erwin Data Intelligence (DI) for Data Governance Review

Good traceability and lineage features, impact analysis is helpful in the decision-making process, and the support is good


What is our primary use case?

Our work involves data warehousing and we originally implemented this product because we needed a tool to document our mapping documents.

As a company, we are not heavily invested in the cloud. Our on-premises deployment may change in the future but it depends on infrastructure decisions.

How has it helped my organization?

The automated data lineage is very useful. We used to work in Excel, and there is no way to trace the lineage of the data. Since we started working with DI, we have been able to quickly trace the lineage, as well as do an impact analysis.

We do not use the ETL functionality. I do know, however, that there is a feature that allows you to export your mapping into Informatica.

Using this product has improved our process in several ways. When we were using Excel, we did not know for sure that what was entered in the database was what had been entered into Excel. One of the reasons for this is that Excel documents contain a lot of typos. Often, we don't know the data type or the data length, and these are some of the reasons that lineage and traceability are important. Prior to this, it was zero. Now, because we're able to create metadata from our databases, it's easier for us to create mappings. As a result, the typos virtually disappeared because we just drag-and-drop each field instead of typing it. 

Another important thing is that with Excel, it is too cumbersome or next to impossible to document the source path for XSD files. With DI, since we're able to model it in the tool, we can drag and drop and we don't have to type the source path. It's automatic.

This tool has taken us from having nothing to being very efficient. It's really hard to compare because we have never had these features before.

The data pipeline definitely improved the speed of analysis in our use case. We have not timed it but having the lineage, and being able to just click, makes it easier and faster. We believe that we are the envy of other departments that are not using DI. For them to conduct an impact analysis takes perhaps a few minutes or even a few hours, whereas, for us, it takes less than one minute to complete.

We have automated parts of our data management infrastructure and it has had a positive effect on our quality and speed of delivery. We have a template that the system uses to create SQL code for us. The code handles the moving of data and if they are direct move fields, it means that we don't need a person to code this operation. Instead, we just run the template.

The automation that we use is isolated and not for everything, but it affects our cost and risk in a positive way because it works efficiently to produce code.

It is reasonable to say that DI's generation of production code through automated code engineering reduces the cost from initial concept to implementation. However, it is only a small percentage of our usage.

With respect to the transparency and accuracy of data movement and data integration, this solution has had a positive impact on our process. If we bring a new source system into the data warehouse and the interconnection between that system and us is through XML then it's easier for us to start the mapping in DI. It is both efficient and effective. Downstream, things are more efficient as well. It used to take days for the BAs to do the mapping and now, it probably takes less than one hour.

We have tried the AIMatch feature a couple of times, and it was okay. It is intended to help automatically discover relationships and associations in data and I found that it was positive, albeit more relevant to the data governance team, of which I am not part. I think that it is a feature in its infancy and there is a lot of room for improvement.

Overall, DI's data cataloging, data literacy, and automation have helped our decision-makers because when a source wants to change something, we immediately know what the impact is going to be downstream. For example, if a source were to say "Okay, we're no longer going to send this field to you," then immediately we will know what the impact downstream will be. In response, either we can inform upstream to hold off on making changes, or we can inform the departments that will be impacted. That in itself has a lot of value.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are lineage and impact analysis. In our use case, we deal with data transformations from multiple sources into our data warehouse. As part of this process, we need traceability of the fields, either from the source or from the presentation layer. If something is changing then it will help us to determine the full impact of the modifications. Similarly, if we need to know where a specific field in the presentation layer is coming from, we can trace it back to its location in the source.

The feature used to fill metadata is very useful for us because we can replicate the data into our analytics as metadata.

What needs improvement?

Improvement is required for the AIMatch feature, which is supposed to help automatically discover relationships in data. It is a feature that is in its infancy and I have not used it more than a few times.

There is room for improvement with the data cataloging capability. Right now, there is a list of a lot of sources that they can catalog, or they can create metadata upon, but if they can add more then that would be a good plus for this tool. The reason we need this functionality is that we don't use the modeling tool that erwin has. Instead, we use a tool called Power Viewer. Both erwin and Power View can create XSD files but you cannot import a file created by Power Viewer into erwin. If they were more compatible with Power Viewer and other data modeling solutions, it would be a plus. As it is now, if we have a data model exported into XSD format from Power Viewer, it's really hard or next to impossible to import into DI.

