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Also posted on: The IM Blog
What do you think of when you think of BackOffice Associates (BOA)? I know what I think of: SAP and data migration. And that used to be true. It still is to some extent (for example, SAP resells some of BOA’s accelerators—SAP Information Steward Accelerator and SAP Data Services Migration Accelerator).
As a product company (as opposed to its consulting services) BackOffice Associates can best be described as providing an orchestration layer for data management. Or perhaps a backbone. Yes, the company can provide you with the ability to monitor your data quality, or it can provide data masking tools, and it offers ILM (information lifecycle management) tools. But in a sense the company doesn’t really care about that. Indeed, as a general principle the company’s Data Stewardship Platform (DSP) is agnostic to what tools IT wants to use. If you want to use Trillium for data profiling and cleansing then fine. If you want to use Grid-Tools for data masking that’s okay too.
What the company is really about is the process of data management and governance. The company talks, rightly, about being on a data journey. You don’t just cleanse your data as a one-off process, you need to keep doing it. And if you acquire some other company then you’ll need to do it a whole lot more. And archival is not something you do just once. And data migrations similarly tend to be recurrent projects. In order to support these repeated projects BOA released dspTrack in its latest DSP release (6.1). As its name suggests this is a project execution (and auditing) tool. And it’s very impressive. I haven’t seen anything like it from other vendors in the data management or data governance spaces. Of course there are plenty of products with workflow and approval processes built-in but this goes a step further—it’s a full project management package but excluding the planning stuff you get in project management tools—and without the cost and complexity.
The second major part of the 6.1 release is the integration of the Entota software that BOA acquired a little less than a year ago. Entota, if you recall my blogs about the company, provided data migration automation through the capture, retention and reuse of target mappings and rules. This has been extended in two ways. Firstly, it has been re-worked so that it will run without change in conjunction with the SAP accelerators that BOA has developed and which are re-sold by SAP. Secondly, the product now supports the auto-generation of SAP Data Services code so that your ETL (extract, transformation and load) is built for you. Alternatively, and here we hark back to the point about BOA being agnostic rather than SAP-driven, you can also auto-generate ANSI standard SQL code. We also understand that BOA is in discussions with other ETL and data integration vendors about auto-generating code for their platforms.
BOA has clearly decided that it wants to spread out from its roots: it doesn’t want to be just an SAP partner and it doesn’t want to be just associated with data migration. In that light the Data Stewardship Platform is well-named: it is an over-arching umbrella for data governance and a variety of data integration tasks that is vendor agnostic. It is true that its support for SAP capabilities is stronger than that for other vendors, and that may always be the case to some extent, but what I hear from the company is that it definitely wants to be seen as a much more open vendor than one that is just an SAP specialist.