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During the past couple of month I was introduced to the MDM world and our product now called MDM5.5 also known as MDME and I wanted to share with you my insights regarding this amazing tool and its capabilities.

SAP – MDM background
Before we are getting into the MDM world and MDM5.5 details it is very important to give some background on the MDM product evolution in SAP. Anybody that is a little bit familiar with SAP products and NetWeaver platform knows that the MDM product was available for the last few years and its last version was MDM 3.0 this product was ABAP based tool with very strong capabilities in large scale data integration and consolidation between SAP systems, the problem with this tool was that it was too complicated for implementation and less strong in the client side. In order to make it better SAP had to decide whether to invest more development efforts or buy some other product that will be able to provide the missing capabilities, during the quest for this tool SAP found this Israeli company called A2I and their product called xCat. Even though the xCat product was intended for product catalog management SAP identified the grate potential in it both from conceptual and technical point of view and decided to buy it and make it SAP’s MDM product. At first this product was called MDME (MDM Extension) but now it was announced as the MDM official tool by SAP. The MDM5.5 tools is a very sophisticated tool from one hand providing great Data Modeling , data consolidation, fast data extraction , and search capabilities, and from the other hand it is very simple for installation and implementation (both from infrastructure point of view and end user experience). So now SAP has a very strong offering in the MDM world:
  • Large experience in MDM scenario’s as it was captured during the years in the “old” MDM development team.
  • State of the art technology which enables you to do complex things with relatively small effort.
In order to explain how product catalog tool becomes MDM tool we need to explain what are MDM and PCM.

PCM – Product Catalog Management
A PCM product helps a product oriented company (can be in the retail or manufacturing) manage the different aspects of information regarding the product. We are not always aware of it but it can be quite complex and a lot of information to handle. The reason for that is that a product can be built from several parts, can come in different sizes, colors, and can be connected to other complimentary products. every product oriented company has to have its product catalog in order to use it both internally (for manufacturing, purchasing, etc) and externally (customers, suppliers, etc). In most companies the product information comes from different places in the organization (manufacturing, purchasing, operations, etc) derived from that it is stored in different IT systems. So PCM product needs to provide the following capabilities:
  • Extract product information from different IT systems
  • Consolidate information and convert different terminology of the same product (remember it comes from different places in the organization)
  • Provide sophisticated ways of organizing the information depending on the target audience using this information.
  • Provide ways for fast and intuitive search.
  • Provide different ways of displaying the catalog (by application, printing, on line, etc )

MDM – Master Data Management
Here we need to answer what is Master Data, well if I will try to define it in a simple way I can say that Master Data is descriptive data regarding specific entity. The Master Data is fairly Static and it is not contains transactional information. For example let’s take the Supplier entity and see what information we save on it and what is the type of each one:

Data Type
Supplier Name Master Data
Supplier Address Master Data
Supplier list of products Master Data
Number of invoices Transactional
Next shipment date Transactional

From the above table you can see that the transactional data is business process specific, for example the “Number of invoices” related to the company’s accounting business process but the “Next shipment date” is more related to the operational side, in most cases those business processes will be done by different IT systems/ modules, but both of them needs to have the same Master Data. Unfortunately this is not the case in the real world, and each IT system has its own way of saving and maintaining this Master Data. That leads to several problems in the organization that causes lose of Money like:
  • Duplicate maintenance efforts – maintaining master data can be quite complex and time consuming operation.
  • Unable to cross information like the same client owes money in one company division but we pay him in another division. If we known that it is the same client we can save the money we are paying him.
  • More
So Master Data Management systems came to solve those issues, by providing tools for:
  • Extracting master data from different IT systems
  • Consolidate master data coming from different sources meaning:
   &nbspo Identifying similar entities
   &nbspo Converting data from one terminology to another
   &nbspo Providing a way of building cross organization terminology without enforcing change to the different IT systems.
  • Central Management crosses IT systems.
  • Master Data Provisioning from and to the different IT systems in the organization.
  • More
Now you can see that the PCM is just a private case of MDM with some extensions like printing catalogs or image management. That is the same conclusion SAP drawn when it saw the xCat product now integrated into NetWeaver and called MDM5.5.

MDM5.5 Overview
So as I mentioned before the MDM5.5 product can handle both PCM and MDM scenarios, I want to talk about the MDM scenario and leave the PCM to some other time. As mentioned above in order to mange Master Data I need to have a tool that will enable me to:
  • Define a generic/flexible data model
  • Import master data from different sources
  • Manage my Master Data cross organization (find duplicates , find similarities ,define transformation rules, etc)
  • Maintain the Master Data in the most efficient way through out the company.
  • Support personalized access to Master Data according to end user profile (language, search behavior, data interest, etc )
  • Synchronize the Master Data with different systems holding equivalent information.
  • Provide scalable solution that can hold large scale of Master Data.
  • Provide fast access to the data (especially when it comes to large number of records)
  • Provide access to the Master Data information from applications (new and old)
The MDM5.5 product enables all the above and more together with the NetWeaver platform you are getting a robust MDM solution that can solve almost any Master Data scenario you have in your company. I will not go into the details (maybe in future weblogs) but just want to introduce you with the MDM5.5 building blocks and their part in the show. In the picture below we can see the MDM5.5 architecture and main components:

image

After my previous explanation regarding the MDM5.5 background we can see that the Image Manager and the Plug Ins (QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign) are part of the PCM scenario’s supported by this tool, the Image Manager is for handling Images usually kept in products context and the Plug Ins are meant for publishing the product catalog in different ways. I will concentrate on the MDM part of the product:

Management Consol
The console is the tool intended for two major roles:
  • MDM administrator – the console enables all the administrative tasks can be done via the MDM5.5 (connectivity, accessibility, security, etc)
  • MDM modeler – creation and maintenance of the object/data model as defined according to business needs. This tool enables you to model your Master Data in a way that it will reflect your original data model and business constraints (I have to say that I’ve seen some complex data models that was smoothly modeled into the product in no time!).

