ISD Report from Autodesk University 2006
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ISD Report from Autodesk University 2006

Message from the Editor: ISD Report from Autodesk University 2006

Welcome to GISWeekly! This year's AU showcased the creativity of users and showed how various products could be used together, in some cases, using the same data, to solve real world problems. Read about what's going on in the Infrastructure Solutions Division in this week's Industry News.

For a full report on the Opening General Session at AU, please see this week's AECWeekly.

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, Contracts, People, New Products, Around the Web and Events Calendar.

GISWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me at giscafe-editor@IBSystems.com 

Best wishes,
Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News
ISD Report from Autodesk University 2006
by Susan Smith

This year's AU showcased the creativity of users and showed how various products could be used together, in some cases, using the same data, to solve real world problems. Nowhere was this more apparent than in a press conference with Jonathan Pickus, manager, AM/FM/GIS division, of the Las Vegas Valley Water District, J.R. Smith of the City of Tacoma and Chris Bradshaw, VP of the Infrastructure Solutions Division (ISD).

J.R. Smith of the City of Tacoma, said that in their organization, they are bringing CAD users to GIS using Autodesk Map. They moved to the Oracle database, enabling instant access through MapGuide on ESRI products. This is useful for occasional users as well as GIS technicians.

When asked what the key benefits of this system are, Smith recounted, "We're not just doing engineering records, we can leverage geospatial technologies also. We also have automated vehicle locations and customer relations using MapGuide applications."

"People can go to the portal and see information relevant to our business processes, and we have an integrated spatial store with our PeopleSoft database." Smith went on to add that customer service is one of the biggest users of their system, and that geospatial is now "involved in most aspects of the business."

Pickus said that what they wanted their system to be was "live but also coming alive." What he meant by that is that prior to having a portal, the organization talked vertically but not horizontally. "Now policemen can see the same information as the code enforcer," explained Pickus. "The community demanded demographics, housing information and other data, and the site came alive."

Just when a plateau is reached where certain services have been fulfilled, people ask for more. What would add value to the portal: asset management. "We have 42,000 miles of pipeline and we want to do forecast and protection, plan for expenses, create statistical models," said Pickus. "Our design doesn't yet support that. We're going through the analysis of how our database can support this."

Smith believes that 3D is a part of GIS that can be exploited in many different ways. An example is a railroad owned by the City of Tacoma runs from the city to Mount Rainier. The city would like to make it into a tourist attraction, which Smith said could be done by promoting the rail with 3D real-time visuals interfaced with MapGuide.

Pickus said that in their organization, people are using two or three systems. As engineers, they create all their own systems, including CRM. "We have such trust within the IT environment, and people are empowered using GIS technology," he said. "They don't know how much technology they're using."

Another benefit is that PeopleSoft has let Las Vegas Valley Water have access to their data model, and Hansen has also allowed access to their data model. PeopleSoft is a $30 million implementation, for which they use MapGuide to view it. "We built the field deployment for Hansen, and all logic is in the Hansen application," said Pickus. "We are able to respond to organizational needs because of trust. We have effectively broken down barriers between IT and GIS folks."

The implementation of Topobase has saved the company 20% in productivity, as they can now use the extra workforce for other tasks. Aimed at medium sized utilities and based on Oracle Spatial, Topobase allows users to edit data either thru Map or MapGuide, only writing the application once.  "Topobase has been a huge advancement for us," said Pickus. "It simplifies the issues of managing spatial information. We also built the interface between ArcSDE and Oracle as we didn't know which database we were going to use yet."

Bradshaw said that last year ISD brought in $175 million in revenue. The total ISD market is estimated at $2 billion worldwide. "A lot of that $2 billion is in fragmented, disparate organizations." Bradshaw pointed out that most organizations are at level 1 in their adoption rate, in spite of the fact that the Opening General Session examples depicted organizations using geospatial solutions at around level 4 or 5.

But even Bradshaw admits that these figures are sketchy because the lines are blurring between what is considered geospatial and what is not. Autodesk generally considers "infrastructure" to include geospatial, survey and civil. "CRM - is that geospatial?" queried Bradshaw. "Where do we draw the line? There is no consistent definition." It's unclear whether analysts such as IDC and Daratech include in their research revenue from Microsoft and Google, RFIDs and FM. Further, spatial data is becoming just another data type that IT must account for.

The positive side of all this is the growth toward using the same data to solve multiple problems. The iMOUT demonstration during the keynote highlighted the convergence of architectural, civil and geospatial technologies. A lot of technology was used to see inside the building, outside the building for geospatial and to go underground to see pipes. The demonstration made use of Revit, Civil 3D, Map 3D, all very sophisticated technology that could be made accessible to many in times of need.

Open Source

In a conversation with director of technology, Geoff Zeiss, he discussed Autodesk's Open Source strategy. MapGuide Open Source is based on Apache. "If there's one person who made Open Source happen, it's Gary Lang, VP of engineering for ISD. He is an agent of change and getting a bunch of software developers to change is a challenge."

