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SAP harmonizes data

SAP is set to ship its Master Data Management (MDM) module as part of its NetWeaver platform. Its analytical and search capabilities allow users to identify identical or similar data objects across systems.

Companies dealing with the common data integration problems may get relief from SAP's newly released Master Data Management software, according to analysts who have seen the new product.

First announced last year at SAP's international customer conference in Lisbon, SAP MDM begins shipping to customers this week.

SAP MDM integrates data and applications, and it identifies and cleanses similar data objects across various systems. Companies that use the new application should be able to receive all data from third-party systems and unify it in a common data format.

One of the greatest difficulties companies currently have is synchronizing data from one supplier to another, said Michael Doane, a vice president at Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group.

"Enterprise application integration firms and software seek that level of synchronization," Doane said. "The fact that SAP wants its own standard should be a step forward."

The application is designed to be installed while minimizing disruptions to the daily flow of business, according to SAP. Plenty of customers have disparate data scattered around their IT shops, within SAP applications and outside them, said Joshua Greenbaum, principal consultant at Daly City, Calif.-based Enterprise Applications Consulting.

"They really don't have the notion of a single view of their partners' product data," Greenbaum said. "The goal is that customers will use MDM as a master data store for all of their key business objects and, even if they might be using non-SAP applications, the data will come out of MDM."

SAP MDM provides a framework to define the reference master data, analysts say.

For example, an aircraft wheel may be identified by the manufacturer, its suppliers and customers in slightly different ways. The manufacturer might identify the assembly as "assembly 85467," while a supplier's system tracks the same assembly as "a 330 wheel assembly." Greenbaum said that SAP is the only vendor in the applications market proposing the kind of data integration that can address a difference like that.

"SAP is saying they'll put this into their NetWeaver stack," Greenbaum said, "and you won't have to go out and build it yourself."


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To provide your feedback on this article, contact Robert Westervelt.

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