1992 - The Birth of Universal Data Models Concept
In 1990 and 1991, after 8 years of data modeling consulting experience working for companies such as Andersen Consulting and Oracle, Len Silverston was contracted as a data model consultant for a large telecommunications company to help them develop an enterprise data model, along with about 100 other modelers. After spending $150 million on their data model, the company decided that they did not receive benefit from it, and cancelled the effort. After this engagement, Mr. Silverston decided that he either needed to leave the data management field since it seemed so unproductive, or else change the industry, so organizations did not have to repeat wasteful efforts like this.

In the beginning of 1992, he opted for the latter and started developing re-usable or “Universal” data models so that organizations did not have to waste time and money while developing suboptimal models since they were "re-inventing the wheel" when data modeling.

In 1992, Len Silverston started an organization called Quest Database Consulting that focused on data management, data modeling and database solutions. One of the key initiatives was the development of re-usable data models for common types of data that seemed to be prevalent in almost all organizations. For example, the modeling of people, organizations, orders, invoices, payments work efforts, accounting, budgeting and many other data areas seemed to appear in most of the data modeling assignments. So Mr. Silverston and many of the other Quest consultants were able to develop and re-use a common library of data models to save significant amounts of time on data modeling engagements for many clients, while improving the quality of the data models and designs.

The first edition of The Data Model Resource Book was published. Authored by Len Silverston, Kent Graziano (a senior database consultant at Quest) and Bill Inmon (industry leader and data warehouse consultant), this book contained a library of "Universal Data Models" and sold extremely well, thus popularizing the idea of Universal Data Models. It was rated #12 on the Computer Literacy Best Seller’s List.

Len Silverston closed Quest Database Consulting and moved all the intellectual property and assets to his new company, Universal Data Models, LLC. The vision of this enterprise was to focus on re-usable models to help companies integrate their information, systems and people. Hundreds of re-usable data models including common models needed by all enterprises, as well as industry specific data models, were developed and licensed to organizations worldwide.

Each year, Universal Data Models has conducted jump-start programs to many large, medium and small organizations. We receive emails from hundreds of organizations using the Universal Data Models over the years. We estimate that thousands of organizations use these models and The Data Model Resource Books has sold tens of thousands of copies over the years.

Microsoft licenses the Universal Data Model repository worldwide. Microsoft acknowledged the Universal Data Models as "best of breed" and purchased a license to use and distribute these models worldwide. The SQL for the UDMs were included in many versions of SQL Server.

Due to the success of the first book and continuing adoption and usage of Universal Data Models worldwide, the Data Models Resource Books: Revised Edition, Volumes 1 and 2 are published. Also released were electronic versions of the SQL for both the latest common and industry data models in electronic formats on the internet at wiley.silverston.com.

The Universal Data Model repository offered in ERwin. Previously, the Universal Data Model repository was maintained and licensed in Oracle Designer. At this time, hundreds of subject data area models including common and industry models are offered with complete definitions and details in ERwin data modeling tool format. Enterprises around the world start licensing the models in ERwin format.

Numerous benchmarks rated the UDM Data Model Repository #1, such as Data Blueprint, a data management consulting firm, that conducted a six month intensive analysis of data model template solutions and deemed UDM’s solution as the best price/value combination. Benchmarks within international enterprises also concluded that UDM is the best solution and this led to these enterprises licensing the UDM repository.


Len Silverston is awarded the prestigious 2004 DAMA (Data Management Association) International Achievement Award by DAMA International at the annual conference, for his significant contribution in advancing the data management field via his revolutionary and popular concept, development and distribution of Universal Data Models to help many organizations worldwide.

Universal Data Models offers human dynamics training and consulting for data management. After decades of experiences in data management programs, Universal Data Models, LLC starts its research and development efforts regarding “Universal Principles” and the human dynamics involved in achieving data management and data integration success.

Mr. Silverston conducts many presentations and seminars on human dynamics, politics and culture, in the context of information management and integration.

Universal Data Models develops many tools, techniques, solutions, courses, consulting offerings and research regarding ways to effectively navigate politics, culture and human interaction, which are perhaps the key to success in integration efforts.

Len Silverston is awarded the 2006 DAMA International Community Award for his contribution in helping the data management community. Mr. Silverston is appointed as an advisor to the DAMA International board, where he still serves today.

Universal Data Models partners with Siperian. Siperian customers license and use the Universal Data Models in their master data management solutions.

Universal Data Models partners with Embarcdero, who offer the latest Universal Data Models in Embarcadero’s data modeling tool, ER/Studio. Copies of the UDM Repository are licensed around the world through Embarcadero. Embarcadero offers the common UDM models and industry models, and for the first time also offers individual subject data areas, such as party, product, order, and more, that can be individually licensed and downloaded directly from the Web.

Publishing and release of “The Data Model Resource Book, Volume 3, Universal Patterns for Data Modeling” By Len Silverston and Paul Agnew (a Senior Consultant at Universal Data Models who has worked with UDM and Len for the last 7 years). Volume 3 includes provides patterns for the most prevalent data modeling constructs such as ways to model roles, hierarchies, classifications, statuses, contact information and business rules.