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PowerDesigner: A Business Modeling Tool

Published
  • September 01 2005, 1:00am EDT

Sybase PowerDesigner


REVIEWER: Kevan Shelden, business architect for Nielsen Media Research Inc.

BACKGROUND: Nielsen Media Research Inc. (NMR) is the world-famous TV ratings company. Active in more than 40 countries, it offers TV and radio audience measurement, print readership and custom media research services. In the U.S., NMR provides TV audience estimates for broadcast and cable networks, TV stations, national syndicators, regional cable TV systems, satellite providers, advertisers and advertising agencies.

PLATFORM: Microsoft Windows 2000/2003/XP.

PROBLEM SOLVED: NMR had no models of our systems of any type, leaving them undocumented and requiring extensive repetitive archaeology for all modifications. There was no data management because there was no complete picture of where, when and how data migrated across systems. There were instances of poor data quality due to redundant data items having conflicting values. Processes were repeated multiple times because everything was performed in silos. NMR's environment was like that of many companies that develop systems in silos: scant, incomplete and conflicting documentation; archaeology performed repetitively on the same areas; virtually no system integration; and reliance on a few key individuals' personal knowledge.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We maintain data, process and UML models with PowerDesigner. Using PowerDesigner's object reuse capability, we have a multitier architecture in which our enterprise logical data model is linked to individual system logical data models that are, in turn, linked to physical data models. This allows us to perform enterprise-wide impact analysis that negates our having to do repetitive archaeology to provide answers for proposed or actual modifications. We use the same multitier structure for process models, which are then linked to our data models. UML diagrams, Use Case and Activity, in particular, are maintained in PowerDesigner, and we are beginning to link those to our process and data models.

STRENGTHS: Meta data maintained across models allows complete multisystem impact analysis and reporting. This gives the ability to tailor impact reporting to the audience. Using object shortcuts and replication, there are no conflicting properties for the same object. Comparison functionality allows multiple individuals to work on the same model simultaneously and gives full user control of versioning models. There is a complete suite of model types: process, data, O-O, requirements, replication and free. Object property customization and extension is flexible and easy to use. PowerDesigner is more than just a modeling tool; it supports true business architecture.

WEAKNESSES: Reports GUI interface could be improved. At times, it is difficult to determine how to do something, and the documentation in this area is not always clear.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Both data and process modeling teams performed independent evaluations on multiple tools. In each case, PowerDesigner clearly rated better than its competitors. The data modeling evaluation rated PowerDesigner, ERWin and ERStudio in 16 categories. PowerDesigner rated equal or better in all categories. The process modeling evaluation rated PowerDesigner, CorporateModeler, IBM XDE, System Architect, and ProForma in 12 categories. PowerDesigner rated equal or above in all process categories as well.

DELIVERABLES: The conceptual and logical data models, process models object-oriented models (UML diagrams) and free models all include diagrams, objects and their properties and meta data about the models. Meta data across models is also produced. This allows us to perform impact analysis across all systems.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Vendor support is excellent. Sybase works closely with us improve the product and to incorporate our desired functionality. Each release includes major new functionality and increases to existing  functionality. Vendor commitment to the product is strong, and they are committed to expanding the product and aligning it to the Zachman framework, making it the choice for business architecture. In the last release, the vendor solicited information from us and other customers to ensure that the new graphical object mapping functionality included everything we need.

DOCUMENTATION: Between the tutorials provided and the online documentation, a new user could use the tool and become proficient.


PowerDesigner
Sybase
One Sybase Drive
Dublin, CA 94568
925-236-5000
www.sybase.com


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