Friday, September 26, 2008

EAIM 2009 Release

It's official! The ERDAS APOLLO Image Manager 2009 has been released!!!

What a great major release of the EAIM 2009! The software bundle has also been repositioned so that every EAIM 2009 purchase recieves an ERDAS APOLLO Server 2009 as well to provide Enterprise Vector Service Enabling (WMS, WFS-T).

In addition, two major wins for the EAIM 2009 coinciding with this release, both with direct head-to-head evaluations with the competitor!

1. The British Transport Police
2. 3001

If you have large volumes of raster data that you need to server to multiple GIS/Remote Sensing/Web/Open Source clients, you need to check this out!

Just to bullet one particular feature in this release, I'm VERY happy with the Defense Formats for EAIM 2009! NITF and TFRD with RPC's or Defense Sensor Models, NO PROBLEM! The EAIM will catalog this imagery, utilize the related terrain source to perform "ortho-on-the-fly" and deliver GIS ready imagery for real time access through WMS and WCS and also available for download as orthorectified imagery through the Clip, Zip and Ship web based workflow. DTED, CADRG, ADRG, CIB all supported. AWSOME!

The EAIM 2009 is the most comprehensive gridded data server in the world! The EAIM will deliver data in any protocol you require:

1. WMS
2. WCS
5. Out-of-Band

You have to see the WebEx presentations scheduled for October!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

ERDAS Apollo Image Manager 2009

There is so much NEW in this August 2008 version...EVEN THE NAME! The Leica Image Manager has now been renamed to the ERDAS Apollo Image Manager 2009! We have also "synched" our version numbers with our flagship application ERDAS IMAGINE to v.9.3.

This version marks a MAJOR milestone in the ERDAS Apollo Enterprise Software Suite. the EAIM 2009 is a true vertical market solution developed on the Apollo Enterprise SDK (release Feb 09) and now comes with the Apollo Platform, a full vector management and OGC Web Services Platform!!!! Not only manage imagery, but manage vectors from disperate data sources, create, style and publish WMS, WFS, WCS services and catalog them in the NEW Apollo Catalog.

The BETA Release has been announced today! Get your BETA ON!

Whats New?

1. An end-to-end WEB BASED Clip, Zip and Ship Workflow
2. JPIP SERVER!!!! Integrated with the EAIM 2009 Data model and WEB SDK through the ERDAS Web Plugins. Who's ready for web based JPIP!!!
2. NITF 2.1 support (with commercial and defense RPC sensor model support and Defense Sensor Models with the Defense Productivity Module)!!!!
3. Defense format support - DOD Metadata support, CIB, ADRG, CADRG, USRP Direct Read and custom GI Crawler behaviors
4. MORE Data Model enhancements (see EAIM 2009, Modeling Gridded Data Whitepaper)
5. New Styplized Web Client
6. Apollo Platform Product included out of the box!
7. Performance Enhancements
8. Single FlexNET Licensing for all ERDAS Software

I'm really excited about this version and getting it released to the market. Grab onto your seats folks and get ready for the ERDAS Enterprise Software Suite!!!

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Open Source Business Model

In the GI "interoperability" domain, the "chatter" regarding open source softwares really interests me. I've had the opportunity to develop upon and deliver solutions with both open source projects and commercial products.

The geospatial open source community has had success. I attribute a couple of phenomena for this:

1. Early adoption of interoperability standards and availability of functional software in the Open Source community (they were there first)
2. Slow adoption of interoperability standards by "known" software vendors (wait and see approach)
3. Mandated interoperability requirements for "government" entities (US and Europe require it now, but how?)
4. Early "success" for limited use cases in prototypes with open source softwares
5. Good "marketing" jargon

The open source communities have really done a good job at targeting and developing the "basic" GI requirements. The open source community provides a good "cartoon web map" experience, several 2.5 D globe viewers and there are some good SDK's as well, GeoTools, GDAL and PostGIS.

"Behind the scenes", there is undoubtedly a business model behind open source software...don't believe the philanthropy when you here that there isn't. The main contributors of open source software make money, unfortuantely, it' s the only means of existence in the industrial world.

So what is the Open Source Business Model? It's both services and the traditional software product model.

Service Model - with the very limited use cases available in open source, any adopter of open source must "develop" their requirements through customizations, extensions and integration with other systems. To what extent this is required is dependent on the complexity of the use case. Support for the product falls into this category as well. Taking an average developer rate of $70 x 8 hrs x 5 days = $2800/week. There's always some level of Project Management that is required as well in contracting that is traditionally "billable".

