Erwin’s End Game: Holistic Data Management

By   /  February 23, 2017  /  No Comments

Data Management vendor erwin Inc. has been following through on the plans it discussed with DATAVERSITY® last year, shortly after its acquisition from CA Technologies by private equity firm Parallax Capital Partners. Its efforts to bring together Data Modeling, Business Process Management, and Enterprise Architecture domains to support the data-driven enterprise have been in evidence with its acquisitions in the last few months of Corso and Casewise. The best-in-class, holistic Data Management software company that erwin aims to be, says CEO Adam Famularo, requires multiple components, leading erwin to embark on “a real acquisition strategy to go with its development strategy.”

At the time, company executives laid out a vision for serving as a key partner to help businesses unlock the value of all their data. Over the last few months its progress toward that goal has included spending millions to acquire technology that’s a fit with its plans, building tighter relationships with customers, and investing heavily in driving product development forward. In fact, it’s more than doubled the amount of money invested in software development.

Every large enterprise needs a foundational holistic Data Management platform, Famularo says:

“It must discover its data, make sure it has quality data, that there is an architecture that supports its data, that it can model the results it is trying to achieve and that it has a governance model to underpin it all,” he says. “That is a true Data Management platform.”

Erwin’s technology, of course, represents the Data Modeling component; Corso’s Agile EA lends itself to an overarching data foundation platform; and, Casewise to BPM in addition to EA. “We have a couple more holes to fill through acquisition or our product development cycle,” such as Data Quality and Data Governance, “And that’s where our team is spending a lot of time and energy now,” he says.

The company has talked a lot in the past about building a Big Data software company, but today the message is broader, focusing on building a company that provides the foundation for digital business transformation.  “Big Data is one aspect of it, but it’s also IoT, self-service apps, citizen-service apps. There are so many things today that are data-driven and data-constricted,” says Mariann McDonagh, Chief Marketing Officer. “We want to knock the cover off that ball.” With the erwin foundation, she says, “the sky is the limit in terms of building data-driven applications that either helps you make better decisions, serve constituents better, be more competitive, and unlock the value in your data.”

Stepping Through erwin’s Strategy

Over the last few months, in combination with building a fully functional agile development organization, the company has focused on leveraging the platform upon which Corso built its Enterprise Architecture solution as the data foundation for all of erwin, Famularo explains. Importantly, Corso delivers to erwin a SaaS-based modern technology framework and infrastructure capabilities, opening the door to customers being able to deploy all of erwin technology in Cloud or Hybrid Architectures, in addition to traditional on-premise mode. Says McDonagh, “the Cloud model piece is a powerful competitive advantage as the market shifts to different buying patterns.” erwin CloudCore, an integrated Cloud bundle consisting of both erwin Data Modeler and Corso Agile EA, was announced in conjunction with the acquisition.

Speaking of the Cloud, Erwin has picked up a critical relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud Computing services. “We’re building our new-age platform on AWS,” says Famularo. It will continue working with Microsoft Azure from a data modeling standpoint, but the platform it is building for the future is going to be on AWS, he says.

If you want to know the next component that it’s built for delivery in the very near future, the answer is erwin Data Modeler 9.7, set to launch the week of January 23. The big ask from large enterprise customers, Famularo says, has been related to modeling structured and unstructured data points.

“We are going to take the first step in that direction with this release,” he says. “There are different ways to start helping companies when it comes to modeling unstructured data sources. We are taking on our first big move into the NoSQL world.”

Famularo says enterprises love the flexibility of moving to NoSQL databases, but what quickly happens is that they lose the structure of having defined models. “They still want to be able to model their data, and we want to bring the best of both worlds to the table.” If erwin gets that right, he says, it should drive overall NoSQL adoption pretty quickly.

Expect that by the time Erwin Data Modeler 10.0 rolls around, the company will be “fully all in on NoSQL,” he notes.

New Approaches to Customer Outreach

Erwin’s purchase of Casewise brought to the picture not only its BPM and EA expertise and solutions but also its sales force and professional services organization. erwin Data Modeler’s history is that it has been sold through a partner network, and while the company intends to continue operating in channel-preferred mode, Famularo sees real value in integrating direct sales and service into its business model.

“Our channel partners are key to our success and differentiation in the marketplace,” he says, but there’s an opportunity to enhance innovation and product development cycles by erwin having a direct relationship with customers. “Being able to pull customers into everything we do as a company is instrumental for our future success, which helps our channel business as well,” he says. The approach provides erwin with a clearer path to customers to solicit their feedback and pass that on to its engineering team “to build the best products in the industry,” he says.

This quarter it intends to launch a re-tooled partner program that will account for integrating the two sales approaches, and it will include avoiding competition between direct and channel sales. For instance, if a partner and a direct salesperson were targeting the same customer, the partner gets the business first, while the direct salesperson will be compensated, as well. “What’s important for keeping the model in place is getting closer to customers,” he says. “When we understand their requirements, everyone will benefit.”

Building up the Ecosystem

A benefit of a SaaS platform as part of the erwin equation is that it is inherently built to integrate, says McDonagh, being open and API-driven. “It helps us build software faster but also lets us offer our clients freedom of choice regarding the solutions they want to add and flowing integrated data across the solution,” she says.

The open, API-driven nature lends itself to software development kits that give third-party ISVs the opportunity to build applications that are pre-integrated with the erwin platform, she says. In actively building up that community, erwin aims to build up an ecosystem that can add value to its platform – and where data from the Erwin platform can flow to these solutions, making them more valuable too. Key to a strong marketplace ecosystem is being able to leverage the ability to look at data with an agnostic approach, unlocking its value regardless of what system of record owns it or where it is located, erwin says.

As erwin moves ahead in this and other respects, the focus will be on changing the paradigm of how businesses deal with holistic Data Management in their enterprises.

“We want to make data a strategic asset, whether building and developing applications, governing the way data is being run, or pulling out business-critical decisions with Big Data reporting and BI tools,” Famularo says. “Holistic Data Management is the 100 perfect focus of our company, and customers tell us they know we are investing all our time and energy here. We quickly stand out to them because all we do is Data Management.”

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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