We have a lot of projects and a large number of users, and one feature that is missing is being able to assign users to groups. For example, it would be nice to have IDs such that all of the users from finance have the same one. This would make it much easier to manage the accounts.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using erwin Data Intelligence (DI) for Data Governance since 2013.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of DI has come a long way. Now, it's very stable. If I were rating it six years ago, my assessment would definitely have been different. At this time, however, I have no complaints.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have the enterprise version and we can add as many projects as we need to. It would be helpful if we had a feature to keep better track of the users, such as a group membership field.

We are the only department in the organization that uses this product. This is because, in our department, we handle data warehousing, and mapping documentation is very important. It is like a bible to us and without it, we cannot function properly. We use it very extensively and other departments are now considering it.

In terms of roles, we have BAs with read-write access. We also have power users, who are the ones that work with the data catalog, create the projects, and make sure that the metadata is all up-to-date. Maintenance of this type also ensures that metadata is removed when it is no longer in use. We have QA/Dev roles that are read-only. These people read the mapping and translate it into code, or do QA on it. Finally, we have an audit role, where the users have read-only access to everything.

One of the tips that I have for users is that if there are a lot of mapping documents, for example, more than a few hundred rows for a few hundred records, it's easier to download it, do it in Excel, and upload it again.

All roles considered, we have between 30 and 40 users.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is good.

When erwin took over this product from the previous company, the support improved. The previous company was not as large and as such, erwin is more structured and has processes in place. For example, if we report issues, erwin has its own portal. We also have a specific channel to go through, whereas previously, we contacted support through our account manager.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Other than what we were doing with Excel, we were not using another solution prior to this one.

How was the initial setup?

We have set up this product multiple times. The first setup was very challenging, but that was before erwin inherited or bought this product from the original developer. When erwin took over, there were lots of improvements made. As it is now, the initial setup is not complex and is no longer an issue. However, when we first started in 2013, it was a different story.

When we first deployed, close to 10 years ago, we were new to the product and we had a lot of challenges. It is now fairly easy to do and moreover, erwin has good support if we run into any trouble. I don't recall exactly how long it took to initially deploy, but I would estimate a full day. Nowadays, given our experience and what we know, it would take less than half a day. Perhaps one or two hours would be sufficient.

The actual deployment of the tool itself has no value because it's not a transactional system. With a transactional system, for example, I can do things like point of sale. In the case of this product, BAs create the mappings. That said, once it's deployed, the BAs can begin working to create mappings. Immediately, we can perform data cataloging, and given the correct connections, for example to Oracle, we can begin to use the tool right away. In that sense, there is a good time-to-value and it requires minimal support to get everything running.

We have an enterprise version, so if a new department wants to use it then we don't need to install it again. It is deployed on a single system and we give access to other departments, as required. As far as installing the software on a new machine, we have a rough plan that we follow but it is not a formal one that is written down or optimized for efficiency.

What about the implementation team?

We had support from our reseller during the initial setup but they were not on-site.

Maintenance is done in-house and we have at least three people who are responsible. Because of our company structure, there is one who handles the application or web server. A second person is responsible for AWS, and finally, there is somebody like me on the administrative side.

What was our ROI?

We used to calculate ROI several years ago but are no longer concerned with it. This product is very effective and it has made our jobs easier, which is a good return.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We operate on a yearly subscription and because it is an enterprise license we only have one. It is not dependent on the number of users. This product is not expensive compared to the other ones on the market.

We did not buy the full DI, so the Business Glossary costs us extra. As such, we receive two bills from erwin every year.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Informatica but after we completed a cost-benefit analysis, we opted to not move forward with it.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anybody who is considering this product is that it's a useful tool. It is good for lineage and good for documenting mappings. Overall, it is very useful for data warehousing, and it is not expensive compared to similar solutions on the market.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

10.2
**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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