Unless another vendor moves swiftly, Talend is poised to become the first provider of open source master data management (MDM) software. Open sourcing MDM might make it more accessible and affordable to users, but it wont reduce the complexity of implementing what remains a very complicated and misunderstood technology in data integration toolkits.
Talends acquisition will allow it to move into an adjacent market
The prospect of an open source MDM offering which Talend expects to ship in early 2010 has been made possible by the acquisition of Amalto Technologies Xtensis MDM assets. Its hard to understand what Amalto, a provider of technology that facilitates secure data transfers within B2B exchanges, was doing developing Xtensis.
Talend will convert the proprietary Xtensis product into open source code a relatively rare and unusual move these days. Talend claims it has been eyeing the MDM open source opportunity for some time, and this is the latest in a series of similar acquisitions: Microsoft bought Stratature in 2007, and IBM snapped up Trigo and DWL in 2004 and 2005, and more recently Exeros.
The big difference here is that Talend plans to offer MDM at a fraction of the cost of proprietary MDM offerings. An initial MDM investment is often hundreds of thousands to a million dollars, which puts the technology beyond the reach of many organisations.
Recognising the links between MDM hubs and other data integration technologies, Talend will probably offer MDM as a separate module that plugs into its full Integration Suite. The suite also provides ETL and data quality capabilities as open source code under a GNU licence. Talend will deliver MDM in the same mode i.e. the core technology will be downloadable free of charge, but customers instead may buy a commercial subscription version with enterprise-class features and services.
Open sourcing MDM wont take away its complexity
If things go to plan, this will be the first open source MDM product to hit the market. The aim of MDM is relatively straightforward to ensure that master reference data (entities such as product, customer, etc.) are consistently defined and managed to create a single version of the truth that can be shared by enterprise applications.
Talend wants to democratise data integration through free open source downloads, but with a commercial edge of selling enhanced versions as licensed products. But like most data integration tasks, MDM is fiendishly difficult to achieve in practice.
Talend isnt inheriting a particularly strong MDM brand or customer base from Amalto; it was being used by only a handful of customers. It has its work cut out convincing organisations that this is a bona fide MDM platform. Perhaps the early sweet spot is price something that will put MDM within the budgets of SMEs. The move could also be timely, especially with the growing need for data integration and MDM competencies for moving application data into and among clouds.
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