Tool suites offer different options

A big argument now in selecting an enterprise architecture (EA) tool is whether to pick a suite of system and business modeling tools or buy individual tools specifically targeted for an EA.

"A suite comes into play when you have a bunch of different people with different views of what tools should be used for, or you have legacy tools in place and people want to use them for an EA," said Jan Popkin, chief executive officer of Popkin Software, which sells a specialized EA tool.

According to Computer Associates International Inc., which has a large number of individual modeling tools such as application and database design software in place at many federal agencies, the answer seems to be that customers are slowly moving to suites. Since the firm introduced its AllFusion Modeling Suite last year, sales have been slowly outpacing those of individual tools.

"We did take a look at how different tools could be used to help people and what the integration issues were," said Greg Clancy, brand manager for CA's modeling suites group. "It came down to what we saw as the need for the quality of exchange of information from one group involved in the EA to another, what we call our 'model management perspective.' "

CA tackled the interoperability problem by making the new version of AllFusion, introduced April 23, compliant with Extensible Markup Language Metadata Interchange (XMI).

In the future, tools will be differentiated by features. As standards such as XMI are increasingly adopted and interoperability issues drop away, vendors will be asking how they can distinguish their products.

"The flexibility of the tools is a major requirement now," said Abe Meilich, a certified systems architect for Lockheed Martin Mission Systems.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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