REVIEWER: Rod Grey, data modeler/data architect for FHLBank Topeka.

 

BACKGROUND: FHLBank Topeka is one of 12 federal home loan banks providing a variety of financial services to members, other banks and business associates.

 

PLATFORMS: Microsoft SQL Server 2005 database management system (DBMS) platform.

 

PROBLEM SOLVED: We initiated an ongoing data management program (DMP) about a year ago following the deployment of two data marts. We are actively involved in building an enterprise data warehouse and data marts. Embarcadero’s ER/Studio Enterprise Edition is my primary tool for the design, creation and management of our semantic, logical and physical data models. I have also become very interested in the creation and application of business metadata to our data management program initiatives. The new ER/Studio Enterprise Portal interests me as an option for making visible and promoting the use of business metadata. Facilitating the communication of data-centric information to our business and technical communities is a primary challenge for the DMP team.

 

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The ER/Studio Enterprise Portal provides a range of functionality enabling self-service exploration of conceptual, logical and physical models created in ER/Studio and shared via the ER/Studio Repository. The home page presents an integrated set of search, browse and reporting capabilities that are intuitive and support drill-down, bidirectional navigation based upon active links. By integrating with the ER/Repository, the ER/Studio Enterprise Portal provides seamless search, access and side-by-side comparison of models that are otherwise maintained in separate files. A user can explore the range of technical and business metadata shared between multiple data models. I expect to leverage the ER/Studio Enterprise Portal support for viewing, printing and emailing diagrams to promote discussion and concurrence around semantic and conceptual models that were difficult to publicize. The custom report builder has a nice range of grouping, filtering and formatting options. Users can save reports in HTML, PDF or Excel formats. The ER/Studio Enterprise Portal provides a set of report templates and integrates with our email system.

 

STRENGTHS: The easy-to-use search and drill-down capabilities are the strongest features of the ER/Studio Enterprise Portal. Whether for general exploration or a narrow focus, the refinement of search criteria is easy to figure out. The drill-down is well designed and responsive, presenting results in a new window when appropriate and providing bidirectional navigation between result sets that facilitate discovery and exploration. Also, the ER/Studio Enterprise Portal support for the graphical presentation of data model diagrams is key to sharing visual concepts for collaboration on business domains and semantics. ER/Studio Enterprise Portal’s optimized integration with ER/Studio Repository raises the bar for cross-domain analysis, reporting and communication of data asset characteristics.

 

WEAKNESSES: The ER/Studio Enterprise Portal only works with models managed in ER/Studio Repository. As such, it is not a complete metadata reporting application. Report layouts are somewhat constrained due to the trade-offs involved in providing a simple interface for a variety of interested parties. This is noticeable in the sizing of windows or columns.

 

SELECTION CRITERIA: Search results that we are looking for and having an intuitive interface are key requirements when evaluating new reporting tools. The ER/Studio Enterprise Portal delivers on both. The custom report process is well designed for the business user; it provides a solid set of grouping, filtering and constraint options and the ability to drag-and-drop objects into report parameter controls. For the criteria most difficult to satisfy - data model diagram viewing and sharing - the ER/Studio Enterprise Portal is up to the task.

 

DELIVERABLES: The most important output of the ER/Studio Enterprise Portal is the live links that integrate multiple navigation paths into our business and technical models, facilitating cross-model exploration and analysis. The ER/Studio Enterprise Portal reporting capabilities are a significant improvement over the previous HTML and RTF report formats embedded in ER/Studio. The ability to forward reports or diagrams via email from within the application complements the ER/Studio Enterprise Portal’s search and reporting capabilities.

 

VENDOR SUPPORT: Embarcadero staff is always responsive to inquiries regarding licensing, installation and other technical questions. They were also supportive and proactive in providing access to the beta version.

 

DOCUMENTATION: I found the product functionality to be very intuitive and felt no need to consult a user manual in that regard. Installation documents are adequate.

 

ER/Studio Enterprise Portal

Embarcadero Technologies, Inc.

100 California Street, 12th Floor

San Francisco, CA 94111

(415) 834-3131

www.embarcadero.com

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