Review: Embarcadero Does It Better

Data architects and developers need to understand the state of an enterprise's data, and a model-driven solution is often the answer.
Businesses that need to design, create and maintain database applications are faced with an onslaught of unstructured data formats and complex data relationships. Data architects, developers and administrators need an easy way to understand the state of an enterprise's data, and a model-driven solution is often the answer.

Technical Editor
A model-driven solution is usually implemented at the database layer, but in order to make data management easier, this type of solution must be extended to other file systems so that relationships between different data types and formats can easily be understood. A data transformation mapping tool such as Embarcadero's DT/Studio tracks relationships between data from different sources and targets bottlenecks that can affect productivity and efficiency.

Embarcadero's new ER/Studio 6.5 and Repository 3.0, now in second beta testing, costs $3,495. The software is an update to ER/Studio 6, previously reviewed by the CRN Test Center. Version 6.5 adds valuable new tools and features, but retains its core competency as an application that works with DT/Studio to help developers and architects design and develop logical data models from hybrid data sources. The software adds transformation mapping functionality in a MetaWizard tool, which can import metadata from multiple sources or export metadata to applications.

MetaWizard uses the common warehouse model (CWM) to model and store metadata. CWM is an OMG (Object Management Group) standard designed for the interchange of metadata in different formats. CWM can map data from RDBMS and various data warehousing architectures, knowledge management and portal systems and business intelligence technologies.

Essentially, CWM is an all-encompassing, multiformat data-mapping technology. Incorporating CWM into ER/Studio 6.5 was an important step for Embarcadero.

The MetaWizard utility can be used to export metadata from diagrams, models and submodels. Developers can create DDLs (Data Definition Language) and use the CWM techniques to connect data from disparate sources. MetaWizard supports XSD (XML Schema Definition) schemas and DTDs (Document Type Definition), DB2 Cube Views, Business Objects, Cognos and UML (Unified Modeling Language) formats, from various data-modeling tools.

The use of engineering notations such as IDEF/1X is still the main method to visualize basic data models. But to visualize multidimensional metadata logical models, ER/Studio 6.5 uses a new visual model that represents business intelligence metadata and data-warehousing constructs. Dimensional table types and sub-type constructs help define complex sets of data using a two-dimensional perspective.

A new "Where Used" tab in the tool's Entity Editor helps architects identify each place an entity is used throughout multiple physical and logical models. This feature allows for on-the-fly impact analysis before implementation of a new physical model. Where Used can also address mapping issues from physical to logical models and vice versa. This feature makes it easy for users to track data warehouse fields and attributes in multi-dimensional metadata models. ER/Studio 6.5 also incorporates business intelligence models by denormalizing mapping operations on physical database models. Users now have a denormalization menu option that executes six industry-standard operations to denormalize relational constructs. These operations can split relationships in a horizontal or vertical mapping construct to increase performance. Database designers or developers can then determine whether a relational construct will perform adequately as-is, or if it needs to be optimized. However, developers must test the physical model after changes have been made outside ER/Studio.

Embarcadero's three-tier channel program provides sales training and competitive information for its midtier partners as well as on-site sales and implementation assistance to partners in the highest tier. Technical training and pre- and post-sales support are also provided. Average reseller margins range from 7 percent to 30 percent.

COMPANY: Embarcadero Technologies
San Francisco
(415) 834-3131
DISTRIBUTORS: Business Architecture Group, Doreen Evans Associates, e-Modelers, Piocon, Sogeti

Note: Vendors can earn up to five stars for technical merit and five for their channel program. If the average of these two scores is four stars or greater, the product earns CRN Test Center Recommended status.

Editor's Choice
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing