MDM on the Cloud

In today’s world, there is greater awareness towards MDM than ever before. MDM technologies have also gained maturity over the years. Cloud infrastructures are becoming the mainstream with advancements in supporting technologies and reduction in bandwidth costs. These factors are contributing to a lot of buzz around MDM and particularly about MDM on the cloud. When organizations take on the MDM journey, there are many decision factors that they need to consider. Adopting the cloud model is a major decision, as it requires careful planning covering areas such as strategy, architecture, implementation and sustainment. Are you considering cloud as an option for your MDM deployments? How is the cloud factor, influencing decisions today and how will this movement shape in the future?

Life in enterprise landscape

From clients who are ready to start with the initial phase of their MDM program, we often hear this: How soon can we achieve key business goals? With the right platform and effective consultation, we can help clients streamline the development cycle to drastically reduce implementation time and costs. However in many enterprises, rollout of new applications and systems require extensive planning around hardware & software procurement, installation, configuration and training.  From planning to acquisition to rollout, these processes often require collaboration between multiple functional teams, due to which project timelines get delayed. As a result, even as the short development cycle is in alignment with business objectives, project deliveries get impacted due to infrastructure for development, QA and / or production steps.

So who is walking on cloud

Business applications have gradually been moving to the cloud over the past years. This momentum has increased over time and more mission-critical processes are moving to the cloud. For instance, company data from Dun & Bradstreet is now available in SalesForce.com cloud allowing businesses to uniquely identify over 200 million business enterprises. Another application example is Acxiom cloud service. It enables consuming enterprise systems to make cloud service calls that help in customer identification. Acxiom maintains a collection of 500 million consumer contacts in one of the largest data centers in the world. It’s highly valuable for corporations to tap into this dataset but it is quite difficult (if not impossible) to fully implement this integration without a cloud solution.

Beyond business applications, enterprise cloud infrastructure is also popular with strong offerings now available in the market.  Services like Amazon EC2 & IBM SmartCloud, where customer can purchase desired hardware size, operating systems and support options are available for businesses to integrate with their legacy infrastructure. These on demand solutions greatly improve the enterprise’s IT agility. It allows them to augment their infrastructure and rapidly address critical business needs. In this era, cloud base technological advancements have helped remove major barriers that had previously prevented its inclusion in enterprise deployments. Most businesses see security as the top consideration which is definitely one of the many areas where decision makers have to ensure their enterprise security standards are met. From business applications to infrastructure components, more organizations are leveraging cloud based applications & services for their mission critical processes.

The MDM journey

In typical in-house deployment solutions, we frequently find businesses struggling to align resources to build and deploy hardware/software for their MDM projects. Often times, business stakeholders have little appetite for these constraints as they prohibit them from achieving their business goals. With MDM on readily available infrastructure, companies can drastically reduce implementation cost, time and project risks. For typical MDM implementations, tasks like initial load and bulk cross matching to create indices are very common. These steps are known to be resource intensive one-time activities which are required at the initial stage of implementation as well as just before go live date.  In order to accommodate these requirements using on-premise infrastructure, clients often have to do extra planning and acquire additional hardware for the processing period. Any delays in procuring such hardware affect the overall timelines and increase project risks. With cloud based MDM, such risks are greatly minimized. In some cases, clients are opting to perform only resource intensive activities on the cloud to ease the stress on their infrastructure. Stress testing or bulk-cross matching is amongst the popular choices to start with.

So what’s MDM on the cloud?

MDM on cloud can be a secure, robust option for delivering scalable and speedy time-to-value solutions for enterprises. When compared to cloud based MDM solutions, in-house MDM deployments require you to spend more effort in configuration and tuning the new hardware/software during implementation phase. MDM on cloud essentially eliminates a lot of risks by utilizing expert teams that have experience building and deploying MDM applications. On the cloud, MDM can still be customized to fit specific business rules and integrated with other enterprise applicable systems as required. Flexible architecture options are available to accommodate specific SLA requirements and enterprise needs. With a hosted model, clients are finding that the biggest benefit is actually not in the project phase, but in the simplicity of sustaining the system in the long run. Cloud MDM allows for flexible support model and clients can easily adopt MDM software upgrades over product lifecycles. All these can greatly reduce project risks and up-keep costs.

Many of the early adaptors who are introducing cloud technologies in their MDM programs are identifying reference data management as a good candidate to start on the cloud. Reference Data Management (RDM) solutions refer to the management of corporate reference data and do not have PII (Personally Identifiable Info) considerations which are present in other MDM projects. The relatively lighter implementation scope also helps to demonstrates results quickly in the new platform. A number of major MDM vendors are now coming out with cloud base MDM offerings. Customers can compare these cloud based options against on premise solutions and select the option that best suit their needs.

Is it right for you?

It is important for organizations to consider the benefits & challenges of MDM on the cloud and make a decision that is best fit for their unique requirements and capabilities.  For instance, one MDM best practice I try to highlight to my clients is “Legacy Application integration”.Engage your application groups early and clearly defining the requirement is critical. This will help bring clarity to your organization’s integration and architecture options which will have a great impact on your MDM program. Here are some common considerations:

  • Existing investments in cloud
  • Current architectural standards
  • Data privacy/security requirements
  • Type of master data in use
  • Jurisdictional factors
  • Types of integrations required

I have seen a situation where cloud MDM cannot be an effective option due to specific privacy requirements. It is critical to identify this type of constraint early so your solution can be successful.

Many businesses today are ready to adopt cloud applications in a big way and are considering MDM on cloud as well.If you are involved in the decision making process and you are not certain if you have covered all the key factors, there is help! Many MDM experts in the cloud space are now available who can assist in the assessment phase and help design a solution that is right for your organization.

CDI, Cloud, MDM Server

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