Are SOA and MDM inseparable?

Reading “MDM and SOA, a Strong Partnership” on the Hub Solution Designs blog reminded me that it was about time I rescued this post from the depths of my collection of drafts.

To be useful, services must at some point deal with information, whether that’s product information, account information, a customer record or something else that is of interest to your business. It doesn’t take too long when you look at even the most basic web service examples before you spot something like ‘getCustomer’. You don’t need to look far; this post about RESTful services has account as well as customer for example.

Of course, if you aren’t writing this web service for a brand new company, the obvious question is where is the information about the customer going to come from? If you don’t consider master data management before taking the plunge with SOA, you’ll either end up with defacto master data appearing in an add hoc way, possibly based on the order services are exposed without any thought about data quality, or a whole bunch of conflicting data from duplicated services. It’s not a one way street either, master data management systems are easier with service oriented approaches.

Here’s what a few others have to say on the subject:

Update: I read New trends in Enterprise Software Enterprise 2.0 and MDM today which also has quite a nice introduction to how MDM and SOA are related. (14 April 2009)


5 thoughts on “Are SOA and MDM inseparable?

  1. Thanks for your thoughtful piece on the relationship between MDM and SOA, and thanks for mentioning the Hub Solution Designs blog!

    And keep dusting off that pile of draft posts – I’m sure there are a few more gems tucked away in there …

  2. Hi Dan, it’s something I’ve been thinking about since spotting getCustomer on an example mediation at a poster session in Hursley, so I’ve been on the look out for articles since then. As a comparison, I’d be really interested to find some experiences of people going down the SOA road without MDM, whether successful or not.

  3. I believe it depends on level of architecture. In a stand-alone application, a SOA is a design framework that allows the encapsulation of business functionality that can be reused. As long as the services inter-operate on a common data store, or pass static data for presentation, then the need for an MDM is minimal.

    However, as you add additional applications, data about a particular subject area becomes distributed. Whether services are then developed to support composite apps, the integration of data, or retrieval for presentation, then an MDM strategy is critical.

  4. Hi Joan, good points. I guess smaller stand-alone SOA implementations are more likely to be departmental or siloed. I’ve also heard many people recommend approaching MDM in smaller bite sized chuncks, rather than attempting to boiling the ocean. So as the scope of either increases, any other MDM and SOA implementations in the enterprise become just part of the IT landscape which needs to be surveyed for brownfield development.

  5. Pingback: Master Data Management links: August « Notes from a small field

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