Enterprise Data Model: The Nucleus of Big Data Architecture

CEO, Portable

What is an enterprise data model?

An enterprise data model is an integrated view that outlines how data is organized and structured within a company. It defines the relationships between different data elements using a standardized schema.

The model should be aligned with the company's business processes. It helps decision-makers gain access to the information they need to make data-driven choices.

In simple terms, an enterprise data model serves as a blueprint for a company's data. It provides a clear and consistent view of how data is related and used.

This guide will cover the benefits, challenges and components of data modeling -- along with data modeling best practices and techniques.

Why develop an enterprise data model?

The enterprise data model is an important aspect of data governance and data management. It helps to organize and structure data stored in a data warehouse.

Overall, EDM involves the design of an ETL architecture -- so organizations can efficiently bring data from various sources into one data repository.

By creating a clear and consistent data model, businesses can make sure their data is accurate and accessible. It also makes data usable for informed decision-making.

What is the difference between an entity and enterprise data model?

The difference between Entity Data Model (EDM) and Enterprise Data Model lies in their scope and purpose.

Entity data model focuses on:

  • The conceptual design of data, describing relationships between entities, independent of physical storage.

  • Providing a foundation for the organization's data architecture and reducing data redundancy.

Enterprise data model focuses on:

  • The overall data landscape of the organization.

  • All aspects of data integration, including physical data models.

  • Providing a comprehensive view of the organization's data, including metadata and data governance.

  • Ensuring data consistency across the enterprise.

Usually, a data architect creates the entity data model. In contrast, a team of data experts from various departments creates the EDM.

What are the benefits of data modeling?

  • Data modeling provides a visual representation of data assets and their relationships. This helps in making data sources easier to understand and manage.

  • Data modeling ensures consistent structure and quality of data across the enterprise. This leads to more efficient and effective decision-making.

  • Data modeling facilitates communication between stakeholders. It helps align data requirements with business goals.

What are the challenges of data modeling?

  • The biggest challenge is accurately defining the data requirements for the information system. This requires careful consideration of the data's structure, quality, volume, and usage.

  • Another challenge is keeping the balance between being detailed and flexible. The model needs to be detailed enough to accurately reflect the data. It also should be flexible enough to accommodate future changes or growth.

  • The third challenge is managing relationships between data. For example, working with foreign keys when maintaining the relationships between data. It requires a deep understanding of the underlying data structures and how they are related.

  • To summarize, data modeling is a complex and multi-faceted process. It involves defining data relationships, structures, and characteristics. Mapping out these variables is a labor intensive task.

  • It requires upfront planning and commitment, but at the enterprise level -- data modeling is essential to the success of any information system and can greatly impact the performance, accuracy, and usefulness of data.

What are the components of an enterprise data model?

  1. Subject Area Model
  2. Conceptual Data Model
  3. Conceptual Entity Model
  4. Logical Model
  5. Physical Model

Each component builds upon the previous component. This leads to a complete, accurate representation of an organization's data.

The components of an enterprise data model aim to cover various aspects of the data modeling process. These aspects include data requirements, architecture, design, access, and management.

1. Subject Area Model

A subject area model focuses on a specific business area. Some examples of those business areas are sales or marketing.

A subject area model defines business concepts and entities. It is also able to identify data marts and data quality issues.

2. Conceptual Data Model

A conceptual data model is a high-level representation of the data structures. Conceptual data models align with the business needs and requirements. Its purpose of it is to provide a semantic understanding of the data. Eventually, they are used to communicate business concepts to business users.

3. Conceptual Entity Model

A conceptual entity model is similar to a conceptual data model. However, it focuses on the entities and relationships within the data structure. It helps define the structure of data and is used as a basis for creating a more detailed logical model.

4. Logical Model

A logical model is a detailed representation of the data structure. You need to consider business rules and data quality requirements when creating logical models. It is used as a blueprint for the physical data model. Logical models are independent of any specific technology or database.

5. Physical Model

A physical model is a representation of the data structure in a specific database management system. It uses data modeling tools to create a database schema. This database schema implements the logical model mentioned above. 

What are some enterprise data modeling techniques?

Enterprise architects use special techniques to design and visualize the structure of an organization's data.

The two most common enterprise data modeling techniques are:

  • Entity Relationship (E-R) Model

  • Unified Modeling Language (UML)

Entity Relationship (E-R) Model

The Entity Relationship Model is a popular technique for modeling tabular data. It involves creating graphical representations of data objects, their attributes, and their relationships. This technique is ideal for designing relational databases. ER models also provide clear visuals of database schemas and top-level data.

UML (Unified Modeling Language)

UML is a well-established and widely used technique for enterprise data modeling. It is a powerful tool for designing information systems and modeling the structure of data objects within an enterprise architecture.

UML provides a series of notations. You can use them to model the behavior and relationships of data objects in a clear and concise manner.

You can use UML for creating:

  • Class diagrams - define the classes, methods, and attributes of databases

  • Activity diagrams - show the flow of activities or tasks within a system

  • Sequence diagrams - show the interactions between objects in a system over time

  • Use case diagrams - provide a high-level view of the relationships between actors in a system.

Enterprise modeling best practices

  • Best practices provide a roadmap for creating efficient, and scalable data models.

  • It ensures that the models are aligned with the business requirements and stakeholder needs.

  • Best practices guarantee to provide high-quality data.

  • They ensure that the data model can be maintained throughout its lifecycle.

Establishing a single source of truth

Having a single source of truth is crucial in ensuring data consistency and accuracy throughout the enterprise. This helps eliminate duplicated data and inconsistencies, ensuring that all stakeholders are working with the same information. This also supports better decision-making and improved data quality.

Keeping data models simple and scalable

Keeping data models simple and scalable is important for maintaining ease of use and flexibility. Starting with simple data models and gradually expanding as needed, allows for a better understanding of the data and its requirements. This approach makes it easier to identify and resolve issues and supports efficient data management.

Using high-quality tools

Using high-quality tools is crucial in ensuring that the data is managed and processed efficiently. These tools must be able to handle the size, growth pace, and query language of the data.

Let's see some of the ways you can use tools for the EDM creation process.

  1. Using no code ETL tools for integrating and transforming large amounts of data. No Code ETL tools help to do it quickly and efficiently.

  2. High quality modeling tools can automate the creation of complex data models. Moreover, these tools help to improve the accuracy of enterprise data models.

  3. User-friendly and interactive visualization tools can be used in the data modeling process. They enhance collaboration and communication among stakeholders.

When should you establish an enterprise data model?

Data teams should establish a standardized model for effective data management. When a company grows to a certain size, there needs to be processes that provide a clear understanding of data structure and relationships of data.

This clear understanding helps to make better decisions. It overall improves operational efficiency and reduces engineering team waste.

EDM also helps to have a common understanding of the data across different teams. This ensures the information used across the enterprise is accurate and consistent.

Recap of enterprise data modeling

An EDM is an integrated view of an organization's data and its relationships between different data entities.

There are different types of data models used for various purposes, including

  • Conceptual.

  • Logical.

  • Physical.

Having an enterprise data model helps ensure data accuracy and consistency. EDM makes it easier for stakeholders to access and use the data. Additionally, it helps organizations better understand and manage their data assets.