On Dell Boomi’s Master Data Management and the Convergence of Data Management and Data Integration

Many people in the cloud application integration space pour scorn on their more traditional competitors. The new guys like to laugh with derision at anyone who talk about data warehousing, Master data management (MDM) or anything less than real time. But a chat I had with Dell Boomi recently got me thinking about how valid that derision really is.

The briefing I had was about the news that Dell was launching its “next-generation” Dell Boomi MDM offering Essentially the new product is aimed at mid sized companies and allows them to take advantage of MDM functionality – something that previously was outside of their skill set or budget. As Philip Russom said in the TDWI Best Practices Report focusing on next generation master data management:

Given their complexity and cost, most master data management solutions are simply out of reach for midmarket customer

Anyway, the Dell Boomi MDM offering focuses on four core steps:

  • Define – model master data entities through a visual experience with no coding necessary
  • Deploy – deploy models into the MDM repository and identify which source systems will interact with them
  • Synchronize – orchestrate data synchronization and design process flows that ensure data quality
  • Govern – govern data as it flows into the MDM system to resolve duplicates, fix data entry issues as well as identify and correct erroneous data

MyPOV

I’ve been guilty of writing off any offering that doesn’t look at data integration as a single step between applications, but the reality is that data management is, to coin a phrase, “a thing”. Despite how much we’d like data to simply move between applications with no massaging, the reality is that data manipulation is something that happens every day in the real world. Data formats change, particular systems have requirements for particular ways of expressing data and one piece of data (say a phone number for instance) might have to be delivered in multiple formats to different third party solutions.

Which is where Master Data Management comes in. In my call with Chris McNabb, director of product management for Dell Boomi, he rightly pointed out that most existing MDM solutions, apart from being expensive, entered the orbit of an integration player by acquisition – as such they tend to have different architectural paradigms and different ways of interacting with data – I kind of buy the Boomi spin that a single solution from a single vendor, with a single pedigree is a compelling proposition. A consistent look and feel, centralized user management and single sign on all make it easier to adopt and use a broad integration platform.

In the integration space there seem to be two distinct approaches – the real-time API-driven approach that most often is seen at the smaller end of town (products like SnapLogic for example) and the larger (and generally slow) approaches around building data warehouses. Dell Boomi’s perspective is that there is a third way – one that sucks data out of the source system, lightly manipulates it in the MDM product and then delivers the cleansed data out to one or many different third party solutions.

I suspect that, over time, the requirement for this intermediate step will reduce as solutions find ways to reconcile the differences in the ways that data is presented and parsed. In the meantime however, no matter how much we hate to admit it, MDM has a place. And Dell Boomi, with MDM tied closely to integration, is providing a compelling tool to the mid market.