4 July 2022

Microsoft’s DMF or To-Increase’s DMS—the right data extraction tool for your ERP?


Are you struggling to derive analytics in the complex world of Dynamics 365 Finance & Supply Chain Management (F&SCM)? With plenty of tables and complex logic in Dynamics 365 F&SCM to make sense of, there’s usually a lot of dependency on developers to access data, which is a time-consuming and tedious process. Plus, the translation of data across several teams further reduces your speed to analytics. 

Some of the challenges that our partners and customers at To-Increase face around data preparation and extraction are: 

  • Extracting data via data entities is a complex process that also requires users to understand and perform coding 

  • Getting data out of Dynamics 365 is a time-consuming process 

  • The skilled workforce such as data scientists, BI managers, and data engineers spend their valuable time extracting data instead of focusing on their relevant business-critical tasks

  • The need to make well-informed and timely decisions due to increasing demand for self-service, real-time data

Data preparation and extraction solutions such as Microsoft’s Data Management Framework and To-Increase’s Data Modeling Studio help solve these challenges. This article aims to give you a detailed comparison of all the features offered by both solutions, and to help you choose the right fit for your business needs.

A comparison of Data Management Framework and Data Modeling Studio capabilities


1. Development effort

Microsoft’s Data Management Framework

It relies on a structure called data entities, which needs developers with skill sets in Dynamics 365 F&SCM to be able to build and get your denormalized data. It’s an exhausting process. For example, you will need a developer whenever you want to get updates done in various environments. The challenge you would face here is not just with setting up analytics, but also with updating and maintaining them.

Therefore, this solution calls for substantial development efforts.

TI’s Data Modeling Studio

While DMS has its own constructs, it also supports data entities. As a no-code, low-code solution, it offers a fairly simple process. Besides, if you have to add something or change data preparation or export logic, it allows you to do so directly. Therefore, it’s a low-maintenance solution.

Overall, DMS involves minimal development efforts.

2. Speed to analytics

Microsoft’s Data Management Framework

From the above point, we know how developing analytics can be a grueling task. Now, imagine if you had to get to analytics for a specific department, like finance or sales. You'd have to first figure out what metrics your business needs. Then you start building the logic, followed by testing it, pushing it to people, and finally distributing it. Even after it’s built, transporting from one system to another can take a long time with data entities because you’re dependent on a developer. Furthermore, even if one field changes, you need to go through multiple environments for something to reach your end-users.
As a result, your speed to analytics drops off.

TI’s Data Modeling Studio

DMS comes with templates that radically simplify the process of taking one setup from one environment to another. Anyone from your Business Intelligence (BI) team or even Dynamics 365 F&SCM analysts can do it themselves, thus eliminating the dependency on developers.
Therefore, DMS facilitates faster speed to analytics.

3. Data cleaning effort

Microsoft’s Data Management Framework  

Microsoft doesn't provide any out-of-the-box data quality or data cleaning solutions inside standard Dynamics 365 F&SCM.

Consequently, the data cleaning effort goes up with DMF.

TI’s Data Modeling Studio

DMS has a master data validation capability, that allows you to configure specific rules, such as customizing particular fields according to your needs. For instance, if it’s a phone number, you could ensure a 10-digit field, and likewise, set up a specific range for other kinds of fields. So, basically, you could easily configure rules in DMS and keep your data quality in check.

As a result, the data cleaning effort is relatively lower in DMS.

4. Essential analytics information

Microsoft’s Data Management Framework

In order to build analytics, you often need metadata enumerations. Metadata is data about the data, and it is extremely crucial because you wouldn’t be able to realize analytics without it. However, with standard DMF, getting metadata is a bit difficult process as you are required to do it manually.

For that reason, getting essential analytics information is difficult with DMF.

TI’s Data Modeling Studio

DMS helps you to easily get your analytics information. The process is as easy as checking a box and clicking a button, right after which you will have your metadata and enumerations as well. Once you have your data and the database, you would also have to do data modeling on top of it. DMS enables and simplifies this downstream analytics journey and accelerates speed to analytics.

DMS empowers you with faster speed to analytics.

5. Performance and monitoring capability

Microsoft’s Data Management Framework

In Microsoft, the out-of-the-box method to monitor data exports is the batch jobs. It essentially has a batch job screen where you can see the status of each job and you have to monitor manually. 

So, DMF performs well and offers a decent monitoring capability.

TI’s Data Modeling Studio

DMS offers an in-depth monitoring experience. For example, it gives you complete visibility into every step that the system is running along with the throughput of each export. You can also see how many milliseconds each export takes. For example, Data Modeling Studio has helped a To-Increase customer export tables as large as 170 M in an easy and hassle-free manner.

DMS offers a more stable, easy, and comprehensive performance and monitoring.

6. Data lake compatibility

Microsoft’s Data Management Framework

Data Lake is a new capability released by Microsoft. It is a place to store all your data, including structured data, unstructured data, files, transactional data from Dynamics F&SCM, pictures, videos, etc. Microsoft offers compatibility to data lakes from Dynamics F&SCM as well, allowing you to store your data in a data lake, and thus enhancing the user experience.

Microsoft’s DMF is compatible with the data lake.

TI’s Data Modeling Studio

To-Increase is currently exploring the data lake compatibility option. We are exporting to an SQL database and researching how to enable the users to make that connection with the data lake.

7. Solution pricing

Microsoft’s Data Management Framework

As an out-of-the-box Microsoft solution, the cost of DMF is variable as it depends on the type of license you’re buying. So, there is a lack of clarity in terms of cost evaluation. 
DMF pricing is variable and depends on multiple factors.

TI’s Data Modeling Studio

DMS offers a clear insight into your costs with its pricing structure, letting you know what you’re getting into. The price of the DMS license depends on the number of companies/users in Dynamics 365 F&SCM using the solution. We only count the base license, which includes the full user and the activity user. DMS follows a tiered pricing model, which means the price decreases as the number of companies/users increases.  
For example, let’s say you have 20 base users (companies), then the price would be €360 per month, and this price decreases further as the user count exceeds 20. 
It's a tiered pricing model for DMS, meaning the higher the user accounts, the lower the solution price.

How Data Modeling Studio enhances Data Management Framework

As Microsoft’s Inner Circle member, To-Increase is closely aligned with their product roadmap.

DMS helps you prepare and extract data in an optimal, user-friendly manner. To-Increase is focused on strengthening DMS in terms of usability and performance, and also looking towards data lakes to ensure that the setup works there as well. Additionally, on the data analytics and modeling side, which is the next step after data extraction, we want to be multisource-compatible to work in data lakes and provide embedded analytics that is tailored to your industries and modules such as PLM, ECM, equipment rental, and manufacturing industry. 

If your key focus is compatibility with data lakes, Data Management Framework is the better choice for a good user experience, while To-Increase is working on catering to this customer need as well.

If your overall goal is faster speed to analytics with minimal dependency on the IT team to access data, then Data Modeling Studio is the right way forward.

To learn how the Data Modeling Studio works, watch this webinar that includes a solution demo


Sumana Samuk
Sumana Samuk,
Sumana Samuk,
Product Management Team Lead

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