April 8th, 2022 | 4 min read
Goodbye Master Data Services...hello Modern Data Management!
When any major product is nearing the end of its lifecycle and is declared “end of support”, it’s a pretty clear signal that it’s considered to be older technology with limited ability to deliver against modern business requirements. In some cases, the vendor developing the product will release a newer version with improved features and benefits, offering a natural migration path for its customers. In others, the decision has been made to cease developing the product altogether.
This is the case for Microsoft SQL Server Master Data Services (MDS). In June 2021 Microsoft stated that, in October of the same year, Master Data Services would reach end of support and would only be in a limited maintenance mode in the current version. This means that there is no future roadmap for the product, no new enhancements and – in this case – that several features will be deprecated. The alternative to MDS is to migrate to Azure and capitalise on the numerous data management and analytics services on offer – including Azure Purview, Data Factory, Databricks and Power BI to name just a few. In order to take full advantage of these services, customers are strongly advised to find a recognised Azure partner offering master data functionalities which can effectively pull together the data ready for consumption and insight using these services.
There are lots of reasons why a product reaching end of support should give its customers cause for concern – increased data protection and security risks, decreased productivity, and compatibility and scalability issues to name a few. While using end of support technology is generally considered to be a bad idea, it is also a great opportunity to re-evaluate whether your needs have changed and if it’s time to look at alternative options that might be better suited to what your business is trying to achieve now and in the future.
Modern data management is a prime example of this. MDS is still a credible and reliable data management solution with many loyal customers. And – end of support issues notwithstanding – if all you’re looking for is on-premises data management functionality such as model versioning, business rules, data quality services, workflows, hierarchies, and a neat Excel plugin then MDS will probably meet your requirements. But master data management (MDM) has SO MUCH more to offer than that, and it’d be crazy not to consider what you could achieve by migrating to a modern, Azure-native MDM solution specifically developed to eradicate many of the challenges associated with traditional MDM.
Build a single view of…anything
Long considered to be the unattainable yet much-sought-after goal of MDM, building a single view has a bit of bad rep as it’s a stretch too far for most platforms. While that’s true, it isn’t the case for all platforms. Common problems with building a single view include an inability to support both structured and unstructured data, complex upfront modelling requirements, and the need to manually tell the platform how the data is connected. Modern MDM systems use innovative techniques like zero modelling and eventual connectivity to take that pain away and reveal the sum of the parts.
Unifying data siloes
Most organisations have complex systems and data sources which make up their data landscape. And within those systems data can be entered, categorised, stored and processed in different ways. Trying to pull all of that together into a master, or “golden” record has typically been an intensive and complicated undertaking - not least because data changes all the time. It’s a bit like painting the Golden Gate Bridge, no sooner have you finished than you have to go back to the beginning and start again. Not anymore. By using prebuilt connectors and automated data blending and standardisation, data can be unified quickly and seamlessly, allowing you to raise your data to its highest level of fidelity.
Delivering data that is ready for anything
Fixing data quality is another one of those seemingly endless tasks which is never really done. But here’s the thing – most data errors are not unique, they’re the same errors that crop up time and time again. Modern MDM recognises this, finds the data that needs addressing and automatically fixes common errors like addresses, phone numbers and salutations. Of course not all data can be corrected automatically, which is why anything that can’t be fixed needs to be flagged and packaged into discrete tasks for data stewards to rectify.
These are just a few reasons why customers of MDS – and other traditional MDM platforms – are looking to modern data management to help deliver greater efficiencies, unlock growth opportunities, and maximise revenue and profit. Data is the lifeblood of any organisation, but all too often its true value is obfuscated by the systems and siloes in which it resides. With the right philosophy and enablers behind it, that data can find its own path and offer insights you may not have even thought of until now.
CluedIn is the Azure-native, Cloud-based solution, listed as a reference architecture by Microsoft for this exact purpose. Built on a Graph database, it takes a matrix-like approach to cleansing and finding the relationships between different sets of data and offers limitless, automated modelling capabilities. Modern MDM offers a quicker, simpler and less manual approach to becoming the data-driven organisation most of you aspire to be.