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Table of Content

MDM Upgrade

Why upgrade?

Clients ask me all the time, why? Why do we need to upgrade? We are happy with the way the software is working? if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

This is what I tell them…
There are a variety of reasons why one might choose to upgrade. Usually, our business needs are evolving, and as such, we can take advantage of the new features in the product. Sometimes, it is not the business but rather our technical needs that are evolving, which push us towards an upgrade. Then again, there are times when we upgrade not so much because of change but because the current version of the product has reached the end of its life cycle and will no longer be supported (see below).

Version End of Service Date
IBM Initiate Master Data Service v6.x December 31, 2009
IBM Initiate Master Data Service v7.0, v7.2 December 31, 2010
IBM Initiate Master Data Service v7.5 June 30, 2011
IBM Initiate Master Data Service v8.xIBM Initiate Address Verification Interface v8.x September 30, 2013
IBM Initiate Master Data Service v9.0, v9.2IBM Initiate Address Verification Interface v9.0, v9.2 September 30, 2014

Change for the sake of change is not necessarily a value driven MDM strategy. While it is true that the MDM strategy in many organizations paves the way for other initiatives, it is also true that in order to derive the most value out of any initiative, we should have a holistic view of all changes so that a synergistic approach can be taken to decide which changes should be implemented. The solution should add to the overall synergism of the solution, not take away from it.

Let’s Initiate®

Like most software, there are no groundbreaking changes from one version to the next but when we look at the breadth of changes across multiple versions, a strong case can be made to upgrade to the latest. Let’s look at a few upgrade scenarios that outline some of the major changes between the different releases.

Version Key Features Description


MDM Name and Packaging Initiate v10 is part of IBM InfoSphere MDM suite of products. The combined packaging provides easier methods to move from one platform to the other
BPM Express configure workflow based solutions that support data stewardship and data governance applications
Automated Weight Management Workbench guides the process of determining if the weights are appropriate for the data set based on guidelines and rules developed by IBM's data scientists
Workbench Simplification Modifications to weight generation, algorithm configuration, and threshold calculation functionality have been made to reduce time and simplify hub configuration and deployment.
GNR Name Variants Integration (embedded in v10) same as 9.7 but GNR is now embedded in v10
MDM Application Toolkit Formerly, Initiate Composer, the MDM Application Toolkit is a library of MDM application building blocks (business components or widgets) that make MDM capabilities available to end-users. It helps development teams, customers, and partners accelerate the development of MDM powered applications.
Event Notification By using event notification, you can expose the changes made in the MDS to external applications or workflow systems (such as BPM Express v7.5 available with MDM v10).
Linkage Search The Inspector tool now allows users to be able to search for entities using a variety of different criteria (similar to task searches). This new functionality enables data stewards to inspect entities that have been autolinked or manulinked to verify the quality of the linkages.
Algorithm functions for Chinese names The 10.0 release introduces the CHINESE standardization, comparison, and bucket generation functions to support searching, matching, and linking by the Master Data Engine.
Relationship Linker Performance The batch relationship linker (RelLinker) process has been modified to improve scalability and performance.


IBM Initiate Provider Direct (not part of standard edition) Is a web-based application which enhances IBM Initiate Provider by offering organization-wide access to data about physicians, care organizations, nurses, and other care providers, supports more collaborative interaction between these provider groups.
Flexible Search Is an additional search capability built into the Master Data Engine which is independent of the heritage search capability. Multiple query operation types are supported. For example: wild cards, Boolean queries, inexact queries,range queries, etc.
GNR – Global Name Recognition (separate license) Provides a list of global name variants. Name variants can be used by the Master Data Engine during candidate selection to provide better matches


Performance Log Manager The ability to monitor system performance is vital to alerting operations staff of potential issues or clues to resolving existing issues. The Performance Log Manager can easily capture MDS information during a given interval and output the results in a web-based report.
Multi-threaded Entity Manager The entity manager has become a multi-threaded process for increased overall efficiencies of the entity management process.
International Data Accuracy Enhancements to algorithm functions have been made to increase MDS' accuracy for comparing and linking international names, addresses, and phone numbers. Specifically, for name parsing, custom phonetics, bucketing on partial strings, and date ranges. These solutions can also provide better accuracy for local data.
Initiate Composer is a unified development environment used to quickly build lightweight but robust applications to display, access, and manipulate the data managed by IBM Initiate® Master Data Service


Interceptor tool Enhancements to the Interceptor tool enables speedier upgrade and maintenance of the Master Data Engine by recording interactions executed on one Engine and replaying those interactions on other Engines.
Entity Management by Priority Customers can set the priority of records that enter the entity management queue (e.g. data from real-time systems are higher priority than data from batch systems).
Initiate Composer is a unified development environment used to quickly build lightweight but robust applications to display, access, and manipulate the data managed by IBM Initiate® Master Data Service
Compensating Transactions Compensating transactions via MemUnput and MemUndo interactions enable the rollback of a member insert or update. These interactions are available for the Java and .NET SDKs.


