What is our primary use case?
I mostly use it for enterprise architectural work, doing business process modeling and high-level strategic modeling with its capabilities.
Others in our company are using it for IT infrastructure, such as aligning requirements to system solutions; that kind of architectural work.
We don't use it much for the data architecture capability it has. That's actually where Erwin started, it's their strength. They're one of the premier companies in that space. I'm not a database architect, but I'm aware that it's a great product in that space. We just haven't used it much for that.
We just upgraded to the 2018 version. We were using the 2015 version, the Casewise Suite and Evolve. So we're a bit behind.
How has it helped my organization?
It's helped us advance in our capabilities to perform model-based systems engineering, and also model-based enterprise architecture; in those two domains. By placing the data and the metadata into a model, which is what the tool does, you gain the abilities for linkages between different objects in the model, linkages that you cannot get on paper or with Visio or PowerPoint. That is a huge discriminator.
In addition, the solution’s web platform tells us which insights have been accessed the most. That provides us with clues as to what are the most important things to our stakeholders, so we can better adapt to their needs.
I use the automatic diagramming features a lot. When one of Erwin's company reps showed that to me a couple of years ago, I was stunned. That saves hours of work in diagramming. That capability is something I have not seen in other suppliers' tools. That really helps too with when your data is up to date. The tool will then automatically generate the updated diagram based on the data, so you know it's always the most current version. You can't do that in things like Visio and PowerPoint. They're static snapshots of a diagram at some point in time. This is live and dynamic.
What is most valuable?
There are two valuable features. One is the ease of use with configuration management control. From what I understand, there are other solutions out there and they can be really problematic. It's just seamless with the Casewise tool.
The other feature is the Evolve product. I have not seen capabilities for web-sharing and interaction with the architecture from any other supplier. It's a great capability and I've been promoting that for a number of years. Currently, my colleagues don't yet use Evolve to experiment and suggest changes that can be published back into our live model. That's a cultural thing that we're trying to get people used to. We want them to move away from PowerPoint and Visio and work in the model. That's a great feature that will provide a lot of benefits. But it's a cultural problem that we're trying to overcome.
The collaborative web modeling capability has helped somewhat with the speed and quality of designs, but because of that cultural barrier, again, it hasn't reached its full potential. I've used it a lot to show things to executives and to provide a link to them so they can review the models. People see the value, but what I'm not getting, at the developer/peer-reviewer level, is people to really collaborate. But for sharing information with project managers and executives, we've had some successes there.
Erwin EA provides superior, exemplar capabilities to scale across all stakeholders. The product is incredibly flexible. It comes with tons of capabilities, but you can also customize the tool if you need to.
The fact that admin tasks are performed through a desktop application means it's very easy to use. That works quite well. It's very easy to administer.
For how long have I used the solution?
We have been using EA Agile for about five years now.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
I think it scales well. We've done some looking into the licensing and how many people can use it. It has good scalability features. It can support multiple users with different levels of access, from "full access," to "some access," to "read-only access," so it gets to a wide user community.
We have between 50 to 100 users. They include administrators, enterprise architects, systems architects, and we have project management, executives, and business stakeholders who are looking at the read-only portions of the data. We build the enterprise systems architectures and those stakeholders have the ability, with read-only, to look into the latest, up-to-date diagrams.
Our use is corporate-wide — and we're a big company with around 90,000 employees. We don't use it extensively throughout the corporation; it's used in a couple of domain areas. We are trying to expand the usage of it a bit.
For deployment of the solution and its maintenance, the people involved are not full-time on those tasks, but there are somewhere between two and four people who have a hand in the actual deployment of the system.
How are customer service and technical support?
The support personnel are fantastic. Just the other day I was on the phone again with one of the support personnel who was giving me some advice on how to do something I was trying to accomplish. They have great support.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We used the Erwin Data Modeler tool in the past, before we went to the EA tool. We went with EA to perform enterprise architecture and systems architecture work in a modeling solution. That's the driving reason to use these kinds of high-end tools.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
This was done about 10 years ago, and I didn't lead that study. A friend of mine did. I do remember that they looked at Magic Tour, Rhapsody, and Systems Enterprise Architect.
What other advice do I have?
Erwin EA Agile is very easy to use. It has great web-sharing of architecture to many different stakeholders, so that you can socialize your architecture.
One of the things I was most interested in, in the 2018 version we just deployed, is the pan and zoom capability. I haven't tried it yet because we just got it running yesterday.
We have not used a lot of the solution's integration capabilities with other tools in our system, yet. What we have done is a lot of Excel import and export, and that works fantastically. I've done some experimentation with the Visio import and export, and that is helpful. What we haven't done yet is direct connections with other modeling tools or our other systems of record, but it's something we are looking into. With the Excel importing, the "up to date" part is the challenge. If we had a real-time integration, we could keep things up to date for whatever kinds of change points we had. With Excel, it is more that you have to export from one system then import it to another, so it's better for data that doesn't change that often.
In terms of the comprehensiveness of the data when importing from Excel, it's fine. You can get a lot of data from Excel and bring it in. As an example, well over a year ago we were going through a major merger. People were collecting information in Excel about all the interfaces between all the systems, theirs and ours, and how we were going to reconcile them. I was able to take that spreadsheet, that had 250 integrations in it, and rapidly, in less than a half an hour, bring them into the model and start showing diagrams that visualize that data. That was huge.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?
Which version of this solution are you currently using?