Microsoft has acquired Stratature, a company that produces software for master data management (MDM). MDM is ciritcal to the effective implementation of a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA).
MDM can be described by the way that master data interacts with other data. Master data can be described by the way that it is created, read, updated, deleted and searched. For example, in transaction systems, master data is almost always involved with transactional data. A customer buys a product. A vendor sells a part, and a partner delivers a crate of materials to a location. An employee is hierarchically related to their manager who reports up through a manager (another employee). A product may be part of multiple hierarchies describing their placement within a store. This relationship between master data and transactional data may be fundamentally viewed as a noun/verb relationship. Transactional data capture the verbs, such as sale, delivery, purchase, email, and revocation; master data are the nouns. This is the same relationship data-warehouse facts and dimensions share.
For more information on MDM read Roger and Kirk's article on MSDN at http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb190163.aspx.