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PowerDesigner 15: Expanding Data Modeling into Your Enterprise

Provide open, cross-platform solutions that securely deliver information anytime, anywhere

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In today's business world change is a constant and companies need to ensure that they keep up with that change. Whether the change is an opportunistic response to new conditions - requirements, regulations, market conditions, a merger/acquisition - or a major transformation, companies need the power to succeed and that power is knowledge.

The need for knowledge is expanding what companies require from their data. Not only is there a need to analyze it and clearly understand the metadata (data about data), companies now need to create an enterprise-wide view of their organization through clear, concise, and accurate metadata synergy from all three views of the organization: business, information, and technology.

Starting with traditional Data Modeling, PowerDesigner v15 continues to innovate. In our Physical Data Modeling (PDM), continuous improvements are made to ensure near 100% coverage of all modern RDBMs and warehouse databases are met, with complete round-trip engineering capabilities for over 60 vendor/versions of relational database systems and real multi-level database design. PowerDesigner is the most open and comprehensive physical modeling environment around.

Now that you have created, gathered, and analyzed your data and metadata, how do you make it work for you? Simple, you use them in your enterprise information architecture. Enterprise Information Architecture (EIA) identifies the set of requirements, principles, and models needed to flexibly share and exchange information.[1] EIA starts with the high-level business definitions and descriptions that have been agreed upon and shared cross-departmentally, thus setting standards for data throughout the organization. Organizations need to leverage information assets in ways that support their business strategies, enabling enterprise-wide views in order to facilitate alignment and agility.

Alignment, agility, and architecture are the goals in an enterprise information architecture. The most valuable asset in an EIA is information. The foundation to building an enterprise information architecture is through metadata management, and the way to manage metadata is through models. Models provide abstraction to simplify complexity, increase understanding through visual representations, and provide governance to increase consistency and reusability throughout the organization. As the need to align business and IT increases, the need for more levels of abstraction increases. A greater need to establish standard practices, procedures, and tooling results from the fundamental shift from workgroup opportunistic physical data modeling into departmental and enterprise-wide strategic information engineering.[2]

Sybase® PowerDesigner® 15 has uniquely combined several data modeling techniques (traditional conceptual, logical, and physical modeling with unique business intelligence and data movement modeling) to bring business analysis together with formal database design solutions.

PowerDesigner v15's new Logical Data Model (LDM) module provides a new level of abstraction between the Conceptual and Physical Data Models. LDMs move from the abstract to the more complex. They tend to be closer to the development of an application, centered on a project or system, containing context-specific attributes and other noncore elements and, as a result, cannot be shared generically across the enterprise. LDMs also support foreign keys, indexes, and views that are not available at the conceptual level. However, they are DBMS-independent and therefore can be used to generate for any physical deployment environment. LDMs support all the standard data notations, including Barker, and can generate (and be generated from) CDMs and PDMs (see Figure 1).

The Barker notation will be familiar to users of Oracle's "CASE" modeling tools. The Barker notation is a technique that creates models that are better for business, making it a desirable method to use in a requirement analysis project. It results in conceptual and logical models that are more natural to understand when used to communicate with business users and business analysts.

An important feature is the tracking of data through PowerDesigner's Information Liquidity Models (ILM). ILMs are models that can be used to show the movement of data, including the design of ETL and the tracking of data quality issues through the system. This is a powerful tool for designers, developers, and operations staff in the management of ETL jobs; it allows for quick and easy tracking of where and what is involved in a specific job or set of jobs. Similarly it allows a data quality analyst the opportunity to track individual data quality issues back to their source. New wizards and capabilities were added to the Data Movement Model (DMM) tying physical data structures to ETL, EII, and replication technologies. These new ETL wizards have been added to help you create a data transformation from scratch or from an existing PDM-PDM mapping (see Figure 2). In addition, many small enhancements have been made to the ETL modeling interface.

PowerDesigner v15's impact analysis reporting and impact analysis diagrams allow companies to gain "business agility." Business agility is defined as the ability to quickly and accurately react to change. Using our impact analysis tools business analysts have the forward vision to see if a change occurs what the time, cost and risk of that change would be and if it is in line with their business strategies.

In addition to the traditional interface, which provides a temporary view of the analysis, you can now generate and save impact analysis models, which provide a graphical view of the impact and lineage hierarchies. These models can be saved to provide a snapshot of a moment in the development process, can be compared to each other to analyze changes over time, and used as the basis to generate sophisticated reports. In addition to the new model, the impact analysis engine has been completely rebuilt to provide support for multiple sets of analysis rules. Standard rule sets (conceptual, data, delete, and global) are provided, and you can create your own. Impact analysis eases implementation of change and increases accuracy of the measurement of time, cost, and risk. It helps maximize the resources available to impact the business goals (see Figure 3).

The enterprise class metadata repository provides full cross-model impact analysis, ensuring the design team the most accurate knowledge of not just what is affected within a given database implementation, but how that is affecting data movement, replication, federation, and also how that is affected by the conceptual and requirements aligned to it. The repository also provides full role-based security for metadata management and provides, through the Link & Sync capabilities (discussed later on), full design-time change management to streamline change implementation throughout the entire information management infrastructure.

