March 13, 2006
What the World Needs Now
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly! This time of year, Autodesk is in the news with its concurrent release of all its primary products, first of all the
AutoCAD 2007 release and for the geospatial industry, new versions of Map 3D and Civil 3D. Also in the news is Autodesk's announcement of a new version of
MapGuide Open Source Web Mapping software, originally dubbed MapServer Enterprise, available on the
MapGuide Open Source site, hosted by the Open Source Geospatial Foundation. Read about the latest news from Autodesk's Infrastructure Solutions Division (ISD) in this week's Industry News.

GISWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me

Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

What the World Needs Now

By Susan Smith

This time of year, Autodesk is in the news with its concurrent release of all its primary products, first of all the
AutoCAD 2007 release and for the geospatial industry, new versions of Map 3D and Civil 3D. Also in the news is Autodesk's announcement of a new version of
MapGuide Open Source Web Mapping software, originally dubbed MapServer Enterprise, available on the
MapGuide Open Source site, hosted by the Open Source Geospatial Foundation.

In a conversation with Chris Bradshaw, vice president of the Infrastructure Solutions Division (ISD), he discussed the success of Autodesk ISD over the past year, with the ISD growing its business approximately 21% over the previous year. Civil 3D earned the distinction of being the fastest selling product in the history of Autodesk. Map 3D also did very well and the open sourcing of the MapGuide technology was well received. Autodesk also acquired c-plan, a Swiss company, in 2005, that is very strong in the utility and local government space and brings infrastructure systems management to the ISD product line, which will be announced some time this year as Autodesk Topobase.

According to an IDC report, Autodesk is growing significantly faster than some of their bigger competitors, and has been cited as the fastest growing spatial information management company in the world.

Bradshaw said that the biggest hurdle with both Civil 3D and Map 3D continues to be helping customers switch from a non-model based environment into a model based environment and it has more to do with the operators of the software. Once they move beyond that, they realize more productivity gains than they thought were possible.

Key Global Trends

1) There are an increasing number of infrastructure projects all around the world, according to Bradshaw. In developed countries like the U.S., Japan, and Europe, the need is for refurbishment and renovation. In emerging markets, like China, India and Russia, there is a lot of new construction. Both emerging and developed markets increasingly recognize the need to have reliable and safe infrastructure, both for commerce, and competition (India and China are competing against each other to be the future power of Asia). They have terrible infrastructure and know that without strong infrastructure, they aren't going to be successful. To top it off, government is aware that insufficient or poor
infrastructure does not bode well for re-election. “We only have to look at Katrina to see how unhappy people have been and how the ripple effect of that dissatisfaction with infrastructure has reached from the people to the mayor to the president,” Bradshaw remarked.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), in their 2003 assessment, the U.S. got a D+ in 2003 and a D a year ago, highlighting the fact that the infrastructure is bad and getting worse in the U.S. The amount of money it would cost to fix it is measured in trillions of dollars, thus there is no shortage of work. Looking across the entire globe, the amount of work is almost doubling across all geographies and countries. This is good news in terms of future business, but….

2) At the same time a shortage of engineers makes it very difficult to meet the demands of the burgeoning number of projects. In 1998, about 1/3 of the workforce in the U.S. was 45 and older. In 2008 over ½ of the workforce will be 45 and older, “so either we have to ask them to work longer than they want to, or must figure out how to get more productive very quickly,” suggested Bradshaw.

“Now we are creating a deficit of around 500 engineers every year. Some of those seats have been filled through productivity gains, or through foreign nationals coming in. In every engineering firm I talk to around the world, they cannot come close to filling all their positions, and this extends to urban planning and other geospatial industries.”

3) The result of this dearth of engineers has fueled government agencies to outsource infrastructure management, design and construction etc., to private sector, and private utilities are also increasingly outsourcing different aspects of their business.

These three issues -- abundance of projects, shortage of engineers, and increase in government to outsourcing management -- are leading to private sector consolidation. Engineering firms are merging with one another to create firms that can expand their services so they can be multi-disciplinary and have global reach. They are moving out of design and construction and more into operate/manage where there are higher margins and they can be responsive to government to outsource their infrastructure systems.

“Over the last two years we have been looking at significant acquisition and consolidation,” said Bradshaw. This is happening across all industries, i.e., utilities, telecommunications, private industry, and construction.

Customers are asking to be able to attract, retain and increase the productivity of their people and the consolidated firms are being driven to require solutions that span all aspects of infrastructure management. This is where Autodesk can help. “We believe the answer is to provide a set of interoperable solutions that span all aspects of the infrastructure lifecycle,” Bradshaw noted.

Covering this gamut, Autodesk offers desktop, server solutions as well as hosted solutions. The company is a principal member of OGC, on the board of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation, and just announced the donation of MapGuide Open Source to that foundation. They are also a founding member of

The new MapGuide Open Source web mapping software provides for more frequent software releases, faster innovation and greater support for standards, according to Bradshaw. “We plan to offer our own commercial Autodesk version of our MapGuide product later in the year, but the most significant difference between the two will be that we stamp it and productize it. The functionality differences will be limited.”

Map 3D 2007 Demo

Still in pre-release software at this time, the user interface for Map 3D 2007 displays a “data connect” dialog box in this demo. Mark Christian, technical marketing manager for the product, explained that users can now connect to numerous datastores in Map 3D - MySQL, SQL Server, web based services, direct access to ESRI shapefiles, raster information, and the SDF file format. SDF is the data exchange mechanism between Civil 3D and Map 3D and also MapGuide Open Source and Enterprise.

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