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IBM gets behind master data

To the buyer belong the spoils, especially when the buyer in question has ponied up $1 billion or more. So it was that IBM co-opted last week's Ascential World customer confab and turned it into a showcase for its stack of data integration products.

For many attendees, IBM's first-ever Information Integration Live! event marked a coming-out party for Big Blue's master data management strategy, and not a moment too soon. MDM is fast going mainstream: large ISVs such as SAP and Oracle already market MDM-specific offerings of their own, while business intelligence players such as Hyperion Solutions, Informatica, Teradata and others have announced MDM-related initiatives.

There's also a sense in which IBM, with its array of federated data access, content management and metadata management technologies, almost seems late to the party. Dan Druker, director of master data management with IBM, disputes this idea. For starters, Druker says, MDM is a good fit for Big Blue's overall information integration strategy. “IBM has historically talked about On Demand, and what we're seeing is that as companies move to service-oriented architectures, they're seeing information more and more as a service, and this [information service-enablement] is really what we've been trying to do with all of our integration technologies.”

There is, after all, a lot at stake. Druker points to a recent study from International Data Corp., which found that the market for MDM-related solutions could reach $10 billion by 2009. In a certain sense, he says, this is a no-brainer: MDM's fortunes are yoked to those of SOA, which, over the last few years, especially, has experienced an explosion in popularity. “For companies that are trying to get to an SOA, how are you going to quickly assemble new applications if your master data is wrong?” he asks.

IBM's MDM push isn't a vapor initiative. At last week's event, Big Blue announced several new or updated MDM offerings, including WebSphere Customer Center (a new product for customer-centric data), WebSphere Product Center (an updated offering for product-centric data), and WebSphere Metadata Server (a not-yet-available product for service-enabled metadata management). WebSphere Customer Center is a first-ever IBM offering, but it's not a new product. Instead, it's based on DWL's Customer Center 6.0. Druker says IBM has done some integration work to tie it in with the rest of its WebSphere integration stack. Similarly, WebSphere Product Center-which is based on technology IBM acquired from the former Trigo-has also been available for some time.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a contributing editor for Enterprise Systems. He can be reached at stephen.swoyer@spinkle.net.

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