REVIEWER: Marcie Barkin Goodwin, CEO, Axis Software Designs.

BACKGROUND: Axis Software Designs specializes in data modeling services and education. We offer consulting services to assess and develop modeling standards and procedures, enabling our clients to establish an efficient modeling infrastructure based on reusability and nonredundancy. The company has more than 15 years experience in the marketplace, providing consulting to Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies, specializing in data and process modeling environments, their infrastructures and the fostering of communication to ensure successful projects.

PLATFORMS: Axis Software runs CA ERwin Data Modeler on the Windows XP platform. We support a number of database platforms for our customers, typically SQL Server, Oracle, Teradata and DB2.

PROBLEM SOLVED: In working with Fortune 1000 companies worldwide to solve their data management challenges, we place a strong focus on best practices and templates around data modeling. We have built a data modeling set of standards and procedures based on a strategy of reuse and nonredundancy. CA ERwin r8 is key in helping us provide a solution so that our customers have the skills and best practices to implement a successful data management initiative. As a result, our customers have been able to achieve better data quality through reusable, consistent data structures and definitions, time and cost savings from reuse, and increased communication across the organization around key data definitions (metadata).

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We make extensive use of the features around enterprise standards and reuse. CA ERwin’s model templates allow us to increase reuse and standardization, and they save a great deal of development time by using standard naming conventions, domains and even formatting options. Standards, procedures and best practices are critical to our practice, and we rely heavily on these features. The new visualization and reporting features in CA ERwin r8 have gone a long way in helping us increase communication between various stakeholders across the organization, especially business users. We’ve found that communication is an important aspect to a project’s success, and we spend a great deal of time on the presentation layer of our models and reporting. 

STRENGTHS: A key strength of CA ERwin Data Modeler is its ability to integrate into any environment as it supports the majority of database platforms. In addition, the use of User Defined Properties, logical and physical domains, naming and datatype standards files provide a way in which we can easily manage and maintain standards. With standardization, we can trust the data structures and reuse them with confidence.

WEAKNESSES: While CA ERwin Data Modeler is very easy to use with standard wizards and templates for the basic user, I’d like to see more templates provided for advanced use cases. I can create my own templates and customizations, but it would be a timesaver to have more examples of advanced customization options.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We initially chose CA ERwin Data Modeler as our corporate standard because we felt that it was the best of breed in modeling tools, specifically because we work in enterprise environments and the sharing of model objects is key to our modeling strategy. But we quickly realized that CA ERwin was also the number-one customer requested tool for data management implementations. Over the years, we’ve investigated other solutions, but none has matched CA ERwin in its ability to integrate into our customer’s environments or its ease of use. And, as we mentioned, standards are a major part of our business, so the ability to create reusable standards in a tool was key to our selection criteria.

DELIVERABLES: We rely on CA ERwin to create the logical and physical data models and model templates for our customer implementations. Axis Software Designs has also created DM SOS! (Data Modeling Set of Standards) around the CA ERwin solution, as the CA ERwin tools are an integral part of our practice.

VENDOR SUPPORT: I’ve found the CA Technologies team to be personable, professional and knowledgeable – those qualities alone would be sufficient to a good working experience, but they’re also great to work with.

DOCUMENTATION: The product documentation is generally very straightforward and easy to read. What I like most, is the online community that I’ve come to rely on to get my questions answered. There’s also a great video library with detailed “how-to’s” on various features.

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