Pulusani presented her remarks on Emerging Trends adn Strategic
Directions early in the day. I followed up on some of her points and
some issues raised on the Web recently.
I started out noting that the "open" discussion had been
rekindled on a GIS message board recently. I suggested that
"open" was finding new meanings in 2001. Pulusani agreed. Her
definition of "open": not having an Intergraph format. Instead,
she feels, it means using data in it's native format or in a standard
database. "That provides users with more options." As she put
it, "choosing between Oracle and SQL Server is a better choice than
choosing between ArcInfo format and MGE format." She also noted that
"open" now means not only working with other GIS formats, but
with other business apps. In a sense, then we are opening ourselves to
mainstream IT. XML and GML will allow that type of open access.
XML and GML came up later in the context of Intergraph's plans for
supporting Open GIS specifications. The plan is for the Web Server
products (GeoMedia Web Map and Web Map enterprise) to act as servers with
the desktop products (GeoMedia and GeoMedia pro) acting as clients.
Intergraph already support WMS (Web Map Server spec) and is anxious to
support WFS (Web Feature Server), a vector solution for the Web.
I asked about the choice of storing data in a database vs in it native
format. Pulusani noted several pluses for the database: cost
effectiveness, the ability to share in a standard format, access to
database transactions and other database provided tools. Besides, she
argues, most customers already have IT expertise and a relationship with a
database vendor. Finally she notes that middleware is something that she
"doesn't understand." She questions the wisdom of a
"layer" that prevents one from accessing data and notes that if
a user does "get around" the "police baracade" of the
middleware, he or she is likely to do damage to the data. In short, it's
just not that open.
Presentations this morning mentioned Intergraph's Digital Cartography
Suite, DCS, and noted that it works with both MGE and GeoMedia for map
production, symbolization and other needs of mapping agencies. Since MGE
is used for much of this work, I asked if supporting GeoMedia provided an
"out" should MGE not continue to serve user needs. Pulusani was
frank that the company was evaluating MicroStation 8 and determining a
path for MGE. DCS could provide a solution should MGE take a long time or
simply not materialize.
In the technology session this morning the presenter explained that
some of the newer vertical applications, like GeoMedia Public Service,
were available for "projects." That I learned means that the
product is not yet certified, but if a client needs a solution, Intergraph
will use the new technology and insure it solves the specific need, though
the rest of the product may not be fully functional. "For 'project'
software is between beta and release" Pulusani explained. GeoMedia
Public Service is currently in use this way in Winnepeg and provides key
early input to engineers.
Intergraph seems to be tightening up its Mapping/GIS message,
clarifying product positioning, and aggressively staking its claim by
serving its users.