ESRI UC Cloud Tech Workshop

Just a few quick notes. Scott Morehouse gave a high level overview of ESRI’s take on the cloud. Depicted it as the next step in a natural evolution that began in mainframes, minis, workstations, PCs.

Three types of clouds:
Software as a Service (SaaS) (e.g. Salesforce)
Platform aaS (e.g. Azure)
Infrastructure aaS (e.g. Amazon EC2, S3)

While he only said the first two (SaaS and PaaS) were “interesting”, he later mentioned ESRI is actively experimenting with EC2/S3. I wonder if this means ESRI intends to build their own Infrastructure so as to provide a spatially enhanced Platform so upon which 3rd parties can build and sell their own apps?

Apps Need to be a Sellable Asset
The keynotes were really good yesterday. Hernando de Soto made a strong case for the importance of “sellable assets” for development. While he was speaking of developing nations, I think the same can be said of the geospatial software industry. There is little incentive for developers to post code at ArcScripts. We need to recognize that the tools developed by application programmers are a form of capital. The challenge is how to make them sellable assets. I think a marketplace for applications could be a part of a cloud. Let’s get back to basics. Years ago ESRI was always reminding people that GIS is a lot more than just data. Applications are another important part. The session seemed to place far more emphasis on all the cool new map services (data) than on applications. There was a demo of Business Analyst Online at the end. After the presentation, I asked Dirk Gorter if some day a 3rd party could develop something like the BAO app and deploy onto ESRI’s cloud where it could be capitalized. He said yes. I hope he understood my question clearly, there was the usual commotion of moving out for the next presenters to come in. More on this later.

3 comments so far

  1. Eric Wolf on

    Do you think ESRI is considering offering ArcServer running on Windows instances at Amazon EC2? Amazon already has a pricing structure for licensed software. It would make it feasible for people to “play” with ArcServer without investing the $$$$ it costs to get a license.

    As for ArcScripts, the couple I’ve posted have directly led to consulting $$$. ESRI has co-opted many of the social aspects of Open Source software with ArcScripts and the forums. I think it would be detrimental to charge for use of ArcScripts.

  2. Tim on

    ESRI will never build their own true cloud (not a psuedo-sharing platform (ArcGIS Online), have you noticed the absence of apps from AGO?) for customer’s application because then they would be responsible for up-time of ArcGIS Server-based technology.

    Can you imagine putting an SLA on ArcGIS Server application uptime… oh my, the liability and liquidation damages potential just made me crap myself. Although it it much improved, AGS is not even close to being SLA-able.

    Potential hosting clients are better off with GIS-centric cloud providers like Skygone. We have been with them for a year and they provided us a cloud-infrastructure designed for the high RAM and CPU demand of our AGS apps. Cheaper than we could do it ourselves

  3. Kirk Kuykendall on

    Eric –
    In the ArcGIS Online session this afternoon Dean Kensock mentioned ESRI is planning on providing ArcGIS hosting services.

    Yeah, ArcScripts can definitely lead to consulting. Consulting is not as scalable though. There are only 24 hours in a day.

    Tim – hadn’t heard of Skygone. Looks cool. It seems like bugs reported on an ESRI hosted service would be fixed much faster since it would require little or no effort to reproduce, and they could attach directly to the process for debugging.

    I wonder how Skygone feels about ESRI’s plans.

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