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Orchestra Networks Launches EBX5 – the Next Generation of its MDM Hub

Orchestra Networks is launching EBX5, the new version of its flagship product, today (Feb. 8, 2011).

Hub Designs was briefed on it recently, much as we receive briefings from other MDM vendors such as Oracle, Informatica, Initiate Systems (now part of IBM), Kalido and Varonis.

This is a big release for Orchestra Networks – the culmination of 18 months of development, and it will define their market strategy for the coming year.

The company made a lot of progress in 2010. It landed ten new customers, including six in the Global 500, and announced partnerships with a number of global and regional systems integrators. A big accomplishment, which we covered here, was being positioned on the Gartner Magic Quadrant for MDM of Product Data. This is quite an achievement, because Gartner’s criteria for inclusion on the Magic Quadrant are quite strict. Orchestra Networks also hired a sales team and established a direct presence in the US and Canada, which helped the company be more accessible to its North American customers. The company also sponsored a white paper titled A Real Multidomain MDM Solution or a Wannabe? by Hub Designs that was published in September.

Orchestra’s 2011 strategy includes increasing its US market presence, growing its Sales and Professional Services teams, a Platinum sponsorship at the Gartner MDM Summit 2011, the launch of EBX5 (a major new release), and new functional solutions for business users.

One thing I found very interesting is that Orchestra Networks has surveyed its customers and found that 80% of them are using EBX for multidomain MDM. Orchestra has also got a solid start on growing its North American presence, with customers like the National Bank of Canada, NetSpend, and Schlumberger, and with more than 30 customers total from a dozen industries worldwide.

One thing I’ve liked about Orchestra Networks since we started to work with them in June 2010 is the company isn’t afraid to take a different approach from other MDM vendors. They call it “MDM Redefined”, and they contrast their product versus the other vendors as allowing full business user ownership of MDM; true multidomain MDM (as opposed to former Product Information Management and Customer Data Integration products, which are too rigid and specific for multiple domains); and providing all MDM features in one product, as opposed to including up to 5 products that need to be integrated. Having talked to some of their customers in depth, I’d say they come pretty close to these goals.

Their product is a 100% web-based solution, which aims to deliver a user-centered experience. A very important part of Orchestra Networks’ design philosophy is that their product is a model-driven solution, which means that the implementing team can build true multidomain MDM hubs. Orchestra likes to call the result: “What You Model is What You Get”, which illustrates the importance of data modeling on both the business and technical sides of your team.

Orchestra Networks aims to provide “Enterprise MDM in One Product”, with all of the following features under a single umbrella, to allow customers to gain complete control of the master data life cycle:

  • Master Data Modeling: semantic modeling with an intuitive web experience, complex data types, relationships and hierarchies, advanced inheritance and calculated values, and a multi-language dictionary
  • Master Data Quality: validation rules enforced at the point of entry (a personal crusade of mine), a business rules editor, a validation engine with reporting capability, and advanced data quality with stewardship workflows and survivorship. No third party data quality tools required.
  • Master Data Authoring: a dynamic user interface, sophisticated hierarchy management, advanced views and data maintenance features, an inheritance engine.
  • Master Data Governance: fine-grained role-based security, built-in collaborative workflow, easy workflow configuration
  • Master Data Timeline: control past, present and future versions of data at the same time, “What If?” impact analysis, “As Of?” record-level history, “Who did What?” real-time monitoring,
  • Master Data Lineage: source/target systems mapping, cross-referencing, impact analysis, auditing
  • Master Data Integration: Data Staging, real-time and bulk data services, ready for variety of middleware platforms, optional EBX5 data integration services (3rd party tool – not yet announced), IT landscape integration
  • Master Data Scalability: vertical scalability (HX for very large data sets, up to 100 million records, deploys to standard RDBMS), and horizontal scalability (Distributed Data Delivery or D3 for clustering for MDM in SOA and geographical federation)

Orchestra Networks has also developed “functional solutions” for the following three use cases, with Global 500 references in each domain, a developing go-to-market partner ecosystem and best practices and data model templates:

  • MDM for Finance & Accounting
  • MDM for Human Resources
  • MDM for Sales & Marketing

I think this is a great move, because many of the elements of a good MDM solution can be replicated from one company to another, and it’s the intended use that drives the solution design.

In the “MDM for Finance & Accounting” use case, the key master data are things like GL accounts, cost centers, organizational hierarchies, and assets. The business drivers include mergers & acquisitions, global vs. local finance, corporate standards & government regulations, and ease of sharing information with other corporate functions and departments. The main features of EBX5 are hierarchy management, version control, built-in workflow, role-based security, auditing, and data lineage.

In the “MDM for HR” use case, the key master data are items like the employee master, organizational structures, and HR reference data and widely used codes. The business drivers include the need to offer new HR services, M&A, HR outsourcing, adapting to local markets & regulations, better business intelligence, and the need to sharing information across the enterprise. The main features of EBX5 are hierarchy management, version control, built-in workflow, role-based security, auditing, and lineage.

In the “MDM for Sales & Marketing” use case, the key master data are items like the products & services master, territories, the party master, and locations. The business drivers include reducing time-to-market, improving BI, multi-channel commerce, global MDM (not just PIM), and sharing with other departments. The main features of EBX5 are data & rules modeling, hierarchy management with inheritance, change management & approvals, and version control.

I saw a demo of EBX5 that was significantly more user friendly than the previous version, while allowing more on-the-fly changes to the underlying data model (provided you have the right security privileges, of course). Orchestra Networks showed how their product can manage complex hierarchies, such as 30,000 cost centers in a geographic hierarchy, and easily move nodes between parents.

The workflow-based master data authoring capability was very compelling, allowing a data governance team to set up exactly how a new customer, product, employee, etc. should be entered into the MDM hub, with data quality and other business rules built into the workflow. From a data governance perspective, even the most complex corporations should be able to model their “real world” operations and design their master data Create/Read/Update/Delete (CRUD) processes using EBX5.

Hub Designs has been working with and following Orchestra Networks for almost a year now, and we’ve been impressed with the integrity and commitment to quality that Orchestra has. The new version of their flagship product, EBX5, reflects that focus, and promises to be even more powerful and flexible than the previous release.

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