One of the most interesting dimensions of enterprise information architecture is the alignment of data and process. To that end, PowerDesigner v15 continues to develop top-of-the-line business process modeling that is fully integrated into the complete enterprise information architecture stack. Through PowerDesigner's Business Process Model (BPM), business analysts and managers are able to represent processes of an enterprise so that the current state may be analyzed and improved in the future. This is performed to improve process efficiency and quality. The new capability to import Visio diagrams into a BPM (and an EAM) enables you to retrieve work performed by business analysts and enrich them with PowerDesigner's sophisticated metadata. The following types of diagram can be imported:

  • Audit Diagram to Business Process Diagram (Analysis)
  • Basic Flow Chart to Business Process Diagram (Analysis)
  • Cross Functional Flowchart to Business Process Diagram (Analysis)
  • Data Flow Diagram to Data Flow Diagram
  • Event Driven Process Chain Diagram to Business Process Diagram (BPMN)
  • ITIL Diagram to Business Process Diagram (Analysis)
  • Work Flow Diagram to Data Flow Diagram
  • Flowchart/SDL Diagram to Business Process Diagram (Analysis)

PowerDesigner for Enterprise Information Architecture removes the Information silos, allowing users from all groups across the enterprise to establish a single version of the "truth." It provides consistent information, when and where it is needed. It helps improve decision making by enforcing governance and accountability for key information assets in support of compliance, and it enables information to be shared and exchanged with the appropriate safeguards.

However, for companies to achieve business agility and to have a complete view of their organization, companies need to take it a step further and align information with the rest of the enterprise architecture. Enterprise architects need to be able to assure their business stakeholders that they have provided sufficient information for effective decision making. They need a clear, concise, and accurate enterprise view of their business, information, and technology environments. In order to have "true" enterprise architecture, you need model and metadata alignment throughout your Enterprise; this is achieved through high-level architecture views.

PowerDesigner's Enterprise Architecture Models (EAM) help to analyze and document the architecture of your organization.

Enterprise architecture models are commonly used to document the current state (as-is) of systems and to plan future states (to-be). Such an analysis can be required for the following reasons:

  • Documentation - as a part of good corporate governance
  • Compliance - where you are required to document your system's compliance with standards or regulations
  • Change management - in the following kinds of situations:
    -Rationalization - where cost savings and efficiencies are sought
    -A change in technology - where your system will be upgraded
    -An acquisition or merger - where two disparate systems must be made to work together

The PowerDesigner EAM provides seven types of EA diagrams that allow you to model your business processes and technology infrastructure and to show the relationships between them. The diagrams in the EAM are divided into three layers as follows:

1. Business Layer:

  • Organization Chart - represents the structure of an organization in a graphical tree format
  • Business Communication Diagram - can be used to analyze and display the relationships, flows, and other connections between business elements.
  • Process Map - can be used to identify the business architecture independent of people and organization units and to describe the business functions and classify the processes.
  • City Planning Diagram - allows you to focus on the big picture of your enterprise architecture.

2. Application Layer:

  • Application Architecture Diagram - shows a high-level view of the application architecture and allows you to identify applications, sub-applications, components, databases, services, etc., and their interactions.
  • Service-Oriented Diagram - allows you to associate applications and other objects in the application layer with business services and other objects in the business layer to assist with SOA design.

3. Technology Layer:

  • Technology Infrastructure Diagram - displays a high-level picture of the physical architecture deployed in the enterprise.

The new capability to import Visio diagrams into an EAM (and a BPM) enables you to retrieve work performed by business analysts and enrich them with PowerDesigner's sophisticated metadata.

What really separates PowerDesigner from any other modeling and metadata management solution is PowerDesigner's Link & Sync technology (see Figure 4). This unique capability built into PowerDesigner integrates models together and automates the dependency capture between all horizontal layers and all vertical architecture domains, creating an alignment between your IT requirements and your business goals. PowerDesigner 15 automatically and intuitively captures the intersections between all architectural layers and perspectives of the Enterprise, removing the Information silos, enabling rapid response to technological, regulatory, and competitive changes.

From business requirements you can link to any level of data modeling abstraction. It allows you to transition easily from conceptual, logical, and physical models and back again in bi-directional synchronizations. This, together with XML and data movement modeling, which documents all aspects of the enterprise information architecture, enables users to simply go about their day-to-day work on their own perspective. PowerDesigner automates the tracking of dependency information needed to create simple-looking impact analysis reports based on complex structures. PowerDesigner allows users from all groups to clearly visualize and effectively implement fast, reliable, and predictable change.

PowerDesigner v15 helps to expand from Data Modeling to an Enterprise Architecture. Using PowerDesigner v15 you can achieve metadata management and an enterprise architecture that provide open, cross-platform solutions that securely deliver information anytime, anywhere, and enable you to create an information edge.


1. Gartner: Minding Your Own Business: Architecting the Information Assets by Betsy Burton

2. Sybase Whitepaper: From Data Modeling to Enterprise Information Architecture by David Dichmann

More Stories By Courtney E. Driscoll

Courtney Driscoll is a Product Manager at Sybase, an SAP Company. Courtney manages PowerDesigner,the industry-leading modeling and metadata management solution for data architecture, information architecture and enterprise architecture. She has over 10 years of experience in the industry and has been working at Sybase since 2000.

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