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ERwin Looks to the Future of Data Modeling

By   /  June 9, 2016  /  No Comments

jz_erwinupd_060616The recently completed acquisition of Data Modeling industry leader ERwin from CA Technologies by private equity firm Parallax Capital Partners comes a couple of years after the Department of Justice effectively ended plans by Embarcadero Technologies to do the same. Since then, the market has gone through further transitions, with IDERA’s acquisition of Embarcadero last fall being a particularly notable one.

During that timeframe, the ERwin team inside CA continued to drive the product forward, including the release of ERwin r9.6 last March. Among its features and enhancements were a new native Report Designer, high-performance Mart Server, Big Data Hadoop connectivity, the ability to efficiently work with larger models, and multi-thread performance improvements. Also part of this picture is the ERwin Web Portal Data Governance edition, which added features such as business glossary capabilities to govern, standardize, and reuse an existing business vocabulary across a data/information architecture and annotation for non-ERwin modeling sources. In fact, the end of the planned Embarcadero acquisition was a strong factor in ERwin accelerating work on its Data Governance efforts.

This period also saw ERwin’s technology named “Best Data Modeling Solution” in the Database Trends and Applications (DBTA) magazine Readers’ Choice Awards for the second straight year, and the designation of ERwin Data Modeler as one of DBTA’s Trend-Setting Products for 2016.

Back in the Saddle

For all its achievements, though, the ERwin team was running very lean within CA, as its focus on the technology of Data Management wasn’t strongly aligned with other solutions in CA’s diverse portfolio, which run the gamut from DevOps to security to systems management. The Parallax acquisition changes the game in a big way for ERwin, says Danny Sandwell, product marketing manager, ERwin Modeling. A couple of years ago, he recalls, it looked like ERwin would be swallowed up by its competitor Embarcadero.  Now, ERwin has been,

“Acquired by a company that understands the value of data to the business, a company that wants to be that universal provider to manage data for the business and make that data trusted by the business.”

The transition to the Parallax portfolio brings onboard former CA ERwin sales veteran Adam Famularo as CEO of ERwin. Famularo relates that he contacted Parallax operating partner James McGarry – also a CA veteran and now ERwin COO – when he heard that the Embarcadero deal wasn’t going to happen. Famularo says he did so because he saw an opportunity to purchase CA’s ERwin assets and combine these with investments in other vendors’ technologies “to build a Big Data software company where we can actually unlock a lot of potential for customers.”

The Parallax investment, Famularo says, opens the door for huge investments in ERwin, its people, systems and IT – investments that “the ERwin business hasn’t seen in years.” They’ll pave the way for further expanding ERwin beyond its roots as a traditional relational database modeling solution to encompass more features related to modeling relational databases in the Cloud, as well as to covering unstructured Big Data. That extends efforts that are already part of its makeup, where a Cloud database is just another point to pull data from which to create models. For instance, today ERwin Data Modeler for Microsoft SQL Azure can be used to visualize and manage data from multiple sources across the organization, whether on-premise or in the Cloud.

The Cloud and Big Data

Strong Data Modeling tools make it easier for companies to get value out of the investments they’re making in Cloud hosting from day one. With the capabilities that are available with the right tools, organizations can decide which data to move to the Cloud, and once that data is migrated there, they can have a centralized, unified, and comprehensive view of all data sources, whether they live on-premise or in the Cloud. “As organizations make decisions to take certain applications and the databases that support them and put them in a Cloud infrastructure, there’s risk involved in that,” Sandwell says, and that’s something they need to get their arms around.

Management processes must be transparent and accountability must be in place, so that users can trust the data. According to Sandwell:

“Trust drives data usage. Beyond being a design and deployment tool we are about the ability to visualize data structures, and through that visibility to reduce complexity, understand the business and technical perspectives, and bring those things together so that people are aware of what data is available to them and how to use it to their greatest strategic advantage.”

Famularo points out that ERwin has a great opportunity to take its expertise as a leader in relational database modeling forward to align to a new age of Big Data – but it won’t forget what made it an industry leader in the first place. Traditional databases, he says, aren’t going away; not everyone is going to move to NoSQL for everything. And the way that Data Modeling is done today for relational environments won’t inherently change as much as it will see the addition of layers to support Data Modeling for unstructured or structured on-the-go environments.

Hybrid data environments are the future, Sandwell posits. Enterprises need to be smart about how their users will be able to efficiently and quickly discover data from multiple sources, multiple times as their data environments grow and encompass more structured and unstructured sources. He notes that Big Data brings into the source mix a whole new realm of data that reaches far beyond the historical, pragmatic data that companies are used to dealing with – social media customer sentiment, for instance – and that companies should be able to strategically leverage.

“Our role is, as always, to take the technology and as much as possible make it available to the business from the end user perspective, as well as making things work more efficiently for IT for agility, for returns on opportunity and to squeeze out costs.”

In essence, it is critical to make Big Data usable, understandable, and trusted by the business, and easy to work with by IT denizens. There’s more to be completed when it comes to Big Data Modeling, he says, “but we are all talking about the need to model Big Data in order to get confidence around that.”

Next Steps for ERwin

Look by the end of this calendar year for ERwin to develop relationships with other Cloud providers in addition to the one it has with Microsoft Azure, Famularo says. “We have the capabilities today to productize for everything from the Amazon Cloud to Hadoop in the next release,” he says.

The near future for ERwin also includes forming deeper partnerships with complementary tools vendors, he says, as well as strategic acquisitions of a few companies over the next 12 to 18 months. While Famularo can’t name names, he says that they all will be companies grounded in the Data Management space, from Data Modeling to Data Governance.

“We are going to stay core to being a data company,” Famularo says, noting that ERwin users are “excited to see that ERwin is once again able to invest in technology. A lot of people felt that the technology was held back over the years. Now we can make ERwin as big as we want it to be, and we’re all excited about that.”

About the author

Jennifer Zaino is a New York-based freelance writer specializing in business and technology journalism. She has been an executive editor at leading technology publications, including InformationWeek, where she spearheaded an award-winning news section, and Network Computing, where she helped develop online content strategies including review exclusives and analyst reports. Her freelance credentials include being a regular contributor of original content to The Semantic Web Blog; acting as a contributing writer to RFID Journal; and serving as executive editor at the Smart Architect Smart Enterprise Exchange group. Her work also has appeared in publications and on web sites including EdTech (K-12 and Higher Ed), Ingram Micro Channel Advisor, The CMO Site, and Federal Computer Week.

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