Thursday, February 21, 2008

SAP Data Management Success Stories

I’m preparing for a web seminar on SAP data management success, and I’m really starting to look forward to it.

Moen and Oki Data will be sharing their data quality success stories with our audience. These are two very successful implementations of the Trillium Software System in the SAP environment.

My Trillium Software colleague, Laurie and I will take up only about ten minutes to first frame up and then wrap up the presentation. But the bulk of the presentation is about Moen and Oki Data and the success they’ve been able to achieve in a) quickly starting a data management program in SAP R/3, SAP ERP and SAP CRM; and b) taking the process and technology from one project to another.

If you want to join us, please click here. The webinar is on February 27th at 2 PM Eastern.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Data Governance – Does it take a platform?

I was reading through a major enterprise software vendor’s white paper and their recommendations on how to launch a data governance program. (I’m not going to provide a link - it wasn’t worth it.) Of course, much of the messaging was around buying software and the “platform” you need to do data governance… their platform.

Yet, I’m not sure it’s the wisest choice to start by buying a data governance platform. If your solution to data governance is to buy software, then you’re not really doing data governance. So much of data governance is about things like getting executives to recognize data as an asset, setting up processes, planning teams and resources, the politics of data ownership, understanding the goals of the organization and making decisions about data to support them, and so on.

Now I know it’s blasphemy for a guy who works for an enterprise software company to talk like that. In the past, I probably have been guilty of pushing the platform over process improvements. But, it’s a new day. I see real successes starting to emerge from companies who begin by taking a look at the strategy and process of data governance in the context of their business plan. Companies are beginning to soul-search a bit, before buying a platform, to know how ready they are for data governance and plan their maturation process.

Why not bring in some expertise on data governance first? Bring in the right mix of technology and business experience to build a plan, build a process and work through the politics of data governance first. There are some pretty good systems integrators out there who can help. We have partnerships with Accenture and Deloitte, for example, and they have helped set strategy on many projects.

Trillium Software also has a growing business around the business strategy of data governance. These programs are run by an arm of our professional services team called strategic services, and they too are really starting to show promise, as they work hand-in-hand with our customers to set up the processes and strategy of data governance, opening up communications between IT and management on data governance. These include the following programs:

• Data Quality Workshop - a knowledge sharing exercise that incorporates interactive group dynamics, analytics, and presentations to learn about the customer’s business, understand and share key aspects of a total data quality solution, and determine how to best solve business problems through a comprehensive data quality program. We’ll come in for a couple of days and help you through some of the data governance strategy.

• Strategic Planning Services - a service offering that helps you to build a future vision for data quality that optimizes processes and improves data quality enterprise-wide. This service focuses on future data quality strategies such as dealing with complex enterprise data quality deployments, expansion of data quality initiatives and the effects of mergers and acquisitions on the business.

• Data Governance Planning – This service helps organizations with developing, refining, and supporting their data governance strategies and programs. It recognizes that data quality by itself does not define data governance. Rather, it also includes a focus on business processes and people to achieve success.

If this is something that your company needs, send me an e-mail and I’ll set it up for you, or find out more here. These workshops are particularly helpful if you have some key stakeholders dragging their feet on data governance. They can help you all get on the same page.

Does it take a platform to do data governance? Maybe, but data governance is a far-off dream for many companies. In this case, it takes a lot more than technology to fulfill a dream.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mainframe Computing and Information Quality

Looking for new ways to use the power of your mainframe? My friend Wally called me the other day and was talking about moving applications off the mainframe to the Unix platform and cleansing data during the migration. “Sure, we can help you with that.” I said. But he was surprised to hear that there is a version of the Trillium Software System that is optimized for the Mainframe (z/OS server). We’ve continually updated our mainframe data quality solution and we have no plans to stop.

