What to look for with Oracle’s Enterprise Data Management Cloud Service

The purpose of this post is to give you an idea of what to expect from Oracle’s Enterprise Data Management Cloud Service (“EDMCS”) product (which is the forthcoming cloud master data/hierarchy manager offering)  and my initial impressions of it.   You should be aware that these impressions are based solely on brief demos of EDMCS and discussions regarding it.  I have not had the opportunity to get my hands on the new cloud offering yet and therefore, these impressions should be taken with a grain of salt.  I will update this as soon as Oracle makes this product available to me and allows me to “kick the tires”, so to speak.  With that caveat, below is what I believe you should expect from EDMCS.

 

A Shift to the “Many Masters” Methodology

There is a growing trend in the data management and data governance world that the notion of “one source of the truth” for data is not workable in the purest sense of the phrase.  This is a result of the growth of the amount of data, metadata, and systems using both. Take for instance customer master data.  Your enterprise likely has numerous systems that interact with customer information.  Whether it be web forms, shipping systems, general ledgers, CRM systems, all of these are altering customer information simultaneously.  Thus, there is no “single source of the truth” at any specific time.

With EDMCS, Oracle has built in a little more flexibility to align with this fact.  It appears Oracle has realized that with the amount of reporting, planning and analytics apps used by large corporations, it is difficult to get every hierarchy into a single source at one time.  This was often attempted in a traditional DRM implementation where the goal was to have DRM manage all hierarchical data immediately (i.e. on day X, we flip the switch and now DRM is the master of our data).  Now, most of us that have implemented DRM for large organizations realize that it rarely worked like that.  Instead, DRM gradually ingested hierarchies and slowly become the master.  To do that, organizations were forced to phase in integrations, data cleansing activities and workflows as each data set “went live”.  This took a lot of effort, planning and intelligent design.  With the EDMCS offering, Oracle is attempting to make this easier.

In short, Oracle claims that with EDMCS, organizations will have the ability to ingest source data directly from applications (1) without investing a lot of time and resources on integration and (2) bringing in the data “as-is” without “mastering” immediately.  Such master data could then be maintained, shared,  analyzed, and potentially cleansed when the resources necessary to do so were available.  Until the master data from that particular source is mature, the ingested master data could be shared among any version that needed it until such data is truly mastered, if ever.   Ultimately, this would enable organizations to achieve their master data governance objectives as an evolutionary process, allowing the system to grow and mature over time, while allowing the people and processes to adjust over time.

 

A Different Take on Governance

As part of the EDMCS development effort, it appears Oracle took the opportunity to rethink governance.  Unfortunately, what I have seen so far has left me with more questions than answers, but here is what I know.  First, Oracle did not recreate DRG in the cloud.  I am not sure what the governance component of EDMCS will look like but I am told that users will request changes and notifications will be sent to stake holders to approve said change.  I am unclear how EDMCS will treat the “draft” data before it is approved.  I do know that users will now be able to “visualize” what the updated hierarchy will look like when requesting the change and, therefore manage change impact, which is something that was on a lot of people’s wish list.  This is something I am eager to look at when I have the opportunity to demo this new offering.

 

Easier Integration

One of the big benefits of a reimagining of DRM is the potential to improve DRM’s integration with the Hyperion App landscape.  Traditionally, when implementing DRM, time must be set aside for building integrations with other applications in the Hyperion suite of products.   Regardless if EPM Table integration, flat file integration, or API integration was used, time was required to build, test and deploy such integration.  Although, such time really comprised only a small portion of an overall DRM implementation project, the portion was one in which consultants added very little as the process was fairly repeatable.  Thus, this is a great enhancement to their master data product.  Look for the integrations to PBCS and FCCS to roll out initially with other applications in the suite to follow.

 

Other Expected Features

There are some other features to look for with the release of EDMCS.   First, it is likely that EDMCS will include some built in validations that are tied to that apps that will be integrated with EDMCS out of the box.  Though I am not specifically aware of what validations will be included, I imagine that validations similar to those to those provide in the application templates will be the first on the list to be “built-in”.   Though this is a nice feature and will save some time, I would not expect that the overall time it takes to develop validations for a mature master data system to decrease significantly because, in my experience, the vast number of validations necessary for a particular client depend a great deal on the client’s unique master data.

EDMCS is also introducing the concept of “user views” (at the time of this writing, I do not know what the official name of this feature will be).  This feature will allow users to configure a view of the master data that they are most interested in seeing and the configured “view” will load when the user logs in.  For example, if I am interested in seeing the Business Unit structure at a certain level and the cost center hierarchy with certain properties in a particular version, these dimensions will automatically be loaded when I login to the application in distinct tabs.

 

Migrating to the Cloud

It remains to be seen what a migration from an existing DRM application to a EDMCS instance will look like.  From what I have seen, it appears that migrating the hierarchies and defined properties will be relatively straight forward.  However, it appears that migrating derived properties will likely be a manual process.  Further, I am not sure whether validations will be easily migratable.  My hunch is that those will also need to be migrated manually based on the fact that (1) some validations will likely be built in and (2) since derived properties and validations share a similar logical framework, it is likely that both will have to migrated manually.   As soon as I have an opportunity to perform a sample migration, I will update you all on the ease or painfulness I encounter with it.

 

Thoughts

Overall, I am excited for the release of EDMCS.  I believe Oracle is attempting to eliminate some complexity in master data implementation by investing in some out of the box integrations.  Further, they have taken a look at what a master data implementation project actually looks like, and built in some features to allow for a more flexible roll out of such a project.

Obviously, there are a lot of open questions.  What does the governance methodology look like? What does an actual migration look like?  What will the cost be? How tightly programmed are the out of the box integrations?  These will all be answered soon enough.  I am looking forward to updating you all when I get my hands on the new offering.

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