Software Product Model - again, with the limited use cases available in open source, the contributors to the project can be directly contracted to develop features. The contributor will collect the requirement and develop the capability "direct" into the open source project and delivery it. Many of the "heavy" requirements are done in this mode.

The commitment from commercial vendors to the interoperability standards has arrived, so point #2 is becoming rather a mute point.

There's a saying that really suites the current scenario..."you get what you pay for". There's a stability, reliability, quality, performance, documentation, feature velocity and progression that are inherently required of all commercial products. If you spent money on it, you expect it to work well, fast and progress with future releases. Most customers also require a long term commitment and vision with the product that assures them that it is going in the direction that meets future needs as well.

There's also an economy of scale issue here. You can produce cartoon maps in a 'free' database today and it's only going to cost 15k for the services....great, but what about tomorrow and where will that implementation be in 2 years? Are you sure that open source project will be around in 5 years? Most open source projects are extremely "fragile" because they are "driven" by a small critical core of contributors that essentially 'manage' the project.

There's undoubtedly pushback to many open source projects in Enterprise deployments from IT. They are traditionally difficult to get "approved" by IT groups. IT likes to see proven, well established products that have references, case studies and a track record before they approve it themselves. They also require "accountability" and a formal channel for support and bug fixes. IT is a primary stakeholder and a huge contributor to the decision making process for enterprise software. This again leads us into the discussion of Brand Equity.

In the end, the decision is more than pure economics, it's about meeting the users needs (today and thinking about tomorrow), having confidence that the "product" will work and be there for you in the future.

ERDAS Videos

Here is some great ERDAS videos (Thanks Erin!!)

Introducing the New ERDAS

ERDAS Product Demonstration: Part 1

ERDAS Product Demonstration: Part 2


Thanks to all who attended the ERDAS Image Manger Webinar "Fast: Catalog and Deliver Terrabytes of Imagery". I've had several requests for the Powerpoint Presentation. I've made it publicly available here:

FAST! Catalog and Deliver Terrabytes of Imagery Powerpoint

Here is the schedule of webinars that will be provided in the coming weeks:

Schedule of ERDAS Webinars

Sunday, May 18, 2008

ERDAS Image Manager WCS

I'd like to present the utility and feature "highlights" of the ERDAS Image Manager Web Coverage Service (WCS). For proper delivery to image exploitation clients, the Image Manager has the requirement to deliver the original pixel values and bit depth of gridded data to client applications for analysis. A WMS provides a "portrayed" map of the gridded data, so it effectively stylizes and delivers an "encoded" image focuses at a visualization experience for the user, so the pixel values are "changed", as well as the bit depth.

An example Image Analysts goal would be to "calculate NDVI for a user specified area".

The Lieca Image Manager functionally works just like a WMS, it has a "GETCAPABILITIES" request and it lists the aggregates of data based on the username/password that has requested the capabilities document. The difference is that for the GET requests, the WCS will deliver the raw pixels of the gridded data in the client specified encoding format.

For example, I can have modeled 50 LANDSAT image scenes with coverage over the southeast US into a single "South East US" aggregate and exposed as a single WCS layer. The aggregates extent will be the union of all the 50 LANDSAT scene extents. With the WCS, I can request any extent, spatial reference system, resolution, number of bands and encoding format for the aggregate. A sample use case would be to request the extent for Atlanta, GA in WGS84, bands 4,3 (for NDVI calculation), at 1:1 (full resolution) and in GeoTIFF format.

The WCS will perform "mosaic on the fly" for the extent requested, reproject the data if required and "encode" and deliver the data through the WCS! As a user, there is no need to have knowledge about the imagery that composes the aggregate and how the aggregate is composed, you simply only need to know where you want to create information products!

IMAGINE will manage the WCS just like any other image format supported, so the use of the WCS is "seamless" in the client. As a user, I simply have to go to the area and produce the NDVI product wherever and whenever I want. I don't have to know anything about the data, just where I want to product products.

So how is this benificial?

1. Increase productivity by centralizing and aggregating gridded data access through web services
2. Only provide imagery to people who have been given the rights to access the data (security!)
3. Streamline the workflow for generating data products that cover possibly many gridded datasets
4. Area based product production, rather than file based
5. Deliver pixels in any parameter combination (extent, SRS, resolution, format and band combination)
6. INTEROPERABLE!!!! Deliver pixels to any WCS client!

Friday, May 9, 2008

ERDAS Image Manager 1.0.1 Service Pack RELEASED!!!

