What is our primary use case?
We're supposed to be using it for designing new data models, appending and editing data models. We're doing a lot of reverse engineering on our existing databases.
But we have a plan in the works to begin using it as part of our data governance process, something we don't have currently.
How has it helped my organization?
We found a lot of duplication, a lot of non-conformity in the way our databases were designed. By identifying these situations, we're able to go back in and try to create a more standardized solution.
What is most valuable?
The most valuable feature is data modeling, primarily, because it's something that has been lacking in our systems development for 20 years. There was no accountability for data structure.
For how long have I used the solution?
More than five years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
We did have a big issue when we upgraded to the 2016 version. The Team Server portion never did quite install correctly, and/or the database was corrupted, and we never figured it out.
We're in the process of trying to upgrade to the most current version now, and we're starting over with a fresh database. Then we'll move models from the old version to the new version instead of trying to upgrade.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
We've had no issues with scalability.
How are customer service and technical support?
Tech support is a sticking point with me. I am really disappointed in the tech support. We pay for the Platinum level. It takes hours to get a response. We're on East Coast time. I know that most of their support people are West Coast, but it's very common for me to put in a call in the morning, prior to lunch, and get a response from someone after I've gone home for the day. I then come in the next morning and try to connect with that person and, of course, they're not in yet. I've had some really disappointing experiences with support.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We had a hodgepodge of tools. The only one that had previously been used as our "official" tool for a while was Sybase PowerDesigner. It did well, but when we tried to come up with a standard of what we were going to move to, we had some federal employees and some of our contract employees all saying, "Well, I want to use this," and, "I want to use that." We couldn't standardize on anything. We did some market research and decided ER/Studio was the thing to use, and standardized from there.
How was the initial setup?
The first few years, we only had the standalone ER/Studio, without the Team Server, without the Repository. Of course, that was a straightforward Windows install.
When we first got the Repository and Team Server, they were different products. The Repository installed fine, the Team server installed fine. We didn't really have an issue until the upgrade to 2016, where the Team Server was combined with the Repository. Apparently, there was a step in the instructions that was easily overlooked, and sure enough, I overlooked it.
We've got some training coming up. We want to learn more of the features of the tool, things like the Data Lineage and how to use the ETL tools. We bought this great product and we're not taking advantage of it. That's my only complaint.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
I'm a firm believer that all software is overpriced these days but, comparatively speaking, I think ER/Studio is worth the money.
We have to use the Enterprise License Center, what used to be AppWave, and I hate it. We've got concurrent user licenses for ER/Studio, but we also use it for the Embarcadero RAD Studio. We're in a multi-user environment where we have federal users who work here in headquarters, we have contract users who work in their offices, we have contract users who work from home. In order to get the Enterprise License Center to work, they have to be on our network, at least temporarily, to get the License Center to recognize the software and set up. It's a battle every time, trying to get somebody's license renewed or upgraded. There needs to be a better way.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We looked at Sybase PowerDesigner again. I recall at the time they said it wasn't going to be supported anymore, but apparently, it still is. Of course, we looked at ERwin but a lot of people thought the ERwin interface was clunky back then. And at that time, there weren't any freeware or shareware tools that were comparable. So those were the main three options we looked at.
What other advice do I have?
Especially with the Repository/Team Server installation, get Idera to install it for you. Just watch over their shoulder while they do it.
Otherwise, just learn it and enjoy it.
I rate this product at nine out of 10 because it does so much. It's so powerful. The only reason I don't give it a 10 is because it probably has things in it that I'll never use because I don't know how to use them.