Key components of the data integration framework (DIF) are the software tools used to create, deploy and maintain it. This month, we discuss tools used for data modeling. In subsequent months, we'll discuss tools used for data profiling, data preparation, ETL (extract, transform and load), data franchising, meta data interchange and data management.

The analogy most often used when discussing the need for a data modeling tool is that you would not build a house without a blueprint, so why would you build an application or database without one? Data models become your blueprints for developing your data warehouse (DW), data marts (DMs), business intelligence (BI) application or corporate performance management (CPM) system. You need these blueprints to give you a clear picture of the business users' requirements and processes. They also show business users that you understand what they asked for. You need these blueprints to design your databases, ETL processes and all the business logic (i.e., application code) used in your reporting and analytic applications. Without the blueprints, your application and database are destined to become the next lame duck legacy system that business users and project team members want to replace.

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