Today's CIOs must do much more than safeguard company data -- they must also understand it in the context of the business while continuously improving its overall quality. Several tools in today‘s environment contribute to that overall process, including the DBMS itself, front-end applications, ETL tools, back-end reporting tools and data modeling tools. It is, however, the data modeling tool that provides the most comprehensive picture of where the data is, what it looks like, and how best to manage it.

The data modeling tool is best suited for filling this role because it houses key metadata and can provide the cleanest, clearest conceptual view of business-critical systems. And, as non-technical business users become frequent users of data modeling toolsets and the valuable visualization capabilities they provide, ease of use becomes a key consideration. For these and other reasons, selection of the right data modeling tool is critical.

This review will compare CA ERwin Data Modeler r8 (CA ERwin), newly released in February 2011, with two other popular modeling tools Sybase‘s PowerDesigner v15.3.0 (PowerDesigner) and Embarcadero Technologies‘ ER/Studio Data Architect 9.0.1 (ER/Studio). All three tests involved modeling for a Microsoft SQL Server 2008 environment.