Choosing an Enterprise Data Modelling Tool

In my role as an Data Architect, I was recently asked to produce an enterprise data model to document the data flows and schemas for all of the data entites within our IT software infrastructure. It was clear that I was going to needed more features than Visio profides, which is after all just a diagramming tool.

I began investigating all of the modelling tools currently available in the market place to fine the most suitable tool for our medium sized organisation of around 2000 employees. The criteria was:

  • Ability to re-use the same objects in different views, e.g. current and future states
  • Ability to drilldown into views of varying levels of detail
  • Easily shared amongst colleagues
  • A flexible licensing model
  • Must be cost effective

Data Modelling Tools Assessment

Whilst the market leading tools such as CA ERWIN, Sybase PowerDesigner and IBM System Architect offer all the features I would need and a whole lot more, there was no way I was going to convince the decision makers that it would make sense financially to spend up to $25,000 USD for 4 or 5 licenses. The free tools such as ArchiMate and yEd were pretty good but didn’t really offer much more than Visio already does and were lacking in features such as import database and XML schemas. Sparx Enterprise Architect offered the best balance between functionality and cost so thats what I recommended using the following justifications;

Sparx Enterprise Architect provides a central, shared and joined-up representation of our information, analysis and system design at an affordable price.

Provides a rich data modelling environment to enable a consistent view of our information

  • Re-usable modelling framework allowing for views of varying detail for the same underlying objects
  • Drilldown from a high level view into the detail for a particular sub system

Provides an analysis environment to enable a connected view between business functional requirements and the required integration

  • Rich modelling for business, software and systems that reuses information and function definitions across diagrams
  • Business Analysts can use the UML capabilities and for defining and documenting requirements and connecting these with the information and functions on the designs
  • Can export models in PDF, Rich Text and HTML formats to enable sharing with the larger project team

Provides a functional environment to enable a connected view for our development and testing functions to ensure consistency across the project teams

  • Version Controlled Models to ensure the development and testing teams are working to the latest and correct design
  • Reverse engineering tools for XML, Databases and Code to help us visualise our exisiting systems and information
  • Full traceability from requirements to deployment

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