Thursday, October 15, 2009

How Does ERDAS Support Open STANDARDS?

ERDAS expends a large effort to support Open Standards and in the end, interoperability with other software implementations that as well support open standards. We invest in the development and implementation of Open Standards because as an organization, we believe in our software products working seamlessly with any other geospatial package that exists on the market and providing our customers with a large variety of deployment and design options for geospatial solutions. We support open standards to additionally be a compelling and viable option in ANY geospatial system under design irregardless of an organizations existing systems "vendor". We also measure each component and feature we develop with any pertinent existing IT and Geospatial standard to ensure that we maintain a high degree of interoperability.

So "how" does ERDAS support Open Standards then?

We support the entire array of IT and Spatial Standards. On the IT side of the house, we support a variety of Operating Systems, credentials stores (LDAP, Active Directory, DB, etc), Application Servers, Databases, chip-sets and virtualization environments (both hardware and OS) and of course, industry web service standards of WSDL/SOAP/UDDI.

On the GeoSpatial side of things, we support the web mapping standard WMS, the gridded data delivery service of WCS, vector feature delivery service of WFS, open catalog service of CSW, map context WMC, WRS, URN, OWS common, Filter, on and on an on....

We also participate in the development of standards within the OGC standards body. There is a "cost" to participating in these standards development bodies of which ERDAS is more than willing to participate to ensure the standard meets our customers use cases and to bring to the table the wealth of industry proven "knowledge" to ensure the standards meet in the end, market needs.

Why support Open Standards?

We do this because it's important to our exiting customers and a market driving initiative in the geo-market space. We do it because the standards are becoming "mature" and capable to meet customer use cases (not just a prototype, actually used in a production environment). We also do it to proliferate the standards within the industry and prove the capabilities of the standards within extremely high volume, rapidly changing production environments.

Why point these facts out?

There's been quite a bit of "noise" superimposing Open Standards with "Open Source" that can be confusing to non-IT decision makers and a propensity of some open source pundits to raise an argument that "commercial"="proprietary"="vendor lockin"=an advantage to open source. This is definitely not the case in the market today, whereas ERDAS is not the only vendor ensuring a high degree of open standard support and interoperability.

This "noise" rises from the organization and productization of the disperate open source projects in the geo-space and to create competitive marketing against the existing commercial products. It is now officially a "vendor" option to customers. ERDAS stands firm in out position in the market and our capabilities to provide highly interoperable, entire end-to-end geospatial processing and analysis chains with market proven maturity and market leading segment to PROVE it.


Bart van den Eijnden said...

Sean, can you point to recent sources of the noise you describe? People messing up the difference between open source and open standards is IMHO a thing from a few years ago. I don't see anybody making that mistake any more these days.

In The Netherlands our government has created some rules for open standards and open source (NOIV). Open standards are comply or explain, and if open source and proprietary are equal, open source is the preferable solution.

Remember, ESRI also supports a lot of the open standards (again, this is not bashing, just pointing out something here), but still there is no easy way to get the symbology created with ArcMap out of the ESRI products, for instance into an open standard like Symbology Encoding. Hence, though supporting open standards, there is still vendor lockin IMHO.

Shawn Owston said...

Hi Bart. Thanks for the comment...

As a kind reminder, I spell my name "Shawn".

There are many initiatives to better manage government IT spending and to advance the procurement and evaluation procedures required of government agencies to "modern" IT procedures. The NOIV is a great initiative to drive "open" persistence, process and availability of data. Commercial products are not exempt from this capability!

Lets also not make the mistake of assuming all open source projects are created equally!! This must be evaluated on a "case by case" basis. It is a mistake to bucket all open source projects together.

In the "symbology" feature example you point out, you definitely highlighting a major deficiency in the STANDARDS that needs improving. The Style Layer Descriptor isn't the greatest for advanced cartographic portrayal of vector features. You are pointing out a case where commercial software really does a much better job with a much larger featureset.

I highly recommend some velocity in the SLD standard or a new standard to address this issue.

Bart van den Eijnden said...

Hi Shawn,

for the record NOIV does not address any data availability, maybe you are mixing it up with the European program called INSPIRE?

Sure the quality of open source projects highly varies. And ofcourse, evaluation is done for a specific project/piece of software compared to its proprietary equivalent(s).

I don't think we need yet another standard, Symbology Encoding is the standard to address this. I must admit the OGC is not moving as fast as I would want with some standards (but then again, I should just join the process if I want change). I guess it is mostly a resources issue since not much funding goes around in the OGC arena.