It's official! The ERDAS Image Manager 1.0.1 has been released! This Service Pack addresses several bugs as well as adds some minor feature enhancements to support ongoing project work. The EIM Demo Server has also been upgraded to this version to support our web service evaluations and support of our international sales teams.

Get your evaluation username/passwords today folks!!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

ERDAS Image Manager Online DEMO Server

We have officially brought online our public access demo server. The server will be hosted out of our US Corporate Headquarters in Norcross, GA.

Here's the link:

EIM Demo Server

The server has been globally tested by our channels and everything is working GREAT! We've successfully performed real world scenario demo's in England, Germany, Holland, Australia and India from the site.

Please request a username and password from me to gain evaluation access to the web services and mapping web client. We also will provide temporary data hosting for potential customer up to 1/2 Terrabyte for evaluation purposes, so lets coordinate and disseminate interoperably!

Look forward to your use!


The Leica Image Manager will officially be renamed to the "ERDAS Image Manager"! Please visit our new website at

We will not "officially" rebrand the product face until version 2.0 in August, so the application home web page and Web Mapping Client provided out of the box will still contain the "Leica Image Manager" title.

I have "officially" renamed the blog today as well as the content to reflect the name change.

Here comes ERDAS my friends!!!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Agile Software Devlopment Methodology - The Sprint

I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about the benefit of sprints (or iterations) in the Agile Software Development Methodology...not from a developer perspective, but from a Product Management perspective. Our team sprints are 2 weeks. This means that we analyze the priority of features, estimate user stories based on their feature priority and task the team with two weeks worth of "work" to achieve a user experience by the end of the sprint.

The best feature that I like about sprint is the ability to "change gears" every two weeks! Any enterprise product needs the ability to support project work and meet high priority features for clients to "capture the sell". As the Product Manager, I'm the person with "boots on the ground". I get to talk directly with clients, sales teams and distributors to hear their requirements of the software. Although it's impossible to make every feature request a priority, it is within the methodology to change the priorities (every two weeks) to allow the software to demonstrate a feature that is a time critical request for a client.

There is a fine line that must be walked don't want to impact the top priority features for a release, but there is plenty of room to achieve "quick wins" with existing large clients and prospective future clients.

The sprint allows me to reprioritize a "quick win" feature request to fit within the sprint and provide a thin line user experience to allow demonstration of the feature in 2 weeks.

Clients (and sales staff) really like to see their feature requests being demonstrated in two weeks! It demonstrates that we really develop the software for the client to meet their business needs and allows us to be "responsive" to cash flow potential. The interesting phenomena is that most of the time, the client is usually fine with the feature being "productized" and completed by the scheduled release date! By simply demonstrating that we are responsive to their needs shows a commitment to solving their business problems.

The sprint is also a great thermometer for measuring progress. At the end of every two weeks, I get to calculate the velocity of the team that accounts for the number of bugs resolved and the number of user stories estimated and completed in the sprint. It gives us a continuous monitor on our ability to estimate features, our ability to rapidly address bugs and the ability to complete user facing features. Analysis of velocity allows us to continuously evaluate the planned feature set for the release to effectively manage resources, money and time!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Brand Equity

There are many open source and "small" software companies that provide OGC web services. I get asked a lot of questions about how our product "measures up" against many of them. 100% of the time, none of the open source or small software company offerings meet the requirements of the prospective client or provide a level of confidence that they will ever provide the capability.

Open source offerings are mainly pitched by services companies. These projects provide a lot of "opportunity" for services companies because they require so much customization to meet client needs. This customization provides the opportunity to become "locked in" long term to continue to provide "features" for clients. It's interesting how many service companies are also "technical advisors" for many government agencies, even very large ones.

Small software companies have "niche" market technologies. For instance, they provide web service layers on top of spatial feature database storage. I see success with feature editing through WFS-T for some small organizations. They usually have a very "narrow" feature set, but a market differentiating capability. Most are looking to be "gobbled" up (bought).

The problem for most open source or small company offerings is the inability to provide confidence or the ability to commit to the capablility of supporting the scale of implementations of large customers. They also fail to provide the support required of large production companies, the ability to commit to them.

All of the offerings fail to handle the quantity of data and the load required for large organizations in a production environment. They are currently filling "small" organization requirements, or are in large organizations at a small scale. Step up to 500TB and 1500 concurrent users!

