the idea of data enrichment and validation.  Several vendors and services offer a means to validate a customer credit worthiness, or provide additional data concerning a customer or product in order to enhance a specific business processes.  So “cloud” and MDM are friends already, but is “MDM” really destined for the cloud in its entirety?

Gartner’s position has been clear – yes, over time, selectively.  But there are numerous barriers.  The technology is not really a barrier – it is more of a challenge.  The real barriers are well documented – spanning clear line of sight to business case and business sponsor, change management, establishment of governance and so on.  So a cloud-based MDM offering does seem to offer some benefits, in removing some of the more tactical IT challenges, but does it alone help make the real barriers easier to overcome?  I wonder.

Though the physical hosting of data and data processing may reside on servers in the cloud, that is very different from re-locating the business role of data stewardship from

The physical hosting of data and data processing may reside on servers in the cloud, but that is very different from re-locating the business role of data stewardship from business users (behind the firewall) to some 3rd party.  And can that third party be synonymous – which is the whole point about CPU capability in the cloud?  I doubt it.  Some years ago i2 Technologies implemented a unique solution for Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI).  They delivered what became a managed supply chain services whereby their employees did much of the planning processes for Panasonic as it maintained superior services levels for its TV’s through its retail channel partners like Best Buy.  This was years ago (though it may still be operating today), and the technology was hosted and operated by i2 but could have claimed that this was a cloud based solution, coupled with managed services.  Though innovative i2 was never able to monetize this idea well – the actual solution ended up being so unique in its work that it could be sold  “as is” not least because most other prospects where not willing to ‘give up’ that level of control on what was, in essence, a source of differentiation in the market place.  This could be what happens with “stewardship in the cloud”.

Overall though this new cloud offering will help the adoption of MDM.  Setting up some of the technology needed to support an MDM program looks easier to do, so more organizations can “kick the can” and see how it looks.  Perhaps some organizations will “play” with MDM and then “upgrade” to a real one later – not unlike Talend’s idea with its Community Edition-based MDM, Open Source Software solution, that has a logical “upgrade” path to that vendors Enterprise Edition.  But will large enterprise actually seek out full blown cloud-based MDM offering?  Or will this better suit smaller/mid-sized enterprise?

It would seem that Open Source Software and cloud Computing are set to impact the MDM market, but the question is, by how much and how soon?

By the way, Orchestra Networks have a cool video that coincides with today’s announcement: http://www.youtube.com/user/smartdatagovernance

Category: cloud-computing  mdm  open-source-mdm  orchestra-networks-vendors  scm  talend  

Tags: cloud-based-mdm  mdm  open-source-software-mdm  orchestra-networks  oss-mdm  talend  

Andrew White
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
22 years IT industry

Andrew White is a research vice president and agenda manager for MDM and Analytics at Gartner. His main research focus is master data management (MDM) and the drill-down topic of creating the "single view of the product" using MDM of product data. He was co-chair… Read Full Bio


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