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March 14, 2012

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IBM InfoSphere Master Data Management

by Dan Power
IBM Data Management

The Hub Designs MDM Think Tank is briefed by IBM’s MDM team.

Brian Vile, Program Director, MDM Product Management at IBM, and Vasu Vallurupalli, Solutions Lead and Alliances Business Development Exec, sat down with the Hub Designs MDM Think Tank towards the end of 2011 to give us a briefing on changes in IBM’s Master Data Management portfolio.

The first thing Brian and Vasu wanted to brief us on was a big announcement about the unification of IBM’s three MDM products in InfoSphere Master Data Management V10:

  • InfoSphere MDM Server (based on IBM’s acquisition of DWL in 2005)
  • InfoSphere MDM Server for PIM (based on IBM’s acquisition of Trigo in 2004)
  • Initiate Master Data Service (based on IBM’s acquisition of Initiate Systems in 2010)

All three of these products are now being sold as “IBM InfoSphere MDM V10”, broken out into these “editions”:

IBM MDM Editions

Essentially, the Standard Edition is Initiate Master Data Service, the Advanced Edition is both InfoSphere MDM Server and Initiate Master Data Service offered together. The Collaborative Edition is the former IBM InfoSphere MDM Server for Product Information Management (PIM). Finally, the Enterprise Edition includes all three of IBM’s MDM offerings.

What we’re starting to see as well is tighter integration between various other IBM products and its MDM suite.  For example, the workflow capabilities in InfoSphere MDM Server and Initiate are based on IBM’s BPM Express, the leading business process management product formerly known as Lombardi.   IBM’s intent is to focus on improving the master data management experience for its customers. So it includes the Express Edition of BPM, a streamlined version of that product, at no extra charge, and the MDM product is now compatible with the full version of IBM BPM v7.5.

I’ve been a proponent for several years of more tightly integrating MDM solutions with BPM capabilities, and its seems like IBM is providing this to improve master data consistency, to present data in its business process context, to help implement data governance policies and to coordinate multi-step, multi-role workflows for data stewardship and data governance.

So now IBM is selling four SKUs – the Standard Edition, Advanced Edition, Collaborative Edition and Enterprise Edition. While this may confuse some IBM customers initially, there’s no doubt that it’s a powerful story to be able to tell the marketplace. IBM claims to be #1 in market share, with 700+ customers and a lot of experience in helping customers with Information Governance through the team headed up by Steven Adler (http://infogovcommunity.com).

Some of the other themes IBM covered with us include the unified matching engine (based on Initiate’s matching engine), which provides consistent probabilistic matching across all of the editions (except Collaborative), and an emphasis on real-time capabilities, through an application toolkit made up of an Adaptive Service Interface. The service model can also be read through IBM’s Rational software development framework, which allows customers to build flexible, reusable MDM-powered applications on top of trustworthy master data.

All of these things, in IBM’s opinion, simplify the skill set needed to implement InfoSphere MDM, accelerate overall time to value and reduce risk by decreasing the time to go live, as well as lowering the overall total cost of ownership. Given the emphasis recently on rapid, incremental implementations that deliver value to the business quickly, these seem to be moves in the right direction for IBM.

The Adaptive Service Interface works, in part, by creating a “views” layer on top of the tables in the database, thus reducing complexity and simplifying access to the underlying data. IBM can do industry-specific views as well in the ASI layer.

IBM says they are now routinely seeing 3-4 month implementations in their customer base, and can offer the transactional, registry and hybrid styles of MDM deployment, as well as the collaborative authoring style in a single product suite.

Global Name Management is another new feature in V10. It’s based on IBM’s Global Name Recognition product, and is embedded into the probabilistic matching engine in order to help with international data.

Another core InfoSphere MDM Server enhancement is “undo collapse”, which allows a user to fully undo the merger of two entities which seemed like duplicates but later needed to be undone. This is a very sophisticated feature that, in our experience, most companies end up needing at some point in their MDM journey.

IBM also is making it easier for customers to migrate from one edition of the product to another, from Initiate Master Data Service to InfoSphere MDM Server, for example. IBM claims that 50% of what customers invest in the Initiate implementation will carry over to InfoSphere MDM Server; through the tools it provides to ease the move from registry style to transactional style.

In terms of what’s next, IBM foresees one major and one minor release per year. All teams within the Information Governance development product area are using Scrum, an Agile development framework.

And IBM is using simple Themes now for communicating to its customers, the broader market and the analyst community. For example, the “IBM MDM Portfolio” theme in the strategic roadmap is based on the new version of IBM InfoSphere MDM, with its new features for usability, scalability, availability, upgradability, etc. IBM is striving to offer rapid implementations and a seamless MDM journey from one edition of the product to another. The product offers a wide breadth of data models and business services, and supports a variety of platforms, languages and cultures.

The “Information Consumption” theme is all about making the use of master data easier, through business services and service orchestration, the MDM Application Toolkit for building “widgets” that perform useful work for other applications and for building MDM-Powered Solutions on top of the high reliability master data. With event alerts and notifications, an adapter/connector framework, and native support for unstructured data (still over 80% of most enterprise’s information), IBM is rounding out its offering to make it easier to consume master data.

The “Master Data Governance” theme includes a new offering for Reference Data Management that will be “productized”, and a Master Policy Hub to provide policy management capabilities. This will provide a mechanism to build policies, a dashboard to let you know how you’re doing on those policies, and alerts to tell you when things change.

With those refinements to its offerings, and the unification of all of its MDM products in one cohesive suite, IBM seems to have matured its portfolio quite a bit in the last twelve months. I spent a lot of time at the last Gartner MDM Summit talking with key IBM people like George Skaryak and Rick Clements, and saw the early stages then of what IBM has now fully rolled out.  I’m looking forward to spending more time with them at the upcoming Gartner MDM Summit in early April in Los Angeles. It should be interesting to see what IBM is coming up with to build on what they’ve rolled out over the past few months.

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