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!!!!