I have engaged with a number of customers recently starting out with PowerDesigner. In more than one case the customer acquired PowerDesigner as part of a larger solution such a Data Services Enterprise Edition or Intelligent Business Operations. As a consequence the customers had not investigated PowerDesigner and were unsure of how to get started. Nevertheless the idea of using Power Designer for Enterprise Architecture, Data Modelling or Business Process Modelling was attractive and from there I had a number of discussions on next steps. This blog outlines four key things needed to get started.
Obtaining a Server
As PowerDesigner is installed on a desktop sytems this step is often overlooked. In practice a lot of the value of PowerDesigner is associated with having a central repository available and for enterprise deployments this is esstential. As a consequence it pays to initiate the process of obtaining a server early in your PowerDesigner project. I recommend using a single Windows based server. This simplifies the initial deployment and can be reviewed later if needed. The minimum recommended system in the manual is a dual-core machine, with 2-4GB of RAM. I suggest doubling this – 4 cores and 8 GB RAM. My reasoning is that it is most effective to install all the server components on one system as part of the initial setup.
Obtain a License Key
License keys are obtained via the SAP Support Portal . To access the keys on the portal you will need a login (often called an s-user). Typically the SAP team in many organisations already have these logins; it is possible to create additional users if needed. The Getting Started page provides the instructions for administration of users.
The process for creating a PowerDesigner key is described in the How to Request License Keys – SAP Sybase document. The recommended approach is to use a central license management (sysam) system to provide served licenses. This has two advantages:
- 1. There is only one license key file created which reduces the administration overhead.
- 2. Users can access the license from any machine when on-line. License can be “checked out” for off-line use through the “obtain mobile license” feature.
Important: The license key is linked to the MAC address of the server. So obtaining the server is a prerequisite to generating the license key.
The installation processes documented on the Help Portal. Installation involves a number of components including:
- Web Server
- node.js server
- repository proxy
The diagram below illustrates all of the components.
My recommendation is to install in the following sequence:
- Install sysam and the license key – this makes the PowerDesigner client available.
- Install the repository database. This can be the SQLAnywhere database supplied with PowerDesigner or MS SQL Server / DB2 / ASE. Whatever database is selected it is important to ensure that the database is correctly licensed and backed up. The installation guide provides a sizing formula based on the size of the models and frequency of update. This is often difficult to determine before starting and it is often more practical to simply use a 50 GB database to get started.
- Install a PowerDesigner client system with the ODBC drivers for the repository database.
- Create the repository database structures – this requires connecting the client to the database directly.
- Install the Web Portal and node.js service.
- Install the Repository proxy.
- Create a file share on the server with the version of PowerDesigner – including all service packs downloaded for installation. For most organisations this is adequate to ensure a standard installation during startup. The installation documentation provides information on automated (silent) installs for larger deployments.
- Install clients as required.
PowerDesigner looks simple enough but to get started it really pays get trained. I attended the Data Modelling course nearly ten years ago but it still pays off in productivity every time I create a model. SAP offer the following courses:
- Data Modelling with PowerDesigner 16.5
- Enterprise Architecture Modelling with SAP PowerDesigner 16.5
- Customizing and Extending PowerDesigner
- SAP PowerDesigner Administration
Take a serious look at the Virtual Live Classroom delivery option.
If you prefer the self study route there are many resources including:
- A full set of PDF manuals available in PowerDesigner via Help>Online Documentation. Also look out for the Videos tab.
- Data Modelling Made Simple with PowerDesigner
There is no substitute for a practical experiment to understand where and why PowerDesigner will benefit your efforts. Select a pilot project and get started. A few ideas I recommend that customers focus on in the pilot include:
- Keep the scope as small as possible. This makes sense for any pilot but particularly true for a modelling tool – where the output can be abstract – a smaller scope means it’s easier to show results early.
- Remember the second of Steven Covey’s seven habits “Begin with the end in mind.” In the case of PowerDesigner this means figuring out what will the output be, who will consume the output and how will it be delivered. This might sound obvious but it’s easy to start modelling and then later find out that it’s harder to produce the output than expected.
- Ask the question posed by George Box “Remember that all models are wrong; the practical question is how wrong they have to be to not be useful?” In this regard it’s key to establish early on how much detail your models will require to be useful. Too much detail extend the project and delays value, too little detail renders the model useless. The best time to find this out is on a small scale pilot.
It’s not a subject that this blog can cover comprehensively but once the pilot is done it is essential to pause and look at standards and structures. At the minimum the standards should include:
- Repository structure and administration
- Folders, projects and permissions
- Roles and responsibilities
- Portal and client access
- Modelling Standards
- Types of models to be used
- Scope of models
- Notation and other standard internal to models identified
If you read this far I’m assuming you are looking at starting and implementation. Good luck and please let the community have some feedback.