erwin Data Modeler (DM) Review

Seeing a picture that shows you how the data relates to each other helps you better understand what the data is and how to use it

What is our primary use case?

We use the erwin Data Modeler tool to document conceptual, logical, and physical data design.

How has it helped my organization?

The automated generation of the DDL ensures that the data store looks exactly as the data design. It also ensures that the standards that are governed are followed and implemented successfully.

What is most valuable?

We use the diagrams and data dictionary capabilities to help users understand the data environments, as well as how the data relates to each other. We'll use the naming standard master file to govern and ensure that we have consistent naming and abbreviations across and within data stores. We use the forward engineering templates to standardize and govern the generation of the data definition language that is used to actually make the changes to the data stores. We also use the Compare capability to ensure that we have up to date production data models. And we are looking forward to the integration of the Data Modeler metadata with the data intelligence suite in R2.

The visual data models for helping to overcome data source complexity and enabling understanding and collaboration around maintenance and usage are excellent. A picture speaks 1,000 words. Seeing a picture that shows you how the data relates to each other helps you better understand what the data is and how to use it. Pairing that information with a dictionary, which has the definitions of the tables, columns, the entities, and attributes, ensures that the users understand what the data is so that they can use it best and most successfully.

Its ability to compare and synchronize data sources with data models in terms of accuracy and speed for keeping them in sync is excellent. 

We don't typically use the configurable workspace and modeling canvas because while the platform allows for the flexibility to dynamically include multiple colors and multiple themes, feedback from business users is that the multiple colors and themes can become overwhelming. When you do that, you need to include a key so that people understand what the colors mean.

Its ability to generate database code from a model for a wide array of data sources cuts our development time. By how much depends on the number of changes that are required within the data store. It is certainly better to automate the forward engineering of the DDL creation, rather than having someone manually type it all out and then possibly make a human error with spelling irregularities.

Its code generation ensures accurate engineering of data sources. It decreases development time because it's automated.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see the reporting capabilities be more dynamic and more inclusive of information. The API is very sparsely understood by people across the user community.

I would also like to see a greater amount of integration with the erwin Data Intelligence Suite and the erwin Web Portal for the diagram delivery. That would be beneficial to all.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using erwin for twenty years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable, especially having been available for use for so many years.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is scaling well to include the new data structures, rather than being stagnant and only continuing to support the older DBMS types.

We have over 100 Data Modelers in my company and the users of the metadata go into the 1,000s.

We have an administrator who is responsible for the software upgrades, we have a governance community in the Center of Excellence, and we have the actual Data Modelers themselves who provide the delivery of the physical data models. We have data architects who create business, conceptual, and logical data models. And then, of course, we have our developers who use the data model information to understand the code that they are writing. We also have the business users who use the diagrams and the data dictionaries to understand the data so that they use it correctly.

Data Modeler is being used very extensively. We are considered power users within the community of users.

As new applications are developed, we may or may not need new licenses for erwin Data Modeler.

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

I have used SILVERRUN, which is a very old tool and actually has Sunset. I have also used SAP Sybase PowerDesigner. The primary reason for using PowerDesigner over erwin Data Modeler for that decision was that we were able to program the PL/SQL right into Sybase PowerDesigner. At the time, it had the capability to order the run of the PL/SQL. So the Sybase PowerDesigner would not make the changes to the database via the DDL, but it also generated the PL/SQL code that moved the data from source to target. That's a capability that erwin Data Modeler has never had. I don't know if it is on the roadmap for inclusion in the future, but I also do not see it as a requirement for erwin Data Modeler going forward because there are many ETL tools out there readily available.

I've also used IDERA. The interesting feature about IDERA that differentiates it from erwin Data Modeler is that the model repository actually separates the logical data models from the physical data models. Whereas erwin is basically the flip of a switch. It's not a true logical model, it's a logical representation of the physical data model.

I think the other thing that sets erwin Data Modeler apart is the model Mart repository, which protects a company's intellectual property within the data models and makes them available across the company so that the information is shared with anyone who has an erwin Data Modeler license. That was not available in SILVERRUN. It was also not available when I used PowerDesigner at the time. It was about 15 years ago for PowerDesigner. It is available for IDERA.

How was the initial setup?

I find the setup straightforward. It is very easy to install. It took minutes.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI.

The reusability of some of the information within erwin Data Modeler, coupled with the capability to govern the information such as the data domains, the naming standard master file, degeneration of the DDL, every piece of automation ensures that there is consistency across and within data stores, and reduces the time to deliver the information because of the automation and governance built into the tool.

Whether or not the accuracy and speed of the solution and transforming complex designs into well-aligned data sources make the cost of the tool worth it would be a judgment call. I do think it is worth it. But of course, in this day and age where people are offshoring all of their work trying to save money, makes one consider the cost of any investment.

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

I think that the pricing is reasonable. It has called Concurrent licensing, where you can have a number of people share an erwin license. I think that that pricing is a little bit high, but that is a personal opinion.

What other advice do I have?

The biggest lesson that I've learned is actually with a lack of data modeling. We have teams who have complained that data modeling takes too long. They would rather have developers manually code the DDL, which creates a lot of mistakes, increases the backlog, and increases not only the time to delivery but the cost to delivery. There is a lack of understanding of the agile methodology around data modeling and the incorporation of the emergent design happening in the scrum teams with the intentional design of the data architect creating a data model. Given an opportunity to follow the correct path and perform data modeling, we have seen a significant return on investment with decreases in delivery time and decreases in project cost.

I would rate erwin Data Modeler a ten out of ten. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**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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