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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Master Data Management with Dynamics AX and MDS (Future)

Recently I interviewed Mike Ehrenberg, Microsoft Dynamics Distinguished Engineer. That interview can be found at the following post.: Interview with Microsoft Distinguished Engineer - Mike Ehrenberg

As promised, I am taking different aspects of that interview and diving into the different topics that were talked about. In one section of the interview, Mike talks about.:

"[T]he ability to drive our innovation in this area together with innovation across Microsoft in areas like Master Data Management enables to drive great solutions through Microsoft Dynamics."

So the 'this' part, that Mike is talking about was from a question I asked around SOA, AIF, and the Vision laid out by Lachlan Cash, in an interview I did last year. (Microsoft's strategy and vision for Dynamics AX and SOA)

This is the only section, during that interview, in which Master Data Services is mentioned. However, this I believe is going to be a big item, that more and more companies, of varing sizes, will focus on.

So we can rewind a little bit, and look at a post I did, nearly a year ago, talking about SQL Server Master Data Services, which was project 'BullDog' for Microsoft, that is the enabling technology that Microsoft will soon be releasing to manufacturing as part of SQL Server 2008 R2. That post can be found here.:
SQL Server 2008 R2 Master Data Services - Aka: Microsoft MDM, Project BullDog

In that post, I go into the need and why for MDM, and what SQL Server MDS will bring to the table. I actually referenced a good bit of information from different Microsoft sources, that hopefully helps bring to light what could be possible with MDS and why.

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So now, here we are, a few days from Convergence 2010 in Atlanta, and mid-summer set for SQL Server 2008 R2 release, that will include SQL Server MDS. What does this means for Dynamics AX?

In the simplest terms MDM is meant to enable "One source of the truth." Now lets think about the role that Dynamics AX plays in a customers overall enterprise solution.

Some customers, Dynamics AX is the end all, be all business package. Older systems are migrated away from, and placed those processes and data inside Dynamics AX. When this is the case, there are still some need for MDM, and so MDS will have relevance. And how is that? Well if that given client has one or more websites / portals? What about CRM? What about a small cloud application?

In this Dynamics AX is the hub, and these other applications are the spokes systems. Now could be that an arguement could be made that CRM is the hub for certain information right?

And that is true, so depending on the data need, and where the true hub, or owenership of data should really live, will depend on how your data mapping of hub and spoke will exists.

Lets also add another possibility, what about the recent Marketing that Microsoft is doing, where Dynamics ERP can be used in a two tier level? Where Dynamics AX is positioned to be the spoke for Divisons of large corp? Also what about Dynamics AX instance that span the world? If for example there is a Dynamics AX production system in China, one in Latin America and then one in the U.S.?

In the past, for enabling integration, a lot of this was code driven. You could / can use BizTalk, along with AIF, X++, .Net, MSMQ, and any number of paths to help manage, not just the transactional data, in which these are designed to enable, but the Master data. There was not a seperation of these two, and is not, in regard to how they flow from one system to the next.

The vision, as I am seeing it, for MDS is enabling the seperation of how the Master data, true Master data elements, flow through a companies enterprise. This includes on-premise and cloud based.

So the transactional integration, now is different than the Master Data flow through a given company.

With MDS, a whole new world will open up for Master Data Management. I mean, look at the list of possibility, with versioning, workflows, business rules, role based access and listed control. Such things, in the past, where developed and not configured.

And this is the overall big move we are seeing, look back at a recent post I did, SQL Server Modeling - Coming to a Dynamics AX near you! , in that we see that SQL Server Modeling is coming to Dynamics AX, and the goal is to reduce the need for custom code, enable model driven application development, and allow for Domain Specific Languages to address problem domains for business.

Similar, we are seeing with the MDS offering, that Dynamics AX will be a point in which MDS can connect to and allow proper flow of Master data elements in and out of Dynamics AX. Some where Dynamics AX is the Hub, and some where Dynamics AX is the spoke.

A lot is coming to Dynamics AX, and very soon. Master Data Management, through SQL Server Master Data Services is one of them. For this reason, I did create a new LinkedIn group.:

LinkedIn group: SQL Server Master Data Services Group

Feel free to join if you like, and help foster the growth and knowledge of SQL Server Master Data Services. This group is not limited to Dynamics AX focus, but is meant to focus on all aspects of SQL Server MDS. However I am sure plenty will revolve around Dynamics AX, CRM, the Cloud, and beyond!

I expect that people will be talking about MDM, and you will hear about some of this at Convergence. After SQL Server 2008 R2 is released this summer, and we get closer to Dynamics AX 6, we will start to see some offical information from Microsoft, getting into more details on exactly how MDS and also SQL Server Modeling will be used with Dynamics AX.

That's all for now, but I invite you to leave comments, send me an email, and of course join the LinkedIn group and start good discussions, news, etc. See you next time!

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