Wednesday, March 20, 2013

SAP Powerdesigner: The beginning of the end? PRICE UPDATE


In this post +Mirko Pawlak discusses a price hike of the sybase products like Powerdesigner (an ER modeling tool) of around 80%. Since Powerdesigner is already one of the most (if not THE most) expensive ER modeling tool this means Powerdesigner Licensing costs will go through the roof.

ER tools and standards

ER modeling tools and standards have always been an issue. Interoperability and standardization have never been very strong here, leading to expensive (but sometimes interesting) closed ecosystems and tooling applications. There are different notations and approaches like Barker and Information Engineering, some tools support several notations while others stick to one notation. ER tools have extended the notation to different aspects of information/data modeling and databases, so they could claim full support of the development cycle, even if this is not always what Chen had in mind when he developed ER modeling/diagramming. Transporting metadata from one tool to another has always been a costly endeavor, especially for not non basic metadata data of entities, attributes and keys. The only vendor seriously addressing this aspect is metaintegration: which shows the how small and exclusive this market really is.

Powerdesigner vs the rest

Powerdesigner has always been one of my favorite tools, not because it was always the best, or that it did not have serious (sometimes even almost fatal) flaws, but because it is quite extensible and hence you can fix a lot of issues around diagramming and design, model generation and transformation. Other good tools are Embarcadero's ER/Studio, which lacks the integrated extensibility, but is a good tool with a reasonable automation interface. CA Erwin is one of the most active tool vendors out there with integrating and partnering. For example a Data Vault ER modeling notation and integration with BIReady. If this means Erwin is going to be customizable to the extent that powerdesigner has now I don't know.
Powerdesigner also has Enterprise Architecture, UML, XML, ETL, BPM and other notations under it's roof, but product integration with 3rd party tools (except database platforms) is not that extensive. However, integration into the SAP technology stack is going to be fixed in a short time frame, allowing Business Objects, SAP HANA and other tools to integrate into Powerdesigner.

Buying into Powerdesigner

Like Mirko mentioned, if you'd like to buy (more) powerdesigner (licenses) you might do it now (before the end of march). If not, plan B might just need a good dusting off. As with Business Objects, SAP customers are currently faced with a new (expensive) tool from outside the SAP realm with which they have no experience. The current (non SAP) customer base however needs to address the fact that their tool gets the most attention when integrating into the SAP ecosystem. I don't mind if this means that the foundation of powerdesigner becomes better, but I fear a lot of new developments will be specific extensions for product integration, that might give rise to more issues instead of less.

The future of Powerdesigner, ER modeling and database tools.

The market for data and database diagramming is constantly changing. I see a commodization of database development diagramming tools like Oracle SQL Developer or Microsoft SQL Server Data Tools. UML diagramming is also becoming a commodity. This alas does not imply that good data modeling is becoming a basic skill, since I see toolsets, vendors and notations ruling the data modeling space instead of good data modeling standards and foundations like the Relational Model and Fact Orientend Modeling (NIAM/FCO-IM). I also see more and more semantic tools and technologies as well, but connection to the database realm is opportunistic at best. In this light the expensive Case Tools and ER tools are not winning any war. But it does mean that one of the few tools out there that is flexible enough to accommodate all kinds of diagramming is becoming more of a niche tool in the SAP ecosystem.


As shown at the toolpark website:  PD prices will go up indeed. As discussed here by +Mirko Pawlak  , it is just to match the prices of the competition (although licensing schemes and functionality are difficult to match) . For example, the old price of the basic Data Architect standalone seat (the cheapest license btw) goes from 2.440 Euro netto to 4.600 Euro netto.

It is clear to me that market forces here are driving the prices up instead of down. Which means I have to conclude that there is no real competitive market, as any specialist can attest to who has done a migration from one ER tool to another.

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