Building vs. Buying a Master Data Management Solution

Many organizations prefer to build their own MDM solutions. The argument is that they know their data quality issues and their data better than anyone. Plus a focused solution will cost less in the long run then a vendor supplied general purpose product. This is not unreasonable if you think of MDM as a point solution for a particular data quality problem. But this approach carries significant risk. We now know that organizations achieve significant competitive advantages when they deploy MDM as a strategic enterprise wide solution: with the most common best practice being to deploy a tactical MDM solution and grow it into a full information architecture. A build your own approach most certainly will not scale to a larger architecture unless it is done correctly with the larger solution in mind.

It is possible to build a home grown point MDM solution in such a way that it will dovetail into broader MDM architectures. A very good place to start is to use the same basic technologies that Oracle uses to build its own MDM solutions. Start with the Oracle 11g database to create a flexible, extensible and open data model to hold the master data and all needed attributes. The Oracle database is the most flexible, highly available and scalable database system on the market. With its Real Application Clusters (RAC) it can even support the mixed OLTP and BI workloads that represent typical MDM data access profiles. Use Oracle Data Integration (ODI) for batch data movement between applications, MDM data stores, and the BI layer. Use Oracle Golden Gate for more real-time data movement. Use Oracle's SOA Suite for application integration with its: BPEL Process Manager to orchestrate MDM connections to business processes; Identity Management for managing users; WS Manager for managing web services; Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition for analytics; and JDeveloper for creating or extending the MDM management application. Oracle utilizes these technologies to build its MDM Hubs.  Customers who build their own MDM solution using these components will easily migrate to Oracle provided MDM solutions when the home grown solution runs out of gas.

But, even with a full stack of open flexible MDM technologies, creating a robust MDM application can be a daunting task. For example, a basic MDM solution will need: a set of data access methods that support master data as a service as well as direct real time access as well as batch loads and extracts; a data migration service for initial loads and periodic updates; a metadata management capability for items such as business entity matrixed relationships and hierarchies; a source system management capability to fully cross-reference business objects and to satisfy seemingly conflicting data ownership requirements; a data quality function that can find and eliminate duplicate data while insuring correct data attribute survivorship; a set of data quality functions that can manage structured and unstructured data; a data quality interface to assist with preventing new errors from entering the system even when data entry is outside the MDM application itself; a continuing data cleansing function to keep the data up to date; an internal triggering mechanism to create and deploy change information to all connected systems; a comprehensive role based data security system to control and monitor data access, update rights, and maintain change history; a flexible business rules engine for managing master data processes such as privacy and data movement; a user interface to support casual users and data stewards; a business intelligence structure to support profiling, compliance, and business performance indicators; and an analytical foundation for directly analyzing master data.

Oracle's pre-built MDM Hub solutions are full-featured 3-tier Internet applications designed to participate in the full Oracle technology stack or to run independently in other open IT SOA environments. Building MDM solutions from scratch can take years. Oracle's pre-built MDM solutions can bring quality data to the enterprise in a matter of months. But if you must build, at lease build with the world's best technology stack in a way that simplifies the eventual upgrade to Oracle MDM and to the full enterprise wide information architecture that it enables.

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