What is our primary use case?
The three big areas that we use it for right now: metadata management as a whole, versioning of metadata, and metadata mappings and automation. We have started to adopt data profiling from this tool, but it is an ongoing process. I will be adding these capabilities to my team probably in Q1 of this year.
How has it helped my organization?
It is improving just a small piece of our company. We are an extremely big company. Implementing this to the company, there is probably a zero percent adoption rate because I think it is only implemented in the development team of our platform.
If you look at this from the perspective of the platform that we are delivering, the adoption rate is around 90 percent because almost every area and step somehow touches the tool. We, as a program, are delivering a data-oriented platform, and erwin DI is helping us build that for our customers.
The tool is not like Outlook where everyone in the company really uses it or SharePoint that is company-wide. We are using this in our program as a tool to help my technical analysts, data modelers, developers, etc.
What is most valuable?
The possibility to write automation scripts is the biggest benefit for us. We have several products with metadata and metadata mapping capabilities. The big difference when we were choosing this product was the ability to run automation scripts against metadata and metadata mappings. Right now, we have a very high level of automation based on these automation scripts, so it's really the core feature for us.
I'm working as a solution architect in one of the biggest projects and we really need to deliver quickly. The natural thing was that we went through the automation and started adopting some small pieces. Now, we have all our software development processes built around the automation capabilities. I can estimate that we lowered our time to market by 70 percent right now using these automation scripts, which is a really big thing.
The second best feature that we are heavily using in our project is the capability to create the mappings and treat them as a documentation. This has shown us the mappings to the different stakeholders, have some reviews, etc. Having this in one product is very nice.
What needs improvement?
The SDK behind this entire product needs improvement. The company really should focus more on this because we were finding some inconsistencies on the LDK level. Everything worked fine from the UI perspective, but when we started doing some deep automation scripts going through multiple API calls inside the tool, then only some pieces of it work or it would not return the exact data it was supposed to do. This is the number one area for improvement.
The tool provides the WSDL API as another point to access the data. This is the same story as with the SDK. We are heavily using this API and are finding some inconsistencies in its responses, especially as we are going for more nonstandard features inside. The team has been fixing this for us, so we have some support. This was probably overlooked by the product team to focus more on the UI rather than on the API.
For how long have I used the solution?
We have been using the product for two and a half years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
There have been no issues with the stability from the erwin DI platform. We haven't encountered any problems for the last two and a half years.
It is maintained by another team. erwin is maintained by the team who generally maintains our platform. However, the effort is close to zero because there is nothing happening. Hold the backups and everything is automated by default on our shared platforms on which it is installed.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It is a Java-based platform. So, if there would be some issues with the performance of this platform, we would probably migrate this to a bigger server. Therefore, it can scale.
It does not have fancy cloud scaling tools capabilities, but we don't need this. For this type of tool and deployment, it's sufficient.
We have around 40 users. All the roles are very different because half of the developers work with different technologies. One-fourth of the users are technical analysts. The rest of the users are data modelers.
How are customer service and technical support?
We have used the technical support several times. It's really different based on the complexity of the task. Usually, they meet their SLAs for fixes and changes in the required support time.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We did not previously use another product.
We used this product even before it was bought by erwin. Before, it was a company called AnalytiX DS. Then, after two years ago, erwin bought this company and their product, doing some rebranding. So, we started using this product as version 8.0, then it was migrated to version 8.3. Now, we are using version 9.0. We went through a few versions of this product.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup was not so simple, but it wasn't hard. If it would be between a one and five, with one being easy and five being hard, I would put it at a two.
It was a new tool with new features. It had to be installed on-premise. Therefore, we struggled a bit with it. We were using it for quite a complex task, so we needed it to go through areas that would be potentially supported with the tool. The work associated with this initial setup to define that was not so easy, just to go through everything.
Some companies have an initial packet that they show you everything in a very structured way. When we were implementing this, we really needed to discover what we needed rather than be given the documentation showing that this is here, this can contribute to your use case, and so on. We needed a lot of effort from our side. In comparison, I'm leading some other PoCs right now with other vendors in different areas. Those vendors contribute highly to me being capable to assess their tools, install and use them.
The deployment took two days and was nothing special. It was just a simple Java application with a back-end database.
Migrating my team to use this tool properly, do some training, putting some capabilities so does people have some reason to use the tool, that took us around three months. Because we are using this for automation, the automation is an ongoing process lasting continuously for these two and a half years because we are adopting and changing to the new requirements. So, it's like continuous improvement and continuous delivery here.
What about the implementation team?
I was involved from the very beginning of the PoC, actively checking the very basic capabilities. Then, I designed how we would use it, leading the whole automation stream around this tool. So, I was involved from the very beginning to the full implementation.
It took us around three months to introduce this tool.
What was our ROI?
If you count that it takes 70 percent less time to deliver and multiply this by 40 people who works around the development process, this is a big time savings that we can use for more development. From my perspective, there is a very big return on investment for this tool.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
The licensing cost is around $7,000 for user. This is an estimation.
There is an additional fee for the server maintenance.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We evaluated four products and chose erwin. None of the competitors had this out-of-the-box automation feature. This was the biggest thing for me because we were looking for a tool which would allow us to do big scale automation. When I was searching for this tool, my responsibility was to find a tool that could be used in our development process and core automation product. We built the whole development lifecycle and everything. In our platform, we are doing some development around automation capabilities. Usually people have a manual process and they automate some parts of it, we went the other way. We were searching for automation capabilities and built our entire process around its capabilities to use them as much as we could. The key differentiator straight from the very beginning was the automation capability.
Other competitors were showing us that they had an API and we could use that to automate somewhere else. Automating somewhere else means to me that I need to create some other platform, server, etc., then maintain it with some other resources to just make it run. This was really not enough for us. In addition, erwin already had some written automation templates on the PoC level which showed us that they had something that worked.
At the PoC level, erwin was able to convince the customer (us) that this is the automation, this is how it runs, and you can use it almost straightaway.
What other advice do I have?
I learned how to automate in the data area and how this is very different from any CI/CD development platforms that I was working on before. I learned that we need totally different things to automate properly in the data area. We need very accurate metadata. We need precise mappings reviewed by different data stakeholders.
I would rate this product as an eight (out of 10). I can imagine some capabilities for this product that would make it even better.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?