Advanced issue management Allows customers to implement and manage custom data issues, also called implementation defined tasks (IDTs) or custom tasks.
Initiate Enterprise SOA Toolkit The 9.0 release introduces the Initiate Enterprise SOA Toolkit that provides a Java object API and WebServices interface to the Initiate Master Data Service.
AES encryption and IPv6 support To increase security, the Initiate Master Data Service now supports Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and Internet Protocol (IP) v6.

Upgrade Recommendations

  • We recommend all clients on version 8.x or prior should upgrade to version 10, which is the most recent version. While a target upgrade to version 9.5 or 9.7 is possible, moving to version 10 will give a longer span before the next upgrade is necessary.
  • Since version 10 is a part of the IBM Infosphere MDM suite of products, it provides certain advantages when moving between platforms. Almost 50% of the effort can be reused when migrating from one platform to the other.
  • All components listed under the Initiate MDS platform must be upgraded during any major or minor upgrade process, as per IBM's recommendation
  • Special consideration needs to be given to the custom processes or code, e.g.
    • Engine Callouts: provides the ability to intercept & modify existing Engine behavior either pre or post-interaction.
    • Custom Search Forms: Customized search screens in data steward tools (inspector and/or EnterpriseViewer) need to have their customizations moved to the upgraded solution.
    • API code (JAVA or WebServices) Ensure that existing functionality is unaffected
    • To minimize downtime, we recommend doing as much of the upgrade in parallel as possible. However some downtime will still be inevitable.

Are we ready? (to upgrade?)

We may not realize it, but staying with the current solution or upgrading to the latest are two distinct decisions, not one. Either decision will have a lasting impact on the vision and the mission of the organization. Regardless of the decision, the recommendation would be that the approach we take should not only be vetted by industry experts but, ideally, it should be created with the help of those experts. The right experts can help you validate and evaluate that even if the decision is to stay with the current solution, at least the solution will not adversely impact the organization. They can ensure that the current solution is in line with the organization’s vision and mission. The right experts would have the Initiative needed for the organization To relate, evaluate, locate, link & identify subjects.


At the end of the day, it really comes down to what we need today and what might we need tomorrow. Regardless of the multitude of new features, the question remains…are they enough to warrant an upgrade? Are we making substantial strides towards our goals? Are the new features relevant to our current and/or future business needs? Should we upgrade even if there isn’t a lot of value today? The decision rests solely with you.

However, regardless of the decision, we should keep this principle in mind:

“Change when change isn’t absolutely necessary does give us the luxury to plan, procure & implement

not only what we need today but also what we will need tomorrow. On the other hand, change when

change is absolutely necessary forces us to put a band-aid on the issue and just fix the problem(s) at hand.

Who am I, and why am I saying this?
I am a Sr. Initiate Consultant at InfoTrellis and have a long history in Initiate MDS. I started working on the Initiate MDS platform before it became IBM Initiate MDS. I have seen the product grow from early versions with a limited feature-set to a very mature and robust product that it is today. I have worked with a number of healthcare and other clients over the years. Almost all of my client projects where Initiate was their first MDM product, the clients were usually hesitant when they first start working with the product. As time went by, we saw the (proverbial) light bulb go on and the clients started to “get” the potential of what could be. A lot of times it was hard to quantify every single iota of value before the project is implemented. However, in my experience, there was seldom a client that did not derive more value from the implementation then what was initially targeted in the project scope.

Today, I am not directly connected to IBM but I am still very much involved in the MDM industry. I am also a strong and vocal supporter of the Initiate platform and the related services that developed during my tenure with Initiate and then IBM. These days I am working with a dynamic and smart group of MDM specialists at Mastech InfoTrellis to help organizations realize their true destination as they travel on their MDM Journey. (more details, later…)


Abhishek Kamboj

Project Manager

With nearly 7 years of experience, Abhishek excels in overseeing and successfully delivering complex MDM projects.