erwin Data Modeler (DM) Review

Support for Snowflake helps our teams adhere to internal standards that couldn't be satisfied with other tools

What is our primary use case?

We use the Workgroup Edition for sharing data models across the organization. The primary reason we're using the Workgroup Edition over the Standard Edition is the centralized repository of models.

Standard Edition requires individuals to determine how to share data models, whether you share them in a local LAN directory, through email, SharePoint, or Livelink. You have to come up with your own versioning scheme and your method for sharing models. With the Workgroup Edition, because it has the centralized repository with version control embedded in it, it standardizes how your organization does versioning and centralizes all the models at the same time.

How has it helped my organization?

The solution's ability to compare and synchronize data sources with data models is fantastic. We use it for that on a regular basis to make sure that changes haven't been made to the database outside of the modeling process. I can take existing databases and reverse engineer them and understand their structure within 15 minutes. If I didn't have Data Modeler it would take hours. It increases our productivity and helps in understanding our legacy application.

The organization that I'm currently with has not historically done data modeling as a discipline. We're using the tool to introduce data modeling into the organization because it is an intuitive tool. There are other modeling products on the market that aren't as intuitive, tools that are currently in use at my company. With this tool, we have an easier ramp-up with our new staff because it is more intuitive.

The solution's support for Snowflake affects our organization's data modeling tremendously because we didn't have a decent tool for the Snowflake product. There are a couple of tools on the market, but they are not good modeling tools. The fact that erwin Data Modeler supports Snowflake is a huge benefit to this organization. The existing procedures couldn't be satisfied with the tooling that my company was using. It's a huge plus because it was difficult for teams that are migrating to Snowflake to adhere to the internal company standards of data modeling, because there were no products that offered Snowflake as one of the solutions.

It also reduces development time because you don't have to write DDL manually anymore. You use the data modeling tool to generate the DDL. It reduces development time by about 10 percent. Workgroup's code generation helps to ensure accurate engineering of data sources, which reduces the number of errors during development. If someone is writing DDL by hand and they don't get the syntax right, they have to figure out what's wrong with it to be able to fix it. It helps you build your table structures more quickly so that you can actually begin development of the business logic in your application layer.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features of the Workgroup Edition are the

  • centralization of the models
  • flexibility of the directory structure
  • application of the naming standards across all models in the repository.

The centralization of models helps share models across the organization. Instead of having to email someone and say, "Hey, where did you put the model for this?" it's easily found. It also makes it easy to organize models. When you work in a large organization that has more than 1,000 models, you need to be able to organize them in some fashion.

Historically, the Workgroup Edition had a flat structure so you had to name a model in a particular way to be able to find it, when you had thousands of models. With the current version, because you have a flexible directory, you can organize your models any way that your organization feels would work well.

In addition, the visualization side of erwin really helps people to understand the structure of their data. It greatly enhances their ability to create the appropriate modifications to their existing structure, because they can graphically see how their structure is currently laid out. It helps with maintenance on existing applications, and it dramatically helps, when you're doing greenfield, in understanding your data requirements in a graphical format. The graphical aspect helps non-technical people to understand the database design. For the non-technical folk, it is very helpful for understanding the design and whether or not the design is meeting their requirements.

For anyone who's interested in the data design of an application, or a warehouse, the erwin Data Modeling tool is very helpful. That's especially true for people who don't understand the structure of databases. It helps them understand the relationships between tables, and what is contained within a table. It's an understanding that they don't have without this kind of product.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see the ability to support more NoSQL platforms more quickly. 

In addition, enhancing the graphics to render more quickly would be beneficial for any user.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using erwin Data Modeler since 1992. In my current company, they were already using Data Modeler when I started in December of 2020, but I'm implementing the Workgroup Edition. They didn't have that.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Workgroup is a really stable product. 

The challenges I have found with it, from a stability perspective, are simply because of the sizes of the organizations that I have worked at. The sizes of some of the warehouses we have are quite ridiculous. When you get upwards of 5,000 tables and a million columns in a single model, the tool shows symptoms, primarily, of memory issues, and it becomes slower. To be frank, it's a result of poor design of a legacy database in the first place. It's not a fault with the erwin product, rather it's the fault of the people who designed that database.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In the past, we have had problems with scalability, but the vendor has fixed all of those issues over the last two years. I contacted them directly and they fixed things in the product for all of their clients.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their tech support is adequate. It's easy to elevate an issue if I run into support personnel who aren't capable of handling it.

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

The company that I'm with now uses IBM InfoSphere Data Architect. We're switching to erwin because the IBM product is inferior and it is in maintenance mode and will not be supported. It also does not support Snowflake or any non-relational databases, such as Cassandra or Couchbase or Mongo. Workgroup does.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of Workgroup is easy. The installation software is very straightforward.

You make the rest of it as difficult as your organization needs it to be. The directory structure that you establish is dependent on what your organization requires. In addition, it offers two different methods of user-authentication and four different profiles to manage the security of who can do what within the centralized repository. It gives you complete flexibility for your data modeling practice to be as open or as closed as your organization desires.

The amount of time the deployment will take will be dependent upon the specifics of an organization's modeling. In a large organization, you can't just install software. You have to go through a process that takes weeks, such as packaging the software for distribution onto desktop. The back end of the Workgroup Edition, which provides you the centralized repository, is an easy implementation. It's the directory structure, and the security that you want as an organization, that drive complexity into the deployment. If I wanted to let every person in the organization modify every model, I could be done in a day. If I need 20 different Active Directory groups and different levels of security, then I have to think through how I want my organization to use the tool, to set up the security appropriately. The tool itself makes it very easy to do that. The hard part is deciding how you want your organization to operate.

What about the implementation team?

We work directly with erwin.

What was our ROI?

I don't think we'll have any return on investment in the near term. It's more of a long-term investment and a change in the culture of the company. It will take time before it shows any ROI.

The tool is definitely worth its price.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at ER/Studio. We chose erwin because ER/Studio does not support Snowflake or Cassandra or Couchbase. They do support Mongo, but that isn't a database that we use.

What other advice do I have?

You really need to sit down and consider how you want to organize your models, and how you should set up security, based on your organization's needs. The bigger the company, the more complex it can be, so you really need to think that through prior to implementing.

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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