People dealing with a closed vendor don't realize how Open Source changes the entire process of adding features to a project or product, said Zeiss. Open Source "dramatically empowers people to do customizations and they don't have to wait for a regular product cycle."

Where do you see Open Source going? "I think that there are some things Open Source is good at.  I think you have to have both models. There are people who believe it is the panacea for everything. My perspective is if you find a segment of IT that is being commoditized, that is good for Open Source."

The Apache Foundation was formed in 1995, by a group from the National Semiconductor Foundation. All the web servers were run by this group, who called themselves the Apache group because they were patching the Http server. IBM was faced with making the decision of whether to maintain their own web server or get something else.

Zeiss pointed out that there are well defined standards for what a web server does: http, and html. IBM was having difficulty differentiating itself from Sun or HP, so it made more sense to work out an arrangement with Apache and use their web server. IBM then agreed to use the web server, but asked that there be a legal organization formed for this purpose, and so formed the Apache Foundation. The Foundation's steering committee is comprised of numerous companies, and IBM has been shipping the Apache web server since.

Looking at commoditization, OGC, WFS, WMS and Google are close to commodity. MapServer, developed at the University of Minnesota, has half the world on its web server, according to Zeiss.

Web mapping is ripe for commoditization, according to Zeiss. "Autodesk donated MapGuide so MapGuide is a 2.0 web application. This is designed for people to edit spatial data with a web interface.  There are more of that kind of user than the kind that sit down to draft on AutoCAD, but there are a lot of people who need to edit spatial data." Autodesk's market strategy is that MapGuide can address potential non-CAD users. 45 million people use Autodesk products, and 8 million pay for it. Market development for Open Source is free. Zeiss pointed out that Red Hat is now worth $4.3 billion in services alone.

With Open Source, "Instead of getting money for licenses you get it from support and maintenance," said Zeiss. Instead of the upfront cost of buying a maintenance program with software from a vendor, customers can spread those costs over a lifetime of the project as maintenance and services, which reduces the risk of ownership. The plus is that you can download the software and use it for free.

On the other side of the coin, there are places where Open Source may not be appropriate.  Some people want a relationship with a company, which Open Source cannot offer. MapGuide and Autodesk Map Server fill the need by offering support and maintenance. With Open Source you can use your own developers to fix a problem. But that gap leaves an opportunity for commercial successes to be made using Open Source.

There are desktop CAD and GIS programs such as TerraVue and GRASS that are Open Source offerings, and have been around for a long time, yet don't get many takers. Why not, if it's free? "99 % of users don't want to roll up their sleeves and do the work in Open Source for GIS," Zeiss noted. "Your technical skills have to be high to do that. Open Source has not done a good job at usability."

Interesting global issues surround the adoption of Open Source. An example is Vietnam, a country that recently was accepted into the World Trade Organization. In order to qualify, they had to show progress against piracy. How to do that? They decided not to buy software, but to use Open Source instead. 

Top News of the Week

ESRI announced  the availability of ArcGIS 9.2, a significant release of ArcGIS that includes new productivity tools, data visualization and analysis capabilities, sophisticated cartographic tools, high-precision coordinate storage, and expanded support for standards.

GeoEye purchased high-bandwidth, high-performance compute technology from SGI. At the Dulles, VA, ground station for the new GeoEye-1 satellite, four SGI(R) Altix(R) systems were delivered during the first calendar quarter that will drive core satellite image processing for the .41-meter panchromatic (sensitive to all visible colors) and 1.65-meter multi-spectral (sensing and recording radiation from invisible as well as visible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum) imagery. w satellite will require 4X the processing power.

Alliances/Acquisitions/Agreements

Intergraph Corporation  announced the completion of the acquisition of Intergraph by an investor group led by Hellman & Friedman LLC and Texas Pacific Group.

Intergraph announced on August 31, 2006 a definitive agreement with the investor group regarding the acquisition of the Company in a transaction valued at approximately $1.3 billion. Under the terms of the agreement, Intergraph stockholders will receive $44.00 in cash, without interest, for each share of Intergraph common stock held.

Tele Atlas , a global provider of digital maps and dynamic content for navigation and location based solutions,  announced a license and distribution agreement with MapIT (Pty) Ltd., based in Pretoria, Republic of South-Africa. The agreement gives Tele Atlas full map coverage of South Africa and neighboring countries (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland) and puts Tele Atlas in the lead position in the region with maps covering the entire Southern region of the African continent.

SGI announced that EarthData International (EarthData), has purchased SGI(R) InfiniteStorage products to help EarthData increase the efficiency and cost effectiveness of producing high-resolution image and terrain maps for two separate GeoSAR radar mapping system projects, both on behalf of public sector customers.

ESRI announces that it has entered a strategic alliance with CG/LA Infrastructure LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based company dedicated to promoting and supporting infrastructure development in Latin America aimed at quadrupling the current level of investment for infrastructure development projects in the region.

