Last week I moderated a panel at CloudBeat looking at application integration and whether standalone applications could successfully be integrated to meet the common data requirements of the enterprise. There were a few different perspectives on the panel but one thing everyone was in agreement about was that the meaning of the word “suite” has changed and in the future all enterprise applications will have a requirement for data interchange between discrete applications.

The problem with this is that, despite the preponderance of APIs that exist to allow applications to communicate, a successful integration program still relied on a common view of data, if you like an understanding between applications of what different data actually “means”. As SnapLogic points out;

…with the rapid adoption of more new functional and vertical-specific SaaS applications, most companies now have their critical data spread across a wider variety of systems, which can lead to duplicative and often erroneous information

SnapLogic (more here) is a company that has long been looking at the application integration space. Their take has been to create a series of pluggable and reusable pieces of code (Snaps) that offer integration between different applications such as ADP Employease, OpenAir, Intacct, Oracle, PeopleSoft Enterprise, SugarCRM, QuickBooks and among others.

Perhaps in a tacit admission that simple integration isn’t sufficient for enterprise customers, SnapLogic is today announcing a partnership with Orchestra Networks that seeks to offer a cloud-based Master Data Management (MDM) solution that works with all the applications SnapLogic currently supports.

The solution lets regular business users quickly establish a “single source of truth” about their company’s products, employees, partners, suppliers, customers, stores, factories, or financial data and hierarchies – without a complex IT project. It’s a way of creating an enterprise vernacular, but based upon plain English rather than complex code. A diagram of an example use case is below to illustrate the concept;


Specific highlights of the new MDM solution;

  • Data governance – cloud-based collaboration and workflow configuration, data model design with business rules for data quality, hierarchy authoring and management, and integration for all facets of business data
  • Product information management – synchronization with ERP, CRM and e-Commerce systems, change management and approval processes for management of complex product catalogs
  • Reference data management – single repository of reference tables such as geographies, codifications and hierarchies integrated across enterprise applications
  • Business intelligence dimensions – centrally managed, unique definitions for each dimension and hierarchy consumed by BI solutions, including product categories, market segments, financial accounts, etc
Part of me hates the fact that there is any need for what this new partnership offers – call me an idealist but I’d love to think that data was free to transcend applications in a way that was understandable by all. That however is idealism and the reality is that an intermediary provides a crucial role – especially as enterprise scale and complexity grows ever larger. This new partnership is an effective proxy for a common lingua franca.
Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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