Mainframe computers still play a central role in the daily operations of many large companies. Mainframes are designed to allow many simultaneous users and applications access to the same data without interfering with one other. Security, scalability, and reliability are key factors to the mainframe’s power in mission-critical applications. These applications typically include customer order processing, financial transactions, production and inventory control, payroll, and others.

While others have abandoned the mainframe platform, the Trillium Software System supports the z/OS (formerly known as OS/390) environment. Batch data standardization executes on either a 64-bit or 31-bit system. It also supports CICS, the transactional-based processing system designed for real time processing. z/OS and CICS easily support thousands of transactions per second, making it a very powerful data quality platform. The Trillium Software System can power your mainframe with an outstanding data quality engine, no matter if your data is stored in DB2, text files, COBOL copybooks, or XML.

The Trillium Software System will standardize, cleanse and match data using our proprietary rules engine. You can remove duplicates, ensure that your name and address data will mail properly, CASS certify data and more. It’s a great way to get your data ready for SOA on the mainframe, too.

My hats off to Clara C. on our development team, who heads up the project for maintaining the mainframe version of the Trillium Software System. She’s well-known at Trillium Software for her mainframe acumen and for hosting the annual pot-luck lunch around the holidays. (She makes an excellent mini hot dog in Jack Daniels sauce.)

I’m not sure whether Wally will stick with his mainframe or migrate the whole thing to UNIX servers, but he was happy to know he has an option. With an open data quality platform, like the Trillium Software System, it’s not a huge job to move the whole process from the mainframe to UNIX by leveraging the business rules developed on one platform and copying them to the other.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Oracle Data Integration Suite - Trillium Software Inside

Finally! Finally, I can talk about the exciting news regarding Trillium Software’s partnership with Oracle. It’s a perfect decision for Oracle to begin working with Trillium in the data integration market, combining Sunopsis technology with Trillium Software technology to address some of the competitive challenges of IBM and the Webshere platform.

Trillium Software has long been a supporter of the Oracle platform, first offering batch technology for cleansing Oracle databases. A few years ago, we began offering direct support for Oracle’s older data integrator, OWB. Now, this integration with ODI is going to serve Oracle customers with excellent data quality within a superb data integration platform.

Trillium Software prides itself in it’s our connectivity into major enterprise applications. Here are a few of the most popular ones:

  • SAP - SAP R/3, SAP CRM, SAP ERP and SAP NetWeaver MDM.
  • Oracle - OWB, ODI, Siebel eBusiness, Siebel UCM, Oracle CDH, and Oracle eBusiness Suite.
  • Ab Initio
  • Siperian

In addition, we still have quite a few customers on the Informatica platform, and we continue to support those customers, despite the fact that Informatica has had a competitive data quality solution since its acquisition of Similarity Systems. We even maintain our integration with IBM Websphere, despite IBM’s acquisition of Ascential, who had acquired data quality vendor Vality. Still, we have a significant number of users who are using Datastage with Trillium Software and don’t want to switch.

Why support all these integration points when other vendors don’t? It’s where the reality of the marketplace meets product development. Let’s face it, large companies most often don’t run a single application platform across their entire enterprise. Most have a mixture of IBM, Oracle, Siebel, and many other enterprise vendors. Sometimes, this makes perfect sense for the organization. The heterogeneous enterprise often occurs when the application vendors can’t meet all the needs of the organization. So, for example, SAP ERP may meets the need of manufacturing, but Siebel better meets the requirements of sales and marketing.

On the other hand, it makes sense to standardize the data platform of your company. If you can plug the same rules engine into any of these platforms, data quality is more easily a simple component of corporate governance. Now you don’t have to hire staff to operate and maintain multiple data quality tools. Now, you won’t have to try to tune one data quality tool to make it behave like another. It is much easier to achieve a company-wide gold customer master record with a single information quality platform like Trillium Software.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own and don't necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer. The material written here is copyright (c) 2010 by Steve Sarsfield. To request permission to reuse, please e-mail me.