Friday, December 31, 2010

Why MDM and SOA are shifting out of IT

Now I've said previously why MDM is required for successful SOA but there is another important piece around MDM and SOA that is happening at the moment and explains both why MDM and SOA haven't historically gone together and, crucially, why the new trends are liable to help bring them together next year.

Why SOA and MDM didn't go together
The first question is why historically MDM and SOA projects tended to not go together. Sure organisations would "do" SOA programmes and would "do" MDM programmes but rarely would the SOA programmes and MDM programmes be tightly joined. There are I think three reasons for this

1 - Different bits of IT
The first challenge is that MDM and SOA were normally done by different bits of IT with different mentalities. MDM was done by the "data" folks who worried about data warehouses and saw data as the most important thing in the world. SOA was done by the enterprise integration and architecture folks who worried about operational processes and integration. The MDM folks tended to have a post-transactional view of the world where things were "true" or "false" while the SOA folks tended to view things as "in processes" or "completed".

These different communities in IT have very different backgrounds and focuses. ETL, Data Warehouses and big databases rule in the MDM/Data side while fast transaction throughput is the key for the SOA folks.

2 - Different bits of vendors
The next challenge is that the vendors have exactly the same split in their view of the world. Look at IBM for instance. SOA is in the WebSphere brand while MDM is in the InfoSphere brand, two very different parts of IBM Software with independent management structures and teams, sure the idea is that they should co-operate and work together but we all know that different divisions in companies like to do things differently. This also means that you often get different sales people for the different pieces of software. Oracle for instance put MDM in the Applications area while SOA is in the Middleware space, if you want to use their MDM products with their middleware products (for instance using the MDM PIP) this means you have to deal with two different sales people to get what you want.

3 - They've been IT projects
The final reason is that MDM and SOA have traditionally been internal IT programmes owned and managed by IT and largely invisible to the business. This means that the two cultural elements above are then hard-baked into the solution which ensures that the SOA and MDM programmes are kept distinct.

Why its changing
So why is it changing? Well the first reason is that people have started finally realising that SOA is a business thing and needs to be viewed from a business architecture perspective. This has been a long time coming but finally it appears people are thinking about the challenges of business services, service value and the business architecture. At the same time MDM is shifting as well, firstly its shifting away from post transactional into an operational space which means it needs to consider operational processes and performance in a way it hasn't before, this means that the MDM/Data folks now have to not only talk to the SOA folks but they have to... shock horror... actually become MDM/SOA folks.

MDM is also shifting in that business people want to do more active information management, both in terms of newer analytical tools and secondly in terms of including that mastered and high-quality information into core operational processes. This means that the business realises that the old "data landfill" approaches which were poor before are massively hindering the analytical models and have a direct impact on the efficiency of the operational processes. By taking control recognising that Information needs Mastering the business is now actively taking over those processes and thus MDM is moving out of the background into being a key part of the corporate information strategy.

So that is why MDM and SOA are shifting out of IT, its because being within IT made them technically centric programmes that often failed to deliver the promised value. By enabling the business to more actively own its IT estate, through Business SOA, and its core information, through MDM, it suddenly ceases to be a question of competing IT cultures but a simple question of how to present a consistent operational and analytical view of the business.

SOA and MDM are made to be together.... that fixes the enterprise culture... but will it fix the vendors?

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent ;) Had that thought a lot of times before, too.
You nailed it pretty tight. A lot of vendors have this two perspective problem, SAP has it too by differating its own middleware and its Business Objects aquired ETL products...!