Posted by: Charles Maitland | Thursday 9 October, 2008

Why Microsoft isn’t “Into” Master Data Management

First off a disclaimer. I am NOT a Master Data Management (MDM) expert – far from it. I am just a pre-sales consultant that has to raise the concept on almost every engagement I am involved with.

Having got that out of the way I was intrigued to read this post from Mick Horne at Conchango. Now I take anything a Conchango employee says VERY seriously as they are all very bright lights and lots of what they do and say makes my brain hurt!

In the post he reflects


Having sat through three keynotes, I’m now concerned that I haven’t heard any mention of two areas that are important to the work I’ve been doing for the last 3 or 4 years and in one of those cases which I thought would be fundamental to Microsoft’s strategy for BI going forward.

The glaring omission is Master Data Management.  In 2007 Microsoft purchased Stratature, one of the leading MDM tools on the SQL Server platform which looked at the time incredibly sensible since it filled a big gap in Microsoft’s portfolio for BI and data integration.

I’m left wondering where Microsoft see Stratature (now "Micorosft MDM") fitting into their vision for BI; clearly it’s not near the top of the priority list. There have been several posts on these blog pages about what MDM is and where it fits into data integration architecture, and one of its key roles is in the enablement of data services as part of an SOA.  This is the second omission from any of the keynotes so far and I’ll come back to it. ( emphasis MINE)

Now I would agree that there did not seem (based on someone who was not there) to be much shouting about this and I think the responses Mick got at the Q&A session reflected this but I suspect there were 3(probably more) reasons for this.

Firstly the marketing drive of the conference was the democratization of BI. As such MDM is seen as a back end tool and, quite frankly, not sexy. If there had been keynotes about it then the “message” might have been lost.

The second reason I think is that the perception, and in 80% of the cases the correct perception, is that the core of MDM is NOT a technical problem. It is first and foremost a business problem. The issue is far less a technical one but one of balancing the client’s internal politics and balancing the needs of the project sponsor with those of the rest of the business.

If you have a successful client team and good senior management then the business issues can be resolved and then, and only then, it moves to a technical issue.

The third reason I think is that the purchase of Stratature has not yet bedded down. I suspect (based on no evidence I admit) that there is still considerable discussion about where in the product line up it will sit, how it is going to be developed and what is going to happed to features that overlap other MS products. This seems a bit like ProClarity. Lots of work getting the product embedded into the Microsoft way, lots of code reviews, quality checks and documentation updates before it can even appear on the Microsoft pricelist.

In conclusion I think the reasons Microsoft didn’t get MDM at the BI conference is that:

  1. Its not sexy end user self serve stuff
  2. Its not relevant to the audience they were pitching at (see 1)
  3. Its primarily a “soft” business issue that Microsoft don’t really care about (No revenue)
  4. It was not invented there. The cultural shift has not been achieved and the overlaps with other Microsoft products has not yet been




  1. Hi Charlie. Definitely agree that MDM doesn’t have the wow factor of Gemini or Madison, but at a conference setting out the Microsoft vision for BI for the next 2-3 years, I would have expected it to feature a little more prominently.

    I’m not sure I agree that they don’t care about it. If that was the case they wouldn’t have bought the product – however it will probably be packaged with something else (SharePoint?) rather than be a cash cow like Office.

  2. Hi Charlie

    Even I feel MDM is soemthing which cannot be overlooked given the large amount of benefits it has to offer.

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