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iServer Alternatives and Competitors

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Olga Lucia Salgado
Senior Enterprise Architect at a manufacturing company with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 20
Helps us decide where we should invest in our IT portfolio, and will help us with mitigating risk in our landscape

Pros and Cons

  • "I like the flexibility of the modeling part for standards like ArchiMate and, at same time, BPMN. It allows us to connect elements from different areas and to have a single repository and a single source of truth. It gives us one place to do analysis throughout the organization."
  • "There is room for improvement in making it more seamless between the modeling and the analysis pieces. Sometimes you have to do some work in the backend to ensure that the HoriZZon portal really gets all of the information the way you want it. They are working on the seamlessness between what they call Enterprise Studio and HoriZZon."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for enterprise architecture information, with the main purpose today being to analyze our IT investment portfolio and the architecture related to it. That includes process, data, applications, and infrastructure. We collect all of that information by each of our initiatives or projects and we analyze it there. It gives us a single source of data.

We're using the latest cloud version.

How has it helped my organization?

It requires a lot of effort to really standardize and have a single source of truth. All of that effort can pay off when we scale and grow more and we can keep building on top of that. The functionality allows us to do that, even though I don't think we are using the full range of its capabilities yet. Because we are using the cloud version, they keep bringing new functionality. That sometimes allows us to do things in a better way.

We now have one way for communicating between IT and business, and that's true, as well, for our partners or implementers when we do IT projects. That way, everybody is talking about the same elements and we don't have different versions to refer to. The benefit is mainly in communication and collaboration.

In addition, the HoriZZon portal allows us to generate visualizations and charts that can be understood by people who aren't enterprise architects. We just started using that more extensively one month ago. It requires some understanding of how the data source works, but after you get to that point, it's pretty easy to start generating charts and information that non-technical people will get and understand. And at the end of the day, that is our purpose: to communicate to our broader audience. These visualizations and charts help business stakeholders assess and make investment decisions on technology to really optimize our IT investments, and they provide the right capabilities to achieve this strategy.

It will also help us to quickly identify where there are risks in our technology portfolio. We are implementing some metrics that allow us to measure and do a risk assessment of our applications. So far we have prepared all of the foundations to allow us to start creating that type of analysis. This is a very important aspect because it's a way that we can provide value to the organization, from the architectural perspective. So it's not only to help on the investment side, but also to prevent risk. In terms of putting plans in place to mitigate those risks, we are not there yet, but I think it will. We are still more at the stage of implementing the methodology, determining how we do assessments, and creating all of the metrics. When we finish those pieces, we will be able to use it to make decisions and plans.

BiZZdesign helps us look at everything in our enterprise architecture through a business capability lens, rather than in EA language. We are translating almost every single action from the infrastructure or technical level into what it means in terms of our capabilities or functionality.

The solution also brings high visibility into the costs of how we are set up in our infrastructure. It comes down to two main areas: helping us to decide where we should put our investment in the portfolio, and at the same time, how we mitigate risk in our current landscape. Of course, that includes costs. But because we are just building the foundation, we haven't done that yet, but that's what we are going to end up using it for: our IT investments and analyzing our operating models.

What is most valuable?

I like the flexibility of the modeling part for standards like ArchiMate and, at same time, BPMN. It allows us to connect elements from different areas and to have a single repository and a single source of truth. It gives us one place to do analysis throughout the organization. I also like the dashboards.

Its breadth of capabilities is very good from the modeling perspective, as it really covers all of the standards that we use in our company and even some that we haven't really used yet. I'm sure we will use those others as well because we keep growing our information.

What needs improvement?

They are already working on this, but there is room for improvement in making it more seamless between the modeling and the analysis pieces. Sometimes you have to do some work in the backend to ensure that the HoriZZon portal really gets all of the information the way you want it. They are working on the seamlessness between what they call Enterprise Studio and HoriZZon. It's something we have voiced to their team and I believe it's in their roadmap.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using BiZZdesign HoriZZon since May of 2019.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is pretty good. I have never lost any data, even if my connection has gone down. Because it's on the cloud, you really need to have an internet connection all the time if you're using it. But whenever my connection has gone off, I have never lost data.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

So far, the scalability is pretty good. We could keep growing and adding a lot more use cases that we don't have today.

We want to keep growing more use cases, more metrics, more analyses, and that means getting more data into it. One of the bigger challenges is how we ensure that the data is consistent and that it's the right data. And we need more people to maintain that data. Ideally, you should be connected to the source, even if it's done automatically with less people. That's where we need to keep growing, to make the ingestion of data more automatic.

