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Monday, May 18, 2009

SQL Server 2008 R2 Master Data Services - Aka: Microsoft MDM, Project BullDog

Recently, Jeff O. over that MSDynamicsWorld started the conversation about MDM vs. IDM. I covered this on the following blog entry:

In that I went deeper into the need for understanding the technology behind MDM, and what will make up MDM in order for a company to create policies and procedures for managing their 'Master Data'.

Well Microsoft last week, at TechEd, took the covers off of Project "BullDog" and we now have 'Master Data Services'. This will be a part of SQL Server 2008 R2, and be managed, ran and used from SQL Server point of view.

'Master Data Services' is Microsoft's offering for 'Master Data Management'. Here's from the Microsoft MDM home page:
"In June 2007, Microsoft announced the acquisition of Stratature, a privately held company based in Alpharetta, Georgia, and a leading provider of master data management (MDM) software. This was the first step in Microsoft establishing a presence in the master data management space, and will accelerate Microsoft’s delivery of technology in the MDM market. The Microsoft MDM product codename is “Bulldog”. Bulldog includes Microsoft process and standards applied to the Stratature code base as well as several important new capabilities. Microsoft customers want a solution that leverages their technology investment, integrates with their software assets, is easy to install and maintain, and provides a low total cost of ownership. Bulldog will meet these requirements while building on a long‐term vision for master data management at Microsoft.

On initial scoping, it was determined that 'Bulldog' would ship as part of Microsoft Office SharePoint in the O14 wave. At TechEd 2009, we announced a change in packaging for the new MDM capabilities. Project 'Bulldog' will now ship as part of the next release of SQL Server codenamed ‘Kilimanjaro’ as 'SQL Server Master Data Services.'

This means that in addition to new capabilities such as Self Service BI and multi-server management, SQL Server ‘Kilimanjaro’ will also provide customers with a rich platform for MDM through SQL Server Master Data Services. Customers who have purchased Software Assurance (SA) should view this as net new value and innovation that they will have access to as a result of their investments in SA."

Great bit of information there, specifically about the move from office SharePoint to residing at the SQL Server level. This was the correct move. This should live at the SQL Server level.

Also note the bolded text, those customers that invested with Software Assurance will get this, as part of their next SQL Server Upgrade. Great value add there!

The link to the Microsoft MDM or Master Data Services for SQL Server 2008 R2, can be found here: www.microsoft.com/mdm

Here is a list of top features from that page:
"-Master Data Hub that provides central management of master data entities and hierarchies and provides a comprehensive role based security model that ensures fine-grained, secure access to master data.

-Flexible Data Model completely defined in a metadata driven data model. Data administrators are free to define the data model in any way that satisfies the needs of their organization. As new business entities appear or current business entities change, the master data hub data model can change to accommodate the new business requirements.

-Business Rules that ensure the quality of data entered in the master data hub. The business rules engine is efficient and flexible.

-Human workflow that notifies assigned owners of business rule violations by email. Notifications can be sent for every violation or grouped together for periodic notification.

-Versioning of all data entities and hierarchies. New versions can be created by an administrator whenever they are required.

-Hierarchy Management supports both level-based and ragged parent child hierarchies and is managed by an intuitive drag and drop interface.

-Security model is flexible and can be enforced at a very granular level. Security is integrated with Active Directory.

Security, Versioning, Workflow, Flexible data model, all the aspects of an MDM solution a company needs in order to have true policies, procedures and technologies to achieve Master Data Management.

Notice the tag into the self-service BI. This was a voiced concern by a lot of people, 'different versions of the truth' that people were complaining about would exists with this self-service BI. Master Data Services is the solution to that possible issue, that techology, being implemented correctly with customer specific policies and procedures for managing it.

There is a ton of things to check out on the Microsoft MDM home page, so I suggest going there, and learning as much as you can.

Also read from Kirk Haselden, Microsoft Product Manager for for Master Data Services.:
Master Data Services – What’s the big deal?

"As corporate information ecosystems become more complex, so goes the management of company lists. Master lists are used, accessed, managed, changed and unfortunately corrupted in myriad ways throughout the company in various divisions and in various locations. For example, customer data may be used in the front office for direct contact with customers or in the back office in marketing, billing and other business processes. ERP and CRM systems do a great job of providing the functionality around how you use say, the product master or customer master. That’s what they were designed to do. However, they don’t do a great job of actually managing the forces that impact the master data itself. Four of the most important of those forces are decay, conflict, corruption and inconsistency."

He goes on...
"Traditional applications manage master data and these forces insufficiently. What is needed to solve these problems is an application that focuses on managing these forces with a set of tools that is specifically designed to ensure that the master data remains authoritative, is available in a secure way across the enterprise and is integrated with the applications that use it. Often the term “One source of the truth” is used to describe what master data management applications deliver. I prefer the term “authoritative source of master data”. Having one source isn’t always desirable nor is it always realistic. Master data isn’t truth. It’s simply data that represents the world at a given time slice. The trick and it’s a difficult one, is to keep the master data authoritative. Authoritative data is reliable, represents the state of the world at the time it’s referenced and is delivered in a secure, integrated and performant way."

So your thinking this is all great, but how does this apply Brandon? Well Master Data Services will apply, as Jeff pointed out in his article, as more and more SOA or Service Based ssolutions come into play. And read back to the top, where I interviewed Lachlan Cash and talked about SOA and Dynamics AX.

That will be the Service Bus for Dynamics AX WCF Services / SOA will be. And that means, MDM offered through Master Data Service for SQL Server 2008 R2 will offer the ability to a Microsoft customer to manage their Dynamics AX instance, master data with.

This will also apply to BI, which I have been heavily writing about, and any custom SOA projects that a customer would be working on.

So as you can see, it so very important you have a Partner that can understand all of this. Someone that can take and guide you through all this technology, to do proper planning, to understand your technical needs that are demanded from your business functionality desired. Sunrise Technologies, Inc. is that kind of partner that has the Technical and Functional depth and expertise that can help you.

Check back soon, as Master Data Service will be something covered more often and sooner rather than later. I will go into the pratical, by examples of how this will be used with a Dynamics AX instance, include BI and get into even a custom SOA and how all three can come together for a customer and offer "one source of the truth."

See you soon!

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