For the Leica Image Manager, it's relatively easy to differentiate ourselves in that Leica is the market leader in imagery. There is no question that we dominate the imagery market, provide end to end imagery production and dissemination systems in large scale production environments. We write and manage gridded data accessors (we don't rely on open source for our imagery support or another company). We handle any type of gridded data that you may have (over 160 image formats supported by Leica software), any sensor model and any workflow. We have great BRAND EQUITY. This means a lot to an enterprise when they are going to invest into software. They trust that you have the capabilities to handle thier data, the quantity of data that they need to handle and the support that they will need. They also are confident that next year, the product will still be around, being improved with new features and be on the forefront of handling new sensors, formats and technologies that are occuring in the market. Never underestimate the power of the brand.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Technical Training

Please excuse my tardy post...I have been extremely busy catching up on my Product Management duties since my trip to Atlanta for the Technical Training Week.

Leica Geosystems provides world class training for staff, distributors and business partners. There were two major tracts; Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry and Enterprise Products. The Leica Image Manager was a day and a half course with 60 attendees.

Course Agenda:

1. Intro to the Leica Image Manager
2. Pre-requisite setup, Installation and Configuration
3. Post Installation Tuning
4. Use Cases - Data Manager, Web Client, IMAGINE and "other" clients

The highlight is of course allowing all 60 users use the server simultaneously with any client! It's great to see the server perform so well, we could have handled many, many more usmosaicers!

We used IMAGINE (WMS, WCS Image Formats), ArcMap, UDIG, Open Layers, Gaia, UDig, ArcExplorer and more!

Here's some common misconceptions from the class that are important to point out:

Misconception 1: The Leica Image Manager is a tile server.

This is absolutely and unequivocally false! The Leica Image Manager does not "burn" tiles at any time for any purpose. We utilize the source imagery to produce portrayed maps on the fly! We'll read, mosaic, reproject and portray the data..."on the fly"!

Misconception 2: The Leica Image Manager takes a lot of Image Pre-processing

Again...false! There is no pre-processing required for your data. We support any number of bands, band combinations and pixel depth (true 16 bit). We utilize the data "early" in the image processing chain and can provide map quality imagery on demand.

Misconception 3: OGC Web Services are slow.

Again...unequivocally false! Our performance testing framework simulates a ramp up 50 users making simultaneous WMS requests (make another WMS request immediately after validating the WMS response) and averages 2 sec/request on a two core CPU server!!!! We really challenged the class to "load" the server in the class with 60 users and the server performed flawlessly. Thats with large map dimension requests and any client!

The class went good, I learned a lot in the other sessions and it was a great week.

Look forward to the Leica Image Manager Public Server to come on line early next week. Get ready to test the server yourself early next week from a public server. Get your username/password assigned request in today!!!!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Enterprise Software

I hear the term "enterprise software" used extremely "loose" in the geospatial software market. Now to elude to the term not being used "correctly"...I'm forced to define "what is enterprise software".

Here is a stab at "enterprise software" on wikipedia. I love wikipedia, but that reading is "wikidiculous". "Enterprise Software" is not defined by "solving" an enterprise (entire business level) problem, that would allow almost any software be enterprise. All business units need to "compress" files to make them smaller for distributing them in e-mail...does that make WinZip an "enterprise software"?

There are lots of search engine permutations that you can attempt to find information on "enterprise", "enterprise computing", "enterprise requirements", "what is enterprise"...all leading to a dead end of NO DEFINITION. Its strange that we can probably name 5 enterprise class softwares off the top of our head (I would say Oracle, SAP, E-Bay, Google, and of course, the Leica Image Manager). What "separates" these softwares from the non enterprise class?

...lets start with defining "properties" of enterprise software so we can come up with a "Websters-like" Dictionary definition.

1. Collaborative - all enterprise softwares are multi-user by design. The architecture must support many concurrent user connections and the ability to process each individual users requested as a single transactional unit. This multi user ability allows the users as a whole to collaborate on a single system.

2. Security - all enterprise softwares have security, it is inherent in supporting many concurrent users. In general, if you don't log into it, it's probably not an enterprise software. We can argue public web services and their classification as "enterprise", but we'll get to that later.

3. Scalable - all enterprise system are scalable, meaning they have the ability to increase or decrease with the demand on the system. There are IT standards that define "scalability" as well. You probably hear the words real application clusters (RAC) or GRID or High Performance Computing (HPC). IT wants to use clearly defined and market accepted scalability techniques, meaning if you design your own "scalability", your trying to make something enterprise that is not meant to be.