Import Manager
The Import Manger is responsible for importing data from several data-sources (can be relation DB, can be excel-sheet) in order to define and population of the data model. With this tool you will be able to define the rules for importing data into your model according to source structure. Here are the definitions will be done via Import Manager:
  • Aggregation of data from electronically format (the source)
  • Data Transformation rules
  • Data Rationalization rules
  • Data Normalization rules
  • Data Cleansing rules
All of those rules will be implemented during the data import (and all of the above is without coding!!)

Syndication Manager
The Syndication Manager is the component that knows how to exchange data with other systems, meaning this tool will be the one that will handle the synchronization between the MDM storage and the source systems. The syndication manager will not do it alone but it will use the XI in order to provide a robust way for interacting with any system the company has in its landscape and also add some more information (if needed) and sophisticated transformation rules needed during the process.

Content Manager
The content manager is the tool for the end user needs to maintain and work with Master Data in the organization. The content manager also called “the client” is a very sophisticate tool that enables the end user to do the followings:
  • Fetch data in the most intuitive way, this can be different from one end user to another even though they are using the same data model.
  • To manage the master date stored in the MDM (add, change, remove), this can be done with workflows.
The content manager supports multi-language both for the master data and the client GUI itself in one of the simplest ways I have ever seen. and it is dynamically build according to data model defined by the MDM modeler.

MDM Server
The MDM5.5 server is the engine that enables us to do almost anything in the product, as you can see in the diagram all the components above are just client applications communication with the server (via TCP/IP proprietary protocol), most of the operations are server side.

MDM API
The MDM5.5 server exposes API both for java and Microsoft applications (.Net and previous) that enables your applications to use the data and functionality provided by it. Due to the fact that most of the MDM5.5 functionality is done in the server, every thing that you can do from one of the clients above you can do from your applications via the API. API for ABAP is being developed as we speak and will be available in the near future.


I hope this weblog clear some questions and fuzziness regarding the MDM world and SAP NetWeaver MDM solution, and most important I hope that I’ve managed to reflect my enthusiasm from this tool. I’m recommending to anybody how is interested in the MDM world or just a technology “frik” to download the tool and play with it and I’m sure you will like as much as I did

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9 Comments

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  1. Anil K
    Hi Nitzan Levi,

    I think this weblog is a great start to clarify the confusion surrounding the MDM product.

    Functionality wise, Can I make a conclusion like this:

    MDM5.5 =
    MDM 3.0(which sits on WAS,uses XI,EP…for supporting Content Consolidation,Master data harmonization and Central master data maintenence)
    +
    PCM capabilities(which was acquired through A2I integration)

    This is because I read that MDM5.5 can be easily installable..even on desktop with XP..
    How can this be possible If MDM5.5 also contains MDM3.0(which sits on top of WAS)?

    OR

    SAP has relinqueshed MDM3.0, as the product acquired from A2I has all those features plus extra content management features(the list goes on..)

    Thank you in advance.

    Best Regards,
    Anil
    SAP Netweaver consultant(BW-MDM)

    (0) 
    1. Nitzan Levi Post author
      Hi Anil,
      your second conclusion is the closest one, meaning the new product MDM5.5 is coming instead of the MDM3.0, and it has most of the MDM3.0 capabilities + the PCM, but the important fact is that now we have new product with extended capabilities and technology and also the knowledge and experience gained by the MDM3.0 development team so i see great future to this product.
      (0) 
    1. Nitzan Levi Post author
      Hi
      currently all the knowledge and offical matirial is not public, and its only available for RampUp customers, but I know that this is going to change very soon. but you can stay tuned to the weblogs and all the other matirial on the SDN Master Data Managment area.
      (0) 
  2. Derek Lithgow
    Hi,

    I notice from the MDM Master Guides on SAP Net that the “Central Data Management” (all master data managed centrally) scenario defined on the MDM 3.0 Master Guide is missing from the MDM 5.5 master guide.

    In addition the MDM 5.5 Master Guide states

    “Within the SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management portfolio, SAP MDM 5.5 provides an alternate way of master-data harmonization:

    • It focuses particularly on interactive cleansing and distribution of material, supplier,
    customer, and employee master data within an (SAP R/3 based) ERP environment.

    • It is intended for periodical and interactive harmonization within an SAP R/3/ERPenvironment
    (including legacy systems) rather than for frequent changes with
    automatic distribution and matching processes for interactively consolidating and
    distributing master data”

    This implies to me that MDM 5.5. is not intended for :-

    a) Regular central master data maintenence and distribution.

    b) Centralising master data maintenance across ERP (back office), CRM (front office), SRM, SAP Records Management etc. etc.

    Is this correct?

    For example, is it possible to centrally managed a super set of say customer master data in MDM, and in real time distribute appropriate customer master data subsets to a CRM customer master and a ERP customer master? 

    Thanks,
    Derek.

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  3. Markus Ganser
    Generally, SAP NetWeaver MDM covers the following scenarios:
    – Master-Data Consolidation
    – Master Data Harmonization, and
    – Central Master Data Management

    and additionally the business scenarios
    – Rich Product Content Management, and
    – Global Data Synchronization

    The Master Guide in the Service Marketplace reflects the MDM 5.5 SP01 status, and as you pointed out correctly, lacks information about central master data management. However, the guides will be updated on a regular basis with the imminent SP02 edition covering the central master-data management scenario, too.

    Regards, Markus

    (0) 

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