MDM and SOA Integration
One of the roles of an MDM Hub is the Harmonization of changes to Master Data between applications. This is sometimes misconstrued as an alternative approach to synchronizing changes via a service oriented architecture (SOA). MDM is not a competitive approach to SOA, in fact MDM has an important role in simplifying the implementation of SOA in the enterprise.
By Martin Dunn
As an Enterprise MDM software provider, we are frequently involved in enterprise architecture discussions with our clients. I’ve been in enough of these sessions to recognize when the role of MDM is in danger of becoming obscured by the promises of service oriented architecture (SOA). When this happens, we try to reiterate the supportive role of MDM within a SOA strategy.
It is easy for a SOA advocate to become carried away with the elegance of an architecture in which all applications can speak to each other through a services layer and in doing so achieve enterprise harmony. However, there are two major stumbling blocks, one of which forms the central theme of this article.
One of the challenges SOA architects face, and this is not an MDM related issue, is that many legacy applications are fundamentally batch-oriented and do not lend themselves to a services layer which is transactional in nature. Adding to the impracticality of implementing SOA for legacy applications is that many of the CICS, VSAM, COBOL professionals that would be required to re-engineer these ageing applications, have long since retired to the golf courses of Florida.
Notwithstanding the difficultly of SOA enabling certain legacy applications, even modern applications that do have the ability to exchange service calls, do not always agree on the data they will exchange (for more on this see opt-in sync).
In the absence of an MDM hub, all of the logic necessary to transform, cleanse, match and validate data packets passed from one application to another, must be built into SOA wrappers or the Enterprise Service Bus – in effect building MDM processes from the ground up without the luxury of a persistent database, workflow engine, reference databases, cleanse and match rules etc.
This point is often glossed over in a SOA design because the complexity of master data integration grows exponentially as we add systems and data. Any single set of translations from one system to another are simple in isolation, but as we add new applications, and data of differing granularity, and divergent definitions of relationships between records, and many other typical MDM scenarios, the complexity and volume of code required in the SOA architecture increases dramatically.
The inclusion of an MDM Hub into the SOA architecture simplifies the problem by centralizing the data integration issues into a purpose-built platform that can participate in the SOA exchange.
An MDM Hub supports a SOA design by offloading the complexities of integrating master data between disparate applications from the enterprise service bus (ESB) or application wrappers. SOA architects should pay careful attention to data integration issues that extend beyond connectivity and message delivery, as it is rare that master data can be exchanged without significant transformation to achieve alignment between applications.
Martin Dunn was the co-founder of Delos Technology which developed the MDM technology marketed under the Siperian brand. The Delos MDM technology introduced many MDM concepts that are now widespread within the MDM discipline including a data steward console to adjudicate match results, opt-in synchronization, cell level delta detection and the concept of measuring trust.
Martin is now a partner with Gaine Solutions and continues to advance the techniques by which enterprise Master Data is managed.
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