Microsoft’s MDM Entrance

Microsoft has recently released its Master Data Services (MDS) and this move marks the entrance of the said company into the master data management (MDM) market. Microsoft’s MDS is now officially a part of SQL Server 2008 R2 released last April 21, 2010 making it bundled in with SQL Server Enterprise edition and Datacenter edition. Stratature, a small vendor which concentrated on “analytic MDM” and having a good support in its hierarchy management was acquired and this was where the new product was based. However, MDS also has additional features not present Stratature.

Apart from the application-level security of Stratature, it also allows object-level database and integration with Windows Active Directory. Security privileges can now be cascaded in a hierarchy as well as providing an MDM-specific workflow and a more sophisticated workflow with its SharePoint integration.

MDS is API-based so all the tasks you need to do with it can be done using the user-interface which can be done with the API. With this, other vendors have started to build applications on top of the MDS. Profisee was one who provided a front-end for MDS providing additional functionality like version comparison. The user interface of MDS may not be the best but it certainly does open up a lot of opportunities for other vendors.

Product Scalability

The scalability of this new product has been beefed up by the SQL Server team. MDS was able to set-wise business rule validation which is faster than the common task done by Stratature which does validation on a basis that is somehow row-wise. With this, it can be quite safe in assuming that MDS can handle more than a million more master data records with the least moderate of all levels of complexity. This also shows that they are not aiming for high-end customer data integration application, a relief to Visionware who has this “citizen” focus. Visionware and Microsoft may see their products to complement each other in the future.

However, a major lack in Microsoft’s MDM product offering is the absence of integrated data quality. Microsoft has already acquired Zoomix which means that an integrated data quality product is in the making but that is not yet in their MDM product offering today. Since intertwined data quality is important with master data projects, missing this feature is a major flaw for them.

It may be because MDS was supposed to merge with SharePoint and not with SQL Server. However, since integration services, MDM, and data quality are now in one organization, then this means that a better service will be given making it possible to have third party data quality tools via DLL.

Customer Adoption of MDS

Thousands of downloads for the CTP version of MDS was observed however, it is not yet sure whether customers were just experimenting or are really putting the program to good use. Since the SQL Enterprise edition costs $27,495, the addition of MDS will put a pressure on the MDM market. It is still too early to call MDS a real competitor with the other MDM vendors but with its low price, it may receive wide customer adoption.