DataFlux goes up against MDM giants with new platform

The SAP subsidiary is launching a full-blown data management suite

SAS Institute subsidiary DataFlux is unveiling a new suite on Monday that combines MDM (master data management), data quality and data integration tools in a single package.

Analysts say the DataFlux Data Management Platform, previously known under its internal name of "Project Unity," gives DataFlux a cohesive product set to compete with rivals such as IBM and Informatica.

Master data refers to types of information, such as products or customers, that are common across various systems and applications within a company. MDM software is used to help make sure master data is consistent and error-free. This is especially important, since a flaw in master data, such as a misspelled customer address, can have a ripple effect. MDM gets even more complicated when companies make acquisitions, bringing additional sets of master data into the fold.

The MDM market is heating up of late. Informatica recently plugged a hole in its lineup, buying MDM vendor Siperian, and IBM quickly followed up, moving to acquire Initiate Systems.

DataFlux's announcement will put SAS on a similar level to such vendors "when talking about offering a converged data integration and data quality platform," Forrester Research analyst Rob Karel said via e-mail. DataFlux has been strong in data quality, but SAS' data integration tools were primarily used for its BI (business intelligence) software, he added.

A single-vendor data management stack "helps avoid those tricky integration issues," said Ray Wang, partner with the analyst firm Altimeter Group, in an e-mail. "[But] the reality is that while DataFlux can offer customers one complete solution, many customers have different parts already," he said.

DataFlux CEO Tony Fisher acknowledged that companies might be reluctant to rip and replace components in order to switch to a new suite. Therefore, DataFlux sought to ensure the new platform "can integrate with existing components and let the migration occur over time."

Pricing for the platform starts at US$100,000 to $150,000, but a customer would be hard-pressed to get a full-blown MDM implementation for much less than seven figures, Fisher said.

Despite the high price tag of MDM technology, DataFlux is making "a fairly aggressive effort to have more of a relationship with the SMB market, because there's a lot of business there," Fisher said.

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