REVIEWER: Tom Finneran, principal consultant for CIBER Inc.

BACKGROUND: CIBER, Inc. is a leading international e-business integrator, providing IT services for Internet strategy and development, complete life cycle system integration, with superior value-priced services for both private and government sector clients. CIBER's services are offered across all technology platforms, operating systems and infrastructures.

PLATFORMS: System Architect runs on Microsoft Windows NT and 2000.

PROBLEM SOLVED: A large telecom company was looking to enhance its enterprise architecture model to implement as an organizational standard. The goal was to build a high-level conceptual business process and data model that would help ensure IT projects align with the company's overall enterprise model. The first step was to develop the data and event process models. From these, a component architecture based on UML class models was developed. As part of the project, the need for a meta data repository to facilitate information management emerged. CIBER was the lead contractor in this effort.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: System Architect (SA) from Popkin Software is a comprehensive and powerful modeling solution designed to provide all the tools necessary for development of successful enterprise systems. System Architect is the only tool that integrates, in one multi-user product, all major areas of modeling, including business process modeling, object-oriented and component modeling with UML, relational data modeling and structured analysis and design. Developers worldwide use System Architect to develop a blueprint for an organization's information infrastructure, to measure the progress of its IT investments and to ensure established business goals are being supported. System Architect's extensible repository improves team collaboration and centralizes information management and data reuse.

STRENGTHS: System Architect offered the best combination of features to enable CIBER to develop the client's component-based enterprise architecture. System Architect provides a wide range of flexibility, supporting multiple methodologies and the creation of custom attributes and reports. Its publishing features enabled us to communicate with the many people involved in the development of the architecture and its use throughout the organization. System Architect offered these key features: multi-user repository for creating, storing, reviewing and sharing information about relationships, events and objects; multiple methodology support that integrates UML, system engineering and other standards into a single model; extensibility, or ability to customize business rules to the client's needs and transparently merge custom attributes into the standard repository; Web and Office-Suite reporting; and Zachman framework support, from high-level conceptual models to logical, object or data models.

WEAKNESSES: System Architect's Web publishing feature made it easy for users to review the progress of the meta data and models. However, Web publishing formatting options were limited and report formats were inconsistent with CIBER's format. Popkin was made aware of this and is enhancing this feature in an upcoming release. In addition, code generation was not considered to be flexible. However, an upcoming XML export feature will provide better support for workflow between SA and code- development environments.

SELECTION CRITERIA: CIBER and its client required an enterprise architecture and modeling tool with the ability to easily customize the model to the client's needs. The tool had to be flexible enough to support a wide range of deliverables, from the conceptual level through the logical, object, process or data modeling level down to the development level. The tool had to support CIBER's proprietary methodology and the primary development language, UML.

DELIVERABLES: System Architect provided flexible, extensive support for deliverables. Custom reports could be easily created and incorporated into the reporting feature. All reports were available in Microsoft Word to facilitate approvals. In addition, System Architect offered an integrated Web publishing feature that made it easy for the client to access and review the component architecture model and meta data repository.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Popkin offered solid customer support for CIBER. As a long-time System Architect user, CIBER found the Popkin service team helpful for complex issues during the project. Experts were made available as needed to address issues raised by CIBER. Updates were communicated regularly to keep the CIBER team aware of new features and modifications.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation was available, both in print and online, with access to an extensive online knowledge base to find answers to questions.

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