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ERwin is the Data Modeling Tool of Choice for NYPA

Published
  • July 01 1998, 1:00am EDT
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PLATFORMS: Windows 95, Windows NT 4.0.

BACKGROUND: The New York Power Authority is America's largest state-owned public power enterprise. The NYPA provides the lowest-cost electricity in New York State and is the only state-wide electricity supplier.

PROBLEM SOLVED: ERwin/ERX 3.5 excels in the ability to build and maintain data models for the development of our mission-critical systems, including nuclear, hydro- electric and transmission operations, as well as human resources, billing and financials. ERwin has proven to be of particular importance in our Year 2000 remediation efforts. We have used it to build data models of non-Y2K-compliant legacy systems. These models have been instrumental in analyzing the data complexity, aiding us in understanding complex business rules, the seriousness of the issues and in the decision-making process as to whether to rebuild or remediate. ERwin was also used to create a database to track the Authority's aggressive remediation effort. The application tracks remediation requirements and if required, the progress of remediation modifications for hardware and software for overt and embedded systems. NYPA uses Logic Works ModelMart model management system to coordinate all of the design activity and control updates across the various projects.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The product is one of our best, if not the best, performing application development tool. Logic Works ERwin allows the New York Power Authority to design all of our large Oracle databases, give developers a high-powered advantage in developing smaller MS Access applications and reverse engineer vendor- developed databases to examine integrity and better understand the capabilities of these systems.

STRENGTHS: ERwin's overwhelming strength is its ease of use. The learning curve is small and can be mastered in a few days. This includes becoming familiar with IDEF1X, the methodology employed by ERwin. The product has also provided NYPA with the ability to create a clear and effective medium in which business rules can be effectively documented and displayed. The forward engineering capabilities are a tremendous time saver and provide a significant contribution to the application development schedule.

WEAKNESSES: The Report Browser and its extension RPTwin (ERwin's report writer for creation of reports to support the data models) are not as quick and effective to use when customizing the canned data model reports. ERwin offers the ability to display and maintain both the logical physical and dimensional objects of the same model. However, it does not offer the ability to maintain both a highly normalized logical data model and a denormalized physical version in the same model. NYPA currently maintains two separate models and manually keeps both concurrent.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Our selection of ERwin was based on a comparative analysis of other products on the market which included ease of use, multiple database platform support, price and vendor support.

DELIVERABLES: ERwin is used to produce data models in black and white and color and reports on entities, attributes, columns, tables, definitions, data characteristics, etc. ERwin works well with all printer drivers and has overcome a prior inability to work with some plotter drivers.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Vendor support is the best we have seen for any application software tool vendor. Telephone support is excellent and electronic communication via e-mail is always answered promptly. The sales staff is very supportive.

DOCUMENTATION: Excellent hard copy documentation is provided with the product, and all manuals are provided in electronic format with the product.

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