GISWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Top News of the Week, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Financials, People, New Products, and Events Calendar.
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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Autodesk World Press Day 2007 – Geospatial Report
by Susan Smith
Autodesk World Press Day 2007 held at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco was characterized by a few changes, namely that the industry divisions have been restructured (all but manufacturing) and vps reassigned. Former vice president of the Infrastructure Solutions Division (ISD), Chris Bradshaw, has now taken the helm as vice president Worldwide Marketing. Amar Hanspal, formerly vice president of the Autodesk Collaboration Services Division, is now vice president of Platform Geospatial and Plant (PG&P), responsible for AutoCAD, AutoCAD LT, mapping and GIS, and plant and process products. Where once civil engineering was under the purview of Chris Bradshaw in ISD, Jay Bhatt has become vice president of Architectural, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Solutions and is responsible for civil engineering products as well as AEC products such as Revit and Architectural Desktop (now named Autodesk Architecture).
CEO and president of Autodesk, Carl Bass, began with the usual discussion of how successful the company has been. He noted that it’s difficult for a company to hit the 1 billion dollar mark and stay there, and it took Autodesk 20 years to get to the 1 billion mark and in the last four years they have added another billion. They have quadrupled their operating margin or budget.
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Autodesk also claims 24.1 % growth in GIS. In speaking with Don Weigel of PG&P in a later interview, it would appear that this is an estimate on their part, as the company is still trying to shake out just who their usership is and what product sales are specifically GIS, or can be attributed to other products such as AutoCAD. One thing to keep in mind is that Autodesk is not serving the entire GIS market, but has targeted only certain segments of it.
“We define GIS differently than our competitors, with an eye to engineering. Engineering GIS’ is meant for specific markets such as utilities, communications, public works, with a focus on the intersection of design and GIS,” said Hanspal.
The message was not so much about individual products, as about how customers can move from engineering to GIS, using the existing products for their migration path. Map 3D 2008 will be released in March along with some of the other Autodesk products, but Open Source solutions will be released later in the year.
Hanspal talked about Autodesk’s plans to “democratize GIS,” making it possible for potential customers to make an investment in the technology of “no more than $7,000” as Autodesk keeps busy “making GIS digestible to a lot of people.”
“Affordable, accessible, and digestible” was a phrase I heard a couple of times. The GIS offering is most likely a response to those AutoCAD users who may need to use GIS every so often and don’t need a full-blown, deeply analytical GIS to manage their data.
Interoperability and integration could also be at the heart of Autodesk’s approach to this new platform, geospatial and plant division. In its effort to make all Autodesk products all things to all people, hopefully this will not have a dilutive effect on the products in that space, and simply be a move to bring AutoCAD users into the realm of GIS and plant.
Hanspal pointed out that many vector maps are already created in AutoCAD. “The people who have the most affinity for Autodesk Geospatial solutions are generally coming from an engineering background.” He envisions CAD and GIS integration as “one single enterprise workflow.” CAD and GIS integration and GIS engineering are not new concepts. They have been tried before, with varied success. Autodesk has some other interesting geospatial stuff going on such as the Open Source and Feature Data Objects (FDO), and data access technology released to the Open Source community, which allows users to connect to a host of data sources.
“Our objective is to get people up the value chain from AutoCAD, to Map 3D and MapGuide and FDO data access technology,” Hanspal said.
A series of stages identify users: from Stage 1 as AutoCAD users to Stage 2 as AutoCAD mappers, in Stages 3 and 4 they can use MapGuide to publish their data. Stage 5 is about building geospatial applications using the Topobase Framework and Oracle.
Democratized Application Development
“GIS was an island in 1995,” declared Hanspal. “At present, it’s about data management and integration.”
Democratized application development begins with using MapGuide and Map 3D to consume data sources, which make it easier for software developers to develop solutions.
- cable & telecommunications
- water and wastewater
- engineering & construction
- network engineering
- asset management
- public works
- land management
Autodesk recognizes that data comes from many places, created by many different products, and “we’re not going to convert the world into our format,” noted Hanspal. “We want to preserve the value of customers’ data.” That’s why Autodesk has built their product line around the data, with the concept of Map3D built on top of AutoCAD as the starting point. MapGuide is the next stage for getting into geospatial publishing. FDO is a rich development framework for developing their own applications or Topobase applications. Map 3D and MapGuide work on top of Topobase.
What’s new in Map 3D 2008 –
- native access to CAD, GIS and raster data formats via FDO data access technology
- AutoCAD tools for precision editing of GIS data
- GIS tools for map creation and stylization
- Powerful, flexible and open data management tools
- Direct Web Publishing via Autodesk MapGuide technology and DWF file specification
- better performance
- better data access
- better data management
- better API