SOA and MDM: A Match Made in Heaven?

MDM will manage all the integration, cleansing, and maintaining of this subject data asynchronously allowing the service to run much faster. In addition, such integration will possibly have to be duplicated in case of reports, analytics, and other non-services oriented processes which could result in inconsistent data presented by different processes.

On the other hand, the services approach will allow an organization to plan and implement MDM for a subject area iteratively and in several stages. Since a unique set of services will be developed (or utilized) to access a certain subject area, at each progress point, only those services have to be changed and the down stream applications utilizing the services will not be affected.

Governance: Governance is defined as the act of oversight over each set of services, processes, and associated data. In this case, the governance factor is key to success of SOA and MDM.

It is essential to SOA since we need to define business processes as part of these services, and it is essential to MDM as governance will help define and protect this information asset.

It becomes easy then to understand why the same governing body overseeing the business process associated with the specific business service should be the body governing the data managed and accessed by those services. This approach will remove duplication of effort, reduce the learning curve, and empower business teams to govern both the services and data associated with a certain key subject.

IT and Business Partnership: Another key success factor for both SOA and MDM has been identified as the partnership between business and IT teams.

Unlike the past when business teams provided requirements to the IT group and waited in the wings for the delivery of an application, in recent years, business teams have become partners in such delivery. They are fully involved in the planning, budgeting, approach, and the ultimate delivery of the application.

In addition, advanced technologies allow business teams to define business processes almost dynamically with minimal support from IT departments. As such, in many organizations, development teams include a number of business users acting above and beyond the traditional role of subject matter experts and quite often both the business and IT managers are responsible for the delivery of the application to the executives.

This partnership emphasizes the strength of the SOA and MDM marriage. Both approaches are very business-centric and neither is successful without a strong partnership between IT and business.

As a matter of fact, since SOA is built on business processes, lack of such partnership will cause the failure of the approach. In addition, without business’s help, IT will never be able to manage master data and that approach will also fail. As such, we should take advantage of this partnership by combining the architectural and the data side of the IT department.

In my next article, we will focus on practical approaches for implementing and maintaining SOA and MDM from a budgetary, planning, and maintenance standpoint.

Majid Abai is president and CEO of Seena Technologies, an enterprise information management and architecture consulting firm. Majid co-authored Data Strategy (Addison-Wesley, 2005) and teaches classes in Business Intelligence and Enterprise Data Architecture at UCLA.