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!