It is now just over a week since we launched WhereScape 3D, and the response has been phenomenal.
It is available now from the WhereScape web site, free of charge, for an extended beta period of indeterminate length (think gmail not Windows - we are really interested in your feedback!)
We choose to announce the product at the Boulder BI Brain Trust in Boulder, Colorado. And it wouldn't have been a (release) party wihout a cake:
Thanks to Richard Hackathorn for the photo, and Claudia Imhoff for the modelling (I would credit Jason and me in the background but I'm not eactly what for)!
To release here was an easy decision - the BBBT brings together some of the best critical minds in our industry. We had briefed them previously on our thoughts about the new product, and they had provided some great feedback. Eighteen months later it seemed appropriate that they should be the first people to hear about and see the new product.
At WhereScape our product vision has been driven by our fixation (some would say obsession) with "fast". We think data warehouses take too long to build, and once they are built we think they take too long to change.
When we look at the time taken on a data warehouse project, we break it into three buckets: before you start (we call it plan), during (we call it build), and after (test).
WhereScape RED does exactly what we designed it to do: radically compresses build time, cost and complexity.
This increase in speed is highly valued by our clients, but the fastest build time in the world doesn't matter if the planning is flawed or incomplete. And unfortunately this is often the case. Symptoms of this include unexpected "discoveries", underwhelming deliverables, witch hunts, team changes, or the dreaded "lets bring in the (next set of) consultants".
WhereScape 3D addresses these problems. It supports the planning process - something that happens (formally or informally) on all projects, but a process that is not well supported by software, perhaps because of its complexity.
Planning can mean a lot of things. A simple view is:
But this does not reflect the true story. You can break any of these areas down to reflect more and more complexity:
In addition we often prescribe (or have prescribed) the input context:
...and sometimes even the output context:
With all these variables (and we have only touched on a small number of them here), the planning process can become very complex very quickly.
This was the challenge with WhereScape 3D - can we come up with a software product that practitioners will use to help deal with this complexity?
We decided that the key was flexibility.
The key construct in WhereScape 3D is the model. A model consists of entities, which in turn can have attributes. Each of these objects have a huge amount of configuration options. For instance we can have a logical model of a source system, which can be displayed as:
We can also have a model that is an organization chart, where the entities could be interviews or notes. To WhereScape 3D they are the same (model, entity, attribute), but they can be made to look quite different:
Models can contain many different levels of information, and can be related. For example you can have a logical and a conceptual model of the same area, and they can be related. Models can also be combined in real world ways, at the same time. For instance we could have a logical model related to a conceptual model (what we call an up and down relationship), and the logical model could also be associated to a source system (left to right relationship). And we can extend this further - the conceptual model could be associated with interview notes displayed using an organization chart metaphor. We can now go from the original idea in an interview, see how the conceptual model came about, and then see how, when source system data constraints were taken into account, the logical model was created. Models can also be versioned, so we can see how designs have changed over time. They can be viewed and edited as time, resources, user stories, interviews, design notes, iterations and other planning viewpoints.
This flexibility quickly breeds complexity, particularly given the different input and output contexts for planning. To deal with this complexity we provide the ability to template the common planning scenarios as use cases: sets of pre-defined object ensembles, or pathways through WhereScape 3D. Use cases are importable and exportable. We have shipped the beta version with three use cases: documenting a source system, discovering a source system for star schema analysis and documenting a data warehouse WhereScape 3D is capable of many more use cases - look for others soon on our marketplace. We expect use cases to come from the user community as well as ourselves, and will be slip-streaming them into the extended beta program.
If you would like to learn more about WhereScape 3D, you can schedule a web demo and we will run you through its paces. or for a limited period of time you can freely download the beta version.
We are really excited about WhereScape 3D, and the positive impact it will have on the data warehousing planning process. Thanks to Huib, Jason, Jason, Penny, David, Wayne and Kurt and all the other people who have contributed to its success. And watch this space - there is a lot more to come.