Dash Navigation(TM), Inc.  announced that it has selected Tele Atlas, a leading global provider of digital maps and dynamic content for navigation and location based solutions, to supply digital map and Point-of-Interest (POI) data for the Dash Express(TM) navigation system. Through this relationship, Dash will use Tele Atlas' newly released MultiNet 2006.10 digital map development platform to tackle the chief complaint of existing GPS owners(1), out-of-date maps.

Announcements

Autodesk, Inc.  announced the Invest in Education Program, an initiative that connects companies with their local schools through the donation of software. Under this industry-leading program, when a company purchases five new seats of Autodesk Manufacturing software, they are able to grant a 25-seat classroom lab of Autodesk software to the post-secondary school of their choice. This grant, worth up to $25,000, is part of Autodesk's ongoing commitment to foster the next generation of engineers and designers.

Autodesk, Inc.  marked the one-year anniversary of the release of its MapGuide Open Source product and its feature data objects (FDO) source code. Over the past year, this web-mapping platform has gained traction among the geospatial developer community, which is now incorporating it into new and innovative spatial applications. The MapGuide Open Source community currently numbers over 600 members, and the source code has been downloaded more than 23,000 times. Additionally, the FDO source code has been downloaded 3000 times.

The Lockheed Martin GPS III team announced  the successful completion of a System Requirements Review (SRR) for the U.S. Air Force's next generation Global Positioning System Space Segment program, known as GPS Block III.

GPS Block III will enhance space-based navigation and performance and set a new world standard for positioning and timing services. The program will address the challenging military transformational and civil needs across the globe, including advanced anti-jam capabilities and improved system security, accuracy and reliability.

Financials

Autodesk, Inc.  reported record quarterly revenues of $457 million, an increase of 21 percent over the third quarter of fiscal 2006.

HP announced financial results for its fourth fiscal quarter ended Oct. 31, 2006, with net revenue of $24.6 billion, representing growth of 7% year-over-year, or 6% when adjusted for the effects of currency.

Contracts

Topcon Positioning Systems (TPS) has been awarded the world's first government Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) contract designed to harness signals from all current and planned positioning satellite systems - GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo (G3).

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) will begin using the world's first satellite reference network which will utilize more than 40 satellites currently operational. The total available satellite signals available for use will exceed 80 when all the Galileo satellites are in service, and system upgrades and additions to the GPS and GLONASS systems are completed.

People

Dean Merchant will be the next Honorary Member of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). His nomination was approved by the ASPRS Board of Directors at their recent meeting in San Antonio, Texas. The highest award an ASPRS member can receive, there are only 25 living Honorary Members of the Society at any given time. Candidates are chosen by a Nominating Committee made up of the past five recipients of the award and chaired by the most recent recipients. Robert H. Brock, Jr. and Roy R. Mullen served as this year's co-chairs.

New Products

ONStor  announced that Valtus Imagery Services, a high volume distributor of digital ortho-photography, has chosen the ONStor Pantera Clustered NAS as the primary storage environment for the company's library of aerial and satellite imagery. Utilizing ONStor's integrated virtualization and 8-way clustering capabilities, Valtus is able to continuously expand capacity and performance to accommodate growth expected to exceed 100% annually, at a cost 1/3 that of other NAS solutions.

Tele Atlas unveiled Tele Atlas MultiNet(TM) 2006.10 -- the next generation of its MultiNet global digital map database. This latest version of the company's comprehensive development platform for navigation and location based applications encompasses a complete street network vector database covering major and interconnecting roads, local streets and 650 million addresses in 51 countries. MultiNet 2006.10 also features the freshest, richest and most accurate digital map of North America ever produced.

ThinkGeo is pleased to announce the release of Render World 2.0, a complete collection of map rendering objects designed to help .NET developers automate the process of displaying world maps in their GIS applications. The perfect add-in component to ThinkGeo's popular Map Suite line of .NET components, Render World 2.0 is a full-featured rendering solution that generates fully functional, detailed maps of the world at many different levels of magnification.

For over 100 years, readers of National Geographic magazine have relied on the Society, world leader in cartography, to provide the most accurate, comprehensive maps available. Now, for the first time, hundreds of these classic supplement maps may be purchased online through a collaboration between National Geographic Maps and Maps.com. The National Geographic Maps Classic Collection can be found at NGMapCollection.com.

terra IMS has released a preview of mapdango, a map "mashup" that integrates the Vast.com API with the Google Maps API.

Around the Web

New Flights of Fancy, by Brad Stone, Newsweek, November 20, 2006 - Welcome to the Matrix: Virtual Earth 3D re-creates 15 cities, including Las Vegas - Google and Microsoft aim to give you a 3-D World.

Upcoming Events

b-GIS@India
Date: December 6 - 8, 2006
Place: Technopark Trivandrum, India
b-GIS@India is a conference with a difference, where GIS professionals, academicians, industrialists, and the government participate to pool and orchestrate their combined strengths for the benefit of the Indian GIS industry across all sectors without any distinction as to government, private, or NGO. It is set for the 6th - 8th of December 2006 at Technopark, Trivandrum, India and is organised by GIS Engineers Society in association with Department of Geology, University of Kerala, India and Technopark, Trivandrum, India.

 

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