This article first appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of The Record.
Cloud computing is quickly transitioning from early adopter to mainstream use in the enterprise, regardless of organisation size or industry vertical. This shift of on-premise enterprise applications to the cloud is also changing the way organisations desire to license and deploy enterprise software, moving from the more traditional perpetual license to subscription licensing.
As a master data management (MDM) software company, this presents Profisee with the same set of challenges and opportunities faced by other software companies, for both our technology and business model. It also poses a challenge for organisations evaluating enterprise applications (MDM or otherwise). Do you stay with the tried and tested on premise/perpetual license solution, and risk needing to migrate to the cloud in time? Or do you forge ahead with deploying new enterprise applications to the cloud now, bringing some additional risk along with some benefits. The answer depends on a number of factors.
As cloud computing has gained momentum, commoditised enterprise applications such as e-mail and messaging were the ripest pickings for transition to the cloud, and have become ubiquitous cloud hosted enterprise applications, typically licensed under subscription or usage based models. This progression has continued to more complex and specialised software applications such as customer relationship management platforms and intranet/extranet web sites, and continues to more complex and specialised software applications such as enterprise relationship planning, data integration and management applications.
MDM software solutions are no different, and have begun the transition towards the cloud. While some legacy vendors offer fairly static models for given domains which would transition more easily to the cloud, the trend in MDM is for solutions that provide highly flexible multi-domain platforms, which runs counter to the more ‘one size fits all’ model of cloud computing.
As such, most Software-as-a-Service MDM offerings today offer limited flexibility and configuration, and are suited to limited use cases for small to mid-size organisations. As you evaluate your options, determine whether your requirements will dictate a cloud versus on premise solution. The more domains, data, stewards, and processes you’re supporting, the more cautious you should be moving to MDM in the cloud.
Cloud platforms can generally be classified into one of the following three categories: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), which are cloud hosted, multitenant, accessed via web browser; Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), with application services implemented in the cloud; and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), with servers (virtual machines) and storage on a shared infrastructure.
Most fully-featured MDM software platforms already support IaaS, with their existing applications certified to run on specified hosted infrastructure in the cloud, allowing customers to offload server infrastructure to a third party, such as Microsoft Azure. This provides the benefit of offloading infrastructure to the cloud, while maintaining a fully-featured and lower risk application platform. Profisee has seen a growing majority of its new customers deploy our Maestro MDM platform to Microsoft’s Azure cloud using the IaaS service model.
The larger transition, which will occur over the course of the coming years, is the delivery of fully-featured MDM solutions in the PaaS and SaaS service models. At this time, MDM platforms will provide solutions that are configurable and flexible, within a cloud hosted environment. According to Gartner, this is still five years away.
Small to mid-size organizations with fairly simple MDM requirements are potential candidates for early adoption of SaaS MDM solutions, but tread carefully. Larger organisations, or those with complex requirements necessitating a full featured platform, should look to deploy an MDM solution such as Profisee Maestro, and use infrastructure such as that available from Microsoft Azure, to gain cloud benefits.
Eric Melcher is practice director of Master Data Management at Profisee
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