August 09, 2010
Introducing ERDAS APOLLO on the Cloud
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News
Introducing ERDAS APOLLO on the Cloud
By Susan Smith

ERDAS recently announced ERDAS APOLLO on the Cloud, a fully-loaded package that includes everything needed to run the APOLLO solution on the cloud, including all necessary software licensing, servers, data storage and bandwidth.

ERDAS, owned by Hexagon AB (the company that recently announced acquisition of Intergraph) offers APOLLO on the Cloud, which gives customers the option to deploy the same data management and content delivery features of ERDAS APOLLO Professional in the form of a monthly subscription service.

CEO of ERDAS, Joel Campbell, said that “the ERDAS Cloud model mirrors in that there is a fully functioning system that is configurable to meet your unique business needs.”

“What we try to do is take our APOLLO product, a really robust geospatial server, data cataloging, data management, data serving product and put it onto a hardware platform with the other software required - web servers, databases, etc. and make it configurable so customers just need to configure and bring their data to it. Subscription is available on a monthly basis,” said Campbell.

Included in the basic package for ERDAS APOLLO on the Cloud is a monthly subscription to fully utilize ERDAS APOLLO software pre-configured and hosted on Skygone Cloud. This includes:

Deployment of ERDAS APOLLO Professional
  • On a 4-core Windows 2003 R2, 64-bit Data Center edition operation system
  • 16 GB RAM
  • PostgreSQL 8.3 database
  • 1 TB of storage
  • 2 TB of bandwidth
  • Assisted data upload service, free up to 4 times per year with Skygone Data Import/Export Service
  • Technical support
  • No additional maintenance fees

The monthly subscription is pay-as-you-go, and is currently limited to U.S. customers. Upgrades include scaling, computing power, data storage and bandwidth.

When asked if people are interested in using the Cloud as an adjunct to APOLLO Professional as a way to extend the desktop, Campbell replied:

“I think it's more of an 'instead of,' rather than 'in addition to.' What we've noticed in market space for geospatial serving technology, is there's a level of expertise that's required - IT expertise, there's a commitment to hardware and software that's required that's not typical in your GIS implementation and there's a level of information technology - database software, middleware for web serving etc. We've noticed in a lot of organizations that our customers have a genuine interest in having that kind of serving technology but they don't have access to that level of resource. They don't have these IT departments and racks of servers laying around.”

Most people upgrade their hardware and software on a three year cycle, said Campbell. ERDAS makes an equivalent offering with the Cloud - you would spend the same or less money in three years and have access to the Cloud instead of owning hardware and software that become outdated.

Besides eliminating the need for in-house hardware and IT staff, the APOLLO Cloud product provides shared infrastructure costs and low management overhead, and with a pre-configured, monthly package, there are no surprise costs to ownership. Users can cancel at any time. Also ERDAS APOLLO operations can be scaled easily when users need to without capital expenditures. APOLLO on the Cloud supports a wide variety of data formats.

For those unfamiliar with Skygone Cloud, the company offers a robust and flexible IT environment purpose-built by GIS professionals. Skygone offers a one-stop shop for deployment, configuration and services, and offer custom application and data services. Deployment is simple and fast.

“Skygone Cloud technologies have a completely secure data center, secure in both the physical sense and the computerized sense: their hardware is secure from hackers, and has protective firewalls, etc. Each user has their own secure and independent access to their data and their implementation of APOLLO; they can choose to publish things as publicly available web services or they could choose to credential and require people to have login user name and password,” said Campbell.

“If you think of a small local government who just wanted to put their parcels on the internet so people would stop coming to their office to look up parcel IDs, they could publish something like that through the cloud and make it publicly available for anyone to access,” Campbell added.

Other use cases include mapping contractors or engineering companies who do 3 to 9 month projects for customers. They might need data up and available for the duration of their project but after that they don't need it anymore - “so this gives them an ability to pay for it by the month, and put it up. When their project ends, the service also ends with no additional cost,” Campbell pointed out.

Imagery datasets and collection can be securely catalogued and organized in the hierarchal structure. Users can also catalog and serve custom objects (documents, pictures, movies, URLs, any file) and any third-party OGC compliant services with ERDAS APOLLO.

One of the strengths of the traditional APOLLO product is the catalog with crawlers that can find all the relevant geospatial data in your internal network and present that in a catalog form so you know what you have and where it was. “In the cloud implementation, obviously that catalog will be limited to what data you have uploaded into the cloud, it won't catalog everything on your internal network, for example, but if you push a terabyte's worth of your geospatial data into the cloud then as part of that catalog service it can catalog everything you have and present it to you. From that catalog you can choose to make map views or map contexts and symbolize them.”

For those who want to transfer their data into the Cloud, they can transfer files over FTP, RDP or other supported protocol directly to their APOLLO on the Cloud. To speed up transfer of data larger than 50-100 GB, there is the option of using the Skygone Data Import/Export Service to arrange the physical transfer of data to APOLLO on the Cloud instance from hard drives that are shipped to Skygone. This data transfer is free up to four times a year, and from there on a fee is charged.

In performance tests on the cloud using the basic package, the maximum number of concurrent users that achieved an acceptable mapping experience for the system was 250.

For those who already have an ERDAS APOLLO license, they should contact their ERDAS sales representative to make arrangements to transfer their ERDAS APOLLO license to Skygone Cloud.

Top News of the Week

GIS Solutions, Inc. was selected by the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) to complete a contract for GIS technical services and NAVTEQ map data for the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics (RITA/BTS).

NAVTEQ announced a private beta program to preview NAVTEQ JourneyView, in preparation for general availability of the product in early 2011. In the private beta, customers will have the opportunity to preview the data and provide feedback that will ultimately influence final product specifications.

The private beta program provides customers access to the NAVTEQ JourneyView product, including sample source imagery, image overlays, 3D depth maps and POI interface, as well as technical support to assist them in maximizing the product's full potential.

Acquisitions, Agreements, Alliances

Hitachi Software Engineering Co. Ltd (HitachiSoft), and TerraGo Technologies have formed a strategic alliance and signed a Master Distributor Agreement under which HitachiSoft resells TerraGo software throughout Asia. Under the terms of the agreement, HitachiSoft now markets via its direct and indirect sales organizations TerraGo Publisher, TerraGo Composer, TerraGo Toolbar, and TerraGo Mobile applications that create and interact with GeoPDF maps and imagery. Under an additional agreement, HitachiSoft has made a strategic investment in TerraGo, and the two companies are jointly developing localized versions of TerraGo software for Asian customers, beginning with a Japanese language version.

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-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.


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