Microsoft has acquired a small data management software company and said it will use the technology to enhance the SQL Server database, Office and other software.

Stratature, a 16-person privately held company, provides master data management (MDM) software called +EDM that manages a central repository of reference data. Microsoft plans to deliver capabilities from Stratature's software to business users through a combination of Office on the front end and SQL Server on the back end.

Microsoft is promoting the latest version of its Office suite as a business collaboration platform, and a big part of this plan has been providing tighter integration with other applications where users need to share data across business units. The company is especially interested in providing storage and management for the unstructured data that is becoming more prevalent in the enterprise, and is making this a key focus for SQL Server 2008, previously codenamed Katmai.

Eventually, Microsoft plans to integrate MDM capabilities throughout its entire Office Business Platform, including the PerformancePoint, Dynamics, Project Server and SharePoint product lines, said Alex Payne, group product manager for Office Business Applications at Microsoft.

According to Stratature's website, the first delivery of MDM-related technology from Microsoft will focus on analytical hierarchy management, which helps executives obtain company information in a way that accurately reflects their own view of their departments.

This also will give developers one source of data, making it easier for them to integrate data and perform development tasks across the enterprise, while at the same time help IT executives retain control and governance over corporate information, according to Stratature.

Payne said Microsoft will provide more information at a later date about exactly how Stratature's offerings will fit into Microsoft's portfolio. The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal.