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Cloud Thoughts – Back From Esri Partner Conference

Dale Lutz
March 16, 20113 min
After having a few days to reflect on the last week’s refreshing Esri Partner Conference, my thoughts keep going back to how the “Cloud” changes everything. Or at least how...
Pondering the cloud during a break at the .
Pondering the cloud during a break at the Esri Partner Conference.

After having a few days to reflect on the last week’s refreshing Esri Partner Conference, my thoughts keep going back to how the “Cloud” changes everything. Or at least how it seems to be right in front of our eyes.

I remember quite well, back in 2005, when Google Earth was first release, how some said that Esri (then ESRI) should have done something similar. At the time, I remember thinking that the infrastructure necessary to power such a thing would be (and likely was) too massive for even a company of Esri’s scale to contemplate.

Fast forward to today. ArcGIS Online basemaps, which exceed what anyone could have imagined being possible back in 2005, are now available for (mostly) free usage. The Esri Community Basemaps program is quietly accumulating a massive authoritative worldwide dataset. The cloud is making this, and more, all possible.

On my first day back in the office, a colleague reminded me how I could use AutoCAD in the Cloud to edit a CAD file that I was prepping for the FME 2011 World Tour. No software to install! Later in the day, I heard about a customer’s suggestion for FME to support database.com – SalesForce’s Cloud Database.

Even my kids are using the cloud! When I got home that night, my 11 and 13 year old sons wanted to set up an old beater computer to host a “Minecraft” server for them and their friends to play on. For a host of reasons, I wasn’t very enthused about that, but thought, hey, maybe we can use Amazon Web Services (AWS) to set this up. With only a bit of help (and a credit card number) from their dad, they were up and running in about 30 minutes. And best of all, the small instance they’re using is free for a year!

The Cloud. Even those who don’t like the term have to admit that the impact is enormous. It’s not in the future, it is now. At Safe this means we have to continue to watch for the formats of the cloud, and to continue to explore ways of deploying into it. In fact, one of the talks one our FME World Tour on Thursday in San Francisco is about just this, as Jeff Hobbs is presenting “From Oracle Spatial to DGN Using FME Server and WeoGeo.com”. It should be very interesting indeed.

How about you? Is cloud hosted computing, cloud hosted geo-apps, or cloud hosted data playing a role in your organization yet? And if not, how soon? I suspect it won’t be long, because after all, in 2011, using the Cloud is child’s play.

Who can forget the Andy Griffith episode where Opie stood up his own Minecraft server?

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