High-Level Overview via “Straw-man Diagram”

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Tags:
Data analysis
Database Management Systems
DataCenter
Development
IT architecture
Software Quality Assurance
Good morn ... In effort to capture a high-level overview of all our database management systems in production, we developed a "straw-man"-like diagram that is intended to represent our core mission critical processing system and all related peripheral systems. The diagram basically illustrates whether or not a relationship exist between the core and the peripheral system; in which direction does data flow; and whether or not the system is housed internally or externally -- as well as whether the system is proprietary or vendor-managed. Subsequent diagrams will drill down on the data relationships to an eventual code level where applicable. The diagram is created in Visio. At this level of generality, my questions are as follows: 1. ... is this "straw-man"-like approach a good strategy or best practice? 2. ... are there diagram tools other than or complimentary to Visio that will allow me to delve deeper into the system interfaces by way of a click or hyperlink? 3. ... how are other professionals developing and capturing that big-picture overview of their respective environments? 4. ... what value-added advise is there for such a project? Thanks in advance, Eric
ASKED: June 1, 2004  11:15 AM
UPDATED: June 21, 2004  10:17 AM

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This may depend on your mix of platforms, databases, development staffing, packaged products, maintenance agreements and overall strategy of your organisation.
If you can give us more details, it will be easier to answer these questions.
In simple terms, in some circumstances, this is a good method, there are development languages and other tools that can either generate forward or backwards to see data/database/platform dependencies.

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  • Cecrane
    While I have used Visio to do database configuration, I prefer ERWIN and BPWIN.
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  • Mcp111
    Another good tool is Embarcadero ER Studio
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  • AMorganJones
    Dear Eric, I have used a variety of tools over the years to perform the task you have listed. There are certainly many CASE tools around which will take you from a high level overview down to intra-system processes. (Even a simple set of SSADM diagrams will do this and be very useful in communicating the how system work within themselves and with one another.) However, I have to counsel against going down to the detailed code level. I have found this to require specific tools for specific systems or programming languages. Even the most successful tools require some manual intervention at this level! Also, having produced the diagrams, it will be a full time job simply keeping them up-to-date. My most successful use of such diagrams was showing how a myriad of small systems linked together - something no-one had ever managed to put together in one place before!
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  • Tmjimob
    DBVisualizer creates diagrams of database schemas that can be orthoganol, hierarchic, etc. Probably not what you need, but thought I'd mention it's come in handy for designing small schemas.
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  • 17051966
    Your most recent description was quite helpful in understanding your objectives and the current status of your project. I have used Visio extensively and find it to be an appropriate tool for your work geared towards the "executive" level of audience. Visio offers a wide variety of diagramming techniques from which you can choose the proper tool for your use. Once you go to the next level which is more technical and geared towards the database and program designs, you will need a good CASE tool. Given your multiplicity of platforms a tool like ERWIN will be useful. If you want to work with Oracle alone, Oracle Designer is better.
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  • MisterMac
    I've used ErWin, ER/Studio, and other tools. My favorite is still Sybase's PowerDesigner. It has a complimentary data/process modeling tool that might fit the bill.
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  • Alnoor
    Hi Eric, Your explanation was quite helpful in understanding your objectives. I'm not quite a user of Visio but I've been mostly in contact with people using it extensively. I'm using a modeling software called Casewise Corporate Modeler that helps me modeling processes, databases, etc. There is a lot of others software but this is only to share my experience. I've been using for their native interface with Visio, which mean, importing rapidly diagrammes drawn with Visio to Corporate Modeler. You may, for each processes, evaluate the cost of maintaining it (direct and indirect costs), evaluate the frequency of the call for each database, etc. which will allow you then to do a simulation. It can be a good start then to know the cost and the path for optimization. Best regards and sorry for my english, Alnoor
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