How are customer service and technical support?

Our experience with their technical support has been very good. They have a system where you raise a ticket in their online support. By answering different questions you are able to raise how critical the issue is. For the ones that I have raised that were very critical—and that has only happened on a couple of occasions—they have responded very quickly; within one hour. For the other ones that are not that critical, there is still a good response time. Overall, it's pretty good.

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

We were using Excel and Visio and SharePoint. In addition, I and maybe one other person were using the free software called Archi, which has some modeling capabilities based on ArchiMate. We are still using Visio for business process modeling and that's mainly because it's quite expensive to give licenses to everybody. So some people are creating business process models in Visio, and then we upload them to BiZZdesign. We also still have a lot of data in SharePoint.

We brought in BiZZdesign to have consistency in our information and so that we don't have to update an Excel file 10 times, just to produce one analysis. With Excel we also didn't know which one was the latest version and that created a lot of challenges. Now we know the information is in one place and that we should just be looking there from now on.

In terms of making the business case for bringing on BiZZdesign, the vendor helped by providing insights and charts we could share with business leaders. We also got some guidance from third-party reviews. We agreed that we needed an enterprise architecture tool to help us to mature and organize our information and analysis. After that, it was more a matter of which one to choose, and that came down to a cost-benefit analysis. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward because we are using the cloud version. The part that took us slightly longer, but it was not that bad, was to ensure that our IT directory was connected to BiZZdesign. We used the same security setup that we have in the company. But that was okay.

We did the whole implementation within three months. It only took a couple of weeks to have the system running, and after that it was more up to us to decide and define how we were going to start using the tool. The tool is really open to whatever you are using in your company. So there's some work to do in defining your metamodels and what kind of data you want in it, and around how to implement or define the processes that you want around management of data.

What about the implementation team?

We used consultancy services from BiZZdesign. They were with us for four days. They not only helped us to learn how to use the tool, but from the enterprise architecture perspective, they showed us how to take advantage of it as well. That was pretty good.

From our side there were just three people involved. And that was more because of the data that we wanted to collect from different areas. We had to understand the current situation, what information we had available and whether we could upload it straight into BiZZdesign or we needed to do some compression of the data to allow us to use it.

Our whole team is involved in maintaining it. Everybody is responsible for their own information, so everybody has to add different pieces. Ours is a small team today with seven people, although I am the sole administrator. The team of seven is using the modeling piece and ensuring the data is being collected, but we have around 80 users who are reading and consuming the information from HoriZZon. They are mainly the IT community, in different IT areas. We have some business users, what we call "business sponsors," at least one per function. We also have an internal auditing team that is doing all of the analysis of risk in BiZZdesign.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI, but more from the non-financial benefits. The ROI is that our architectural practice has matured and BiZZdesign tools have supported that maturity process.

The speed to value is more dependent on the team than the tool. It's more a matter of the number of resources and the amount of time that we can dedicate to it, rather than the tool having any limitations. But the time to value is pretty fast, considering that we are a small team.

It took us almost a year to start showing value, and we are still in that process. It's only now that we have the foundation there and have established the processes where we can start seeing the different analyses and perspectives.

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

There are no costs in addition to their standard licensing fees.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated MEGA, Orbus and LeanIX.

LeanIX didn't have the whole modeling capability and we really wanted that. Orbus was connected to Microsoft and, in theory, that gave us some good options, but their pricing model was based on every single functionality having a price. The pricing was comparable but if we wanted to scale, it would have ended up being a lot more expensive. BiZZdesign gave us one price with all of the functionality, and we could scale as much as we needed.

What other advice do I have?

Start simple and be consistent and understand what is the longer-term vision, as well. That way, you know what the next step is and can keep growing in that direction. If you try to start with a complex model and to capture every single piece of data that is important from the beginning, it's going to be a bit bigger task. And because you really need to start showing value, you need to start with a small amount of information and keep growing from there.

HoriZZon, is an important part of the solution. For any use case that you create, you should really create it in parallel on the HoriZZon dashboard and analyses. That will allow you to start showing the value of the information that you are putting in to a bigger community. We took slightly longer to start doing that.

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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David Jaques-Watson
Senior Consultant at a tech services company with 11-50 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
A stable and scalable solution for business-oriented presentations

Pros and Cons

  • "Visio makes it easier than with other tools to do such tasks as changing things or coming up with one's own visual style for presentation purposes."
  • "The solution's flexibility can be perceived as both a strength and a weakness."

