The Resurgence of Data Modeling: Part I - InformationWeek

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Commentary
6/4/2009
10:55 AM
Rajan Chandras
Rajan Chandras
Commentary
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The Resurgence of Data Modeling: Part I

CA, Embarcadero and Sybase have all recently released significant upgrades of their data modeling tools. The good news is that all three products surpass previous limitations and step up to the challenges of enterprise architecture and information governance. The question is: which tool works best for you?

CA, Embarcadero and Sybase have all recently released significant upgrades of their data modeling tools. The good news is that all three products surpass previous limitations and step up to the challenges of enterprise architecture and information governance. For IT shops, the question is: which tool works best for you?

Data modeling is a niche discipline and a small software market with consistent if unspectacular growth -- Forrester Research puts the current market (including sales and support) at about $165 million, growing to about $290 million over the next four years. But what this market lacks in terms of size it more than makes up in terms of business impact; data modeling is at the heart of every custom application development, data integration and data warehousing effort.In a recent study, Forrester identifies six data modeling tools that it finds noteworthy. In alphabetical order, these are:

  • CA ERwin (formerly AllFusion ERwin)
  • Embarcadero Technologies' ER/Studio
  • IBM InfoSphere Data Architect (formerly Rational Data Architect)
  • Microsoft Visual Studio (which includes Entity Data Model Designer)
  • Quest Software Toad Data Modeler and
  • Sybase PowerDesigner.

But the options don't stop there: for example, there's the erstwhile popular Popkin System Architect (now part of the IBM Telelogic line of products, overshadowed by IBM InfoSphere Data Architect); two products from Oracle: Oracle Designer (long on existence but short on adoption) and the forthcoming Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeling; Sparx Enterprise Architect (a dark horse that seems to be picking up speed); FabForce DBDesigner (for open source fans) and, to a very limited extent, Microsoft Visio (useful for beginners).

Historically, data modeling tools have evolved in two ways. Tools such as CA ERwin -- a 20-year stalwart and arguably the most popular data modeling tool of all time -- have evolved from Computer Aided Software Engineering (CASE) concepts and have focused primarily on data modeling, whereas tools like Sybase PowerDesigner and Sparx EA offer data modeling capabilities as part of a wider information modeling/design or Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) toolset, which might include process modeling, object modeling, development/testing etc.

The question is, how does this impact you, and how do you choose the best data modeling tool for your organization? I'll provide some guidance in my next post.CA, Embarcadero and Sybase have all recently released significant upgrades of their data modeling tools. The good news is that all three products surpass previous limitations and step up to the challenges of enterprise architecture and information governance. The question is: which tool works best for you?

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