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It is actually going a bit far to say that there are truly data modelling wars going on but certainly the users of ERWin are being aggressively targeted by both Sybase with PowerDesigner and Embarcadero with ER/Studio, despite the fact that ERWin is a part of CA’s EITM (enterprise IT management) strategy.
Of course, these aren’t the only vendors with data modelling capabilities: MEGA, Telelogic (Popkin), Select and now IBM (with Rational Data Architect) are all further examples of companies with data modelling capabilities. Even Quest, now that it has stopped reselling PowerDesigner, has some lite capabilities of its own. However, none of these vendors start from a modelling premise: modelling is typically subsidiary for these vendors to other concerns such as architecture, development, process management or, in the case of IBM, information as a service. So one could say that the only vendors that are really serious about data modelling are the three companies mentioned in the first paragraph; plus, possibly, IBM.
The problem with data modelling as a stand-alone function, however, is precisely that it is stand-alone. As in other areas of technology companies are looking to standardise on a common platform for all their modelling requirements and this plays into the hands of Sybase, in particular, because it arguably has the broadest set of functions and capabilities currently available in the market. However, Embarcadero is setting itself up to challenge this position with the recent announcement of its roadmap for next year. In particular, it will be introducing conceptual modelling, subject area modelling and a new product: EA/Studio 2007 that will enable the link between process and data.
EA/Studio, where EA stands for enterprise architecture, will provide process modelling capabilities based on the BPMN (business process modelling notation) standard. Initially it will be released (first quarter 2007) as a stand-alone capability with import/export integration with ER/Studio but in due course the company plans to merge the two products (though ER/Studio users will continue to be supported). Ultimately, the company intends to provide a single modelling suite that provides ER (entity-relationship), UML, XML and process modelling all within a single environment.
Now, one point I should make clear is that, at least to begin with, Embarcadero has no intention of competing with Sybase on a feature/function basis: instead, it is concentrating on providing what business users really need, in an easy to use manner and at a competitive price, which should also mean that the company can also offer benefits compared to the likes of IDS Scheer for process modelling, as not everybody needs a Rolls Royce.
As far as data modelling is concerned this announcement sounds worrying for ERWin – you can now opt for a more extensive environment, either with all the bells and whistles that Sybase can offer, or with an easy to use, low cost option from Embarcadero—with CA’s view being that users don’t want a single platform (which is worthy of a separate debate but with which I disagree) it is arguable that with ERWin you are not going to go places and the product that once dominated this market is set to lose its long-time leadership position.