What is our primary use case?

I usually use Visio for really high-level conceptual modeling. Ironically, this works well with iServer. But, I use Visio for conceptual modeling since it makes it easy to draw things and is not as strict. This is because, at the conceptual level, one is not properly familiar with the details or constraints. This way, a business person would be able to critique something as being incorrect or not linked or drawn properly.

What is most valuable?

Visio makes it easier than with other tools to do such tasks as changing things or coming up with one's own visual style for presentation purposes. Mostly, the solution is employed for presentations made to business people, with the aim of facilitating their understanding of the design one wishes to use. Due to its greater flexibility when it comes to how things are joined together with lines, it is possible to put things together that would not work in a physical environment. This reduced constraint is good, as it allows one to initially familiarize himself with his system and ask the appropriate questions for which he may not have answers at the moment. At the minimum, this allows a person to put something up for critique in the event that it is incorrect.

The automated tools exist for making the computer do the dumb stuff. It may be worth going out to the market to see the sort of things people are trying to obtain. The solution integrates well with other tools and one can bring Visio diagrams into Word. Once in Word, a person can open the diagram for editing purposes if need be and then close it again and keep it in Word. So, all the integration capabilities with the other Office products is great. I can't think of much that I wish to add to the solution.

What needs improvement?

When creating a database, more stringency is required, as the computer is really dumb. A person is a lot more constrained, much more so when using the actual database creation tool, such as erwin Data Modeler. So the solution's flexibility can be perceived as both a strength and a weakness.

Visio is a general modeling tool, which encourages so many things beyond the use of mere data models. I think it's pretty good. Years back, when we first saw Visio being used with social security, the solution promoted itself as the missing piece. Word, Excel and Outlook were available. There was actually a piece missing where they stuck on the Windows logo.

In the late '90s or early 2000s it was possible to buy Visio with and without Office. They then removed this capability. Nowadays, one can obtain 365 but, with Visio, the component must be bought separately. The issue exists more with the purchasing and it would be nice to have it included as a standard feature. I believe they've now checked in Power BI as a standard component with Office, but Visio has so many more uses, since business people can use it to do swimlanes. Regular people and not just those with a technical background can use it for so much more. It should just be part of the enterprise or the professional version of Office. That's what I'd say. It's just so damn useful.

One of the things that was removed prior to it getting spun out was an enterprise version of Visio which could be set up, kicked off and actually go through one's network to ping everything that was attached to it, including printers, routers, PCs, laptops, et cetera. It would then bring all that information back and write a network diagram itself of all of those things. I thought that was a pretty cool part of the product. I'm not sure whether people now have network tools that do the same thing and that's why it's not used anymore. But, it was nice to see this sort of automation.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Visio since it came out in 1995 or 1996. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution seems to be pretty stable, because I've opened models that I wrote 20 years ago and it still reads them without incurring frequent crashes. I did something flaky the other day which it didn't like. I don't know whether that was because it was going through a virtual machine and have yet to track down what the core issue was. However, overall, things have been pretty stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

When it comes to scalability, I suppose that Visio is like any other product. One of the drawbacks of any Office product is its design for a single person. There exist ones on the web which allow for online editing in Excel, but many of the features I use do not exist in this version. This is a pain point.

We are talking about a one-person product, but the fact that you can print it off as a PDF and share it with others is a good feature of it. Visio differs from a real modeling tool, an expensive one such as, say... erwin Data Modeler, in that the latter has its own repository for storing models, which another person can access and use for modifying the relevant model. The model can be split into an overall one and a subject area. This way, two people can work in different subject areas. As long as two people are not working on the exact same object they will avoid stepping on each other's toes. Visio is akin to any other Office products, in that it involves a single person at a time per document.

How are customer service and technical support?

I don't believe I have ever had to contact technical support to get the solution to work. We usually look up things on the internet. For most Microsoft products the help is not too bad. The last time I had to contact Microsoft support was years ago, concerning flowcharts, I believe.

For any issues involving the local installation I would contact our own infrastructure team. This said, I don't believe I have ever had to go out with an actual bug in the product.

How was the initial setup?

I am not involved with the infrastructure side, but my understanding is that the initial setup was relatively straightforward. I had to put in a purchase order when I started this new role, but obtained access to the tool pretty quickly. I'm assuming that it is similar to other Microsoft products, in that there is a standard implementation, with the IT people having a fixed method of configuration, as with other Office products, which are rolled out.

When it comes to the setup, I have a couple of what are referred to as stencils, which are the things on the side that can be used for creating one's own series of diagrams or its components. I have a couple of these which I reuse. This is the only thing worth mentioning were one setting it up from scratch. But, many of the standard objects are pretty good and extensive. As such, the setup is not too difficult. Neither is it difficult to create one's own look and feel. So, it's pretty good.

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

I believe Visio to be priced pretty reasonably. Erwin Data Modeler may be a bit on the pricey side nowadays. When it was spun off from Computer Associates, they did so as a separate product and someone else bought it. I seem to recall at the time that the price either doubled or trebled, although I don't remember the reason for this. It was not clear to me what extra value was being offered for the price. Likely, the sole problem with erwin Data Modeler is that the price point is a tad on the high side. It can make selling to clients challenging and they are generally put off by the price.

Probably, it would have been better if erwin Data Modeler was the introduction to the environment whose creation is being attempted, meaning the DI suite and all the other parts involved in the governance, their glossary and all the bits and pieces. As the first taste is always free, it might've been better to have erwin Data Modeler at a lower price point. Once a person has obtained this product he would likely feel compelled to buy the other tools that work with it, rather than attempting to obtain something which does not. This would allow one to lower his price for the initial tool and then charge a bit more for those that nobody else has in their possession, such as one's involving data governance. This said, I'm not really involved in sales or marketing, so what I say should be taken with a grain of salt.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Visio is really good for high-level presentations but, when it comes to much more lower-level tasks, the best I've found so far is erwin Data Modeler and the DI, the governance suite that they've put out more recently. I've also worked with Oracle Data Modeler. One can't argue with the price on that one since it is free and presents no issues if money is lacking for other expenditures. If a person can do the drawings and present something to people then he can actually generate databases out of it, which is what one's end game is supposed to be anyway. It's not as pretty and it's a little bit more fiddly to do when things start to get complicated.

What other advice do I have?

When I first started, everything was on-premises, although I do not recall if it switched to Azure at a later point. I believe I used it in 365. I am pretty sure the later ones are part of Office 365 or appear as add-ons, as they are not included.

My advice is that a person first work out what he wishes to use the tool for, to see if it suits his needs. While it's great for presenting information to people, it is not as good in the end when it comes to actually trying to build a product out of it. Of primary importance is that the person come up with his own look and feel for the organization, with a focus on business oriented issues rather than those of a technical nature. This would entail coming up with one's own color scheme or design and then remaining consistent in this domain. It is helpful to present to business people in a format with which they are familiar.

As the product will pretty much do what one wishes, which is nice, the focus should remain more on the presenting side rather than on its use. Certain products pose a challenge when it comes to getting them to comply with one's wishes, but Visio is a bit easier in this regard.

As a presentation tool and a high-level design tool, I rate Visio at least a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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DeenNajimudeen
Assistant Director at Ernst & Young
Real User
Enables everyone to comment, contribute, and discuss the processes itself

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature for me is the collaboration point of view, where everybody has a single view, or source of truth, and everybody sees the same thing. Everyone can comment, contribute, and discuss the processes itself, which makes it easier to funnel down the most value adding comments and make the relevant changes to the processes. This leads to the next best iteration or version of your process."
  • "For me, given I've got a lot of experience working with BPMN and other process management tools, in terms of the interface, I think there's a little bit more that can be improved to match what the conventional BPMN offers. I've been constantly trying to give this feedback to Signavio, to let them know that it needs to be more coherent with the original BPMN version of the stencil."

What is our primary use case?

There are plenty of use cases. One of the key things that we're trying to understand is related to the fact that a lot of our teams are working in different methods. Especially being in a global layer of the company, we're trying to see how similar teams from different geographies are working, in order to find a synergy or find the best way to learn from each other. That's why we've taken on Signavio to do our business process mapping.

How has it helped my organization?

We work a lot with offshore delivery models and Signavio has helped us bring their processes and our processes in line so that we know exactly where the hand-offs are and who is responsible for what. In some cases, we have improved the process by shifting this responsibility.

That's one of the real examples that we've done. We've been able to look at the whole picture and understand the responsibilities of each team, whether you're in the US, UK, or India. Then we can understand how to change responsibilities in order to make better use of a process. It's been done on the go, which is really good for us and it's been really valuable.