4. Compatible - Enterprise systems must be compatible with many IT standards in today environments. Operating systems, databases, hardware configurations, virtualization, transport protocols (TCP, IPv6, etc), web protocols, etc., etc. They must also pass some criteria of being "modern" in terms of support development languages and customization techniques (nobody buys COBALT or COM solutions anymore). So enterprise system have an architecture that supports deployment on any type of "server".

5. Standards - Enterprise software must be build on standards, not only IT standards, but in the geospatial market, ISO interoperability standards and OGC application profile standards. It is these standards that standardize the data into something "usable" by other systems (not a stovepipe) and enable any business system who want to consume GI with standard interpretable services and data without the requirement to deploy massive SDK's and middleware.

So lets collate our findings:

Enterprise Software is secure and collaborative software, scalable with IT standard technologies, compatible with IT standard technologies.

A good exercise is to look at your software and see if it "fits" into this definintion!

Request Use Case Demonstrations!

As a means of disseminating use cases and product demos, I will create flash videos of product demos on demand! Please just request the feature that you would like to see demonstrated, and I'll post a flash video of that feature at work!

I will additionally be posting common use cases of the product frequently, so visit often!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Introduction to the Leica Image Manager: the Business Problems...

The Leica Image Manager is an Enterprise Class software developed to solve the business problems associated with managing massive volumes of Geospatial Information (GI); with and emphasis on imagery and terrain data.

If your a business that manages large amounts of imagery or terrain or have distributed offices and complex workflows for managing this data type, the Leica Image Manager has been built for you!

Before I explain the "features" of the product and how they work, I'd like to present the business problems that are addressed by the Leica Image Manager. A business problem in this presentation is defined as any situation that constrains a user or scenario that prevents a user from accomplishing their goal in a timely manner.

1. The Data (overwhelmed) - Gridded data sources have unique business problems inherit in the digital modeling and persistence this data type. First and foremost, the data is physically massive in size compared to traditional business data. An ADS40 sensor collects 1TB of data an hour (and thats just the raw data). This phenomena of the data creates large storage requirement and application throughput requirements. This "large data" phenomena puts a high load on the system for each constituent user added to the system. Secondly, the sheer number of imagery formats is high; each proprietary in nature. The user may not have access to a geospatial application that supports the format of imagery acquired or the ability to create the data format requested of a customer. Finally, imagery and terrain data is workflow or application specific requiring a "geospatial expert" to provide the domain knowledge to produce the requested end product or "setup" the user with the capability to produce the end product.

2. The Search (where) - The volume of images and terrain datasets is massive, causing the number of datasets to be very high. The number of imagery and terrain "files" that may cover a given area may be in the thousands...tens of thousands depending on the resolution. Additionally, the data may be spread throughout the organization in databases, storage area networks and other proprietary storage mechanisms. This prevents the end user from understanding what data exists and where the data exists, or have the means to determine which data is the "best" for what they want to accomplish. If users can't easily access the data, they simply won't use it.

3. Lack of Interoperability (can't) - The proprietary and application specific nature of GI has limited the ability of organizations to share data internally and externally. This inability to share forces time consuming processes to convert data into "formats" usable by the customer. This barrier has prevented the free flowing of data throughout the business and external to customers and has "isolated" GI to a boutique skill, rather than readily accessible, easy to use and easy to integrate business data.

4. Security - although geospatial data is business critical data for most enterprises, there is an inherit lack of a standard security model in it's access and distribution. This is more apparent as the number of data sources increase and volume of data increases. The ability to secure the data becomes extremely complex just in terms of traditional data access security. This is further complicated with a requirement to extend security with spatial security features (user 1 can only see this area, or can not see this area).

5. Domain Knowledge - The requirement for some level of domain knowledge to exploit GI is required in todays application specific workflows of GI. Most organizations have some in-house GIS or Remote Sensing Department or user group. These geospatial professionals are the proxy to request and receive meaningful GI. Understanding geospatial principles should NOT be a requirement to using a GI as a business critical data product.

All of the problems stated above prohibit the GI from being a traditional business data source, free flowing throughout the enterprise, easily integrated into business logic applications and securely accessed by the business and the customers.

Welcome to the next generation of Enterprise Geospatial products.

Find, Describe, Catalog, Discover, Exploit Geospatial Information (GI)


Welcome to my Leica Image Manager Product blog!

With the release of the Leica Image Manager 1.0 last week came a deluge of information requests about the product. What is it? How does it work? What data? How much?...

Rather than handle this on a case by case basis, I will be posting product information to this blog. It will serve as an official location for "authoritative" information on the product and a way for the community to contact me directly with questions about the product.

So welcome to my blog and introduce yourself to the Leica Image Manager!