I think the entire process has improved the life cycle by being in a unified hub. We are still in our infancy of using Signavio. Already, there's been a lot of improvement with people contributing or giving input towards these processes, which means it's working already. The next step for us is to use this as a launchpad to start really managing and improving our processes in real-time. I'm hoping to get there within the next year.

The solution's functionality gives everyone in our organization, from process experts to end users, what they need. There are a lot of times that we talk to the business owner, as we have a lot of client-facing teams. Signavio has enabled us to speak to them directly. In other cases, we wouldn't really talk to them about processes, whereas here, because they can access their process with a click of a link, it makes it easier to comment and say, "Actually, we don't work this way anymore." That sort of feedback helps us to immediately look at it, take in all of its implications, and then change the way we work, so we can still be an enabler rather than an obstruction to their work as well. In the end, their work is what brings revenue to our company too, and we just have to be there to do everything for them.

Signavio improves our employees' work-based functions. It just becomes a little clearer who does what. When you can see it on a piece of paper on the wall somewhere, in a very consistent format, as the process manager allows you too, it gives everybody the sense that they know what they are responsible for. It just clears what you have to do so you can focus.

The collaborative features definitely help create a process-centered mindset in our organization. Every process that we have, there are at least six people talking about it at the same time, which is much better than just one person trying to shove something down somebody else's throat. That's a really good thing. Collaboration works towards that.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature for me is the collaboration point of view, where everybody has a single view, or source of truth, and everybody sees the same thing. Everyone can comment, contribute, and discuss the processes itself, which makes it easier to funnel down the most value-adding comments and make the relevant changes to the processes. This leads to the next best iteration or version of your process.

The interface is really good. It's on your browser, so you don't have to install anything. It just runs off Internet Explorer or Chrome, so the interface is I think a big plus for me.

The solution's ease of use is very friendly so it has been adopted quite well. I thought a lot of people might complain that they need to do tutorials and things like that but they didn't. The people I've spoken to or worked with almost picked it up immediately, without having to do too much coaching. That's a really good thing about the interface and the front end.

What needs improvement?

For me, given I've got a lot of experience working with BPMN and other process management tools, in terms of the interface, I think there's a little bit more that can be improved to match what the conventional BPMN offers. I've been constantly trying to give this feedback to Signavio, to let them know that it needs to be more coherent with the original BPMN version of the stencil.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

So far, I haven't had any really bad experiences, so I couldn't really comment on the stability. So far it's been working okay for me.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I think it's a very scalable product. Obviously, if you work with Signavio hand-in-hand, they are very proactive in trying to help you with what you want. More than me being on their tail, they are after me asking what I want them to do for us. That is a good thing in terms of service, so I definitely think it's scalable. They want to understand our roadmap so that they can help as well.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have used them occasionally. Because we are using a very small component of Signavio, we haven't really had that many technical queries. When we do speak to them, though, we usually get an immediate response. They get back to us within 24 to 48 hours and then we get something sorted out.

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

We had Signavio in a different department. A German team was already using it. Through our vendor analysis to see what would be the best fit, we actually chose Signavio, and then we found out we already had an existing relationship. That's how we are changing how we work with them now.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We used good consultants. The initial bits, they've done to help us get up and running. In our second phase, where we're moving into a hybrid of cloud and on-premise, we're working hand-in-hand with them. They've been quite proactive. They always answer questions that we have, especially questions related to security and risk because that's a big factor for us.

What was our ROI?

We do not yet see an ROI. It is still too early for anything tangible. Intangibly, we are definitely working better across regions, with a lot more collaboration and transparency. There's a lot more understanding of the work we do, plus the work that other teams are doing. We have more empathy now.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Our shortlist included iServer, Bizagi, Trisotech, which is a Canadian company, and Signavio. They were our shortlisted front-runners. We went with Signavio because we had an existing relationship and obviously we were able to elicit a lot of feedback about how they were already working with them. Secondly, it was a good preference compared to the other two as well. Bizagi and Signavio were very close, but we eventually went with Signavio because of the interface and experience.

What other advice do I have?

There's a specific type of product that works for your company, and there could be a lot of factors that finally allow you to settle or choose one. For us, it was Signavio because of the fact that they were a good product and we already had an existing relationship. You must really think about adoption. That's the key thing, because for a product of this scale if the adoption is low, you're not going anywhere with it. The friendlier and easier it is to grasp, the better it is going to work for your wider company. That would be my advice.

I would give it an eight and a half out of ten. If you need a whole number, give it an eight, just to push them a little harder.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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