May 16, 2005
Autodesk's Acquisition of c-plan
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly! Last week Autodesk announced their acquisition of c-plan, a development partner headquartered in Switzerland, whose horizontal geospatial technology called TOPOBASE will add breadth and significance to Autodesk's Infrastructure Solutions Division (ISD) offerings. Hear what ISD VP Chris Bradshaw has to say about this acquisition in this week's Industry News.

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, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Appointments, New Products, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.

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

Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Autodesk's Acquisition of c-plan

By Susan Smith

Last week Autodesk announced their acquisition of c-plan, a development partner headquartered in Switzerland, whose horizontal geospatial technology called TOPOBASE will add breadth and significance to Autodesk's Infrastructure Solutions Division (ISD) offerings.

TOPOBASE is a topology database that creates a data management layer set up specifically for utilities, telecommunications and local governments. On top of TOPOBASE data management technology, c-plan brings to market vertical solutions that are called TOPOBASE Electric, TOPOBASE Gas, etc. which they sell in Central Europe and beyond.

“What we plan to do is to take both the horizontal as well as the vertical solutions and deploy them worldwide, so we'll create vertical solutions for electric utilities, government, and communications that will be branded by Autodesk in the future,” Chris Bradshaw, vice president, ISD, explained of the $18 million acquisition. “With this acquisition we're moving into very specific vertical solutions. These solutions can also be extended by our partners, systems integrators, by development partners. They are themselves extensible and the TOPOBASE technology is extensible.”

Autodesk ISD has not offered global solutions before, said Bradshaw. They had a public works offering designed mainly for North America. “The opportunity we see with the c-plan technology is that with the addition of their horizontal and vertical technology we believe we can now offer a global solution along with Map 3D and Civil 3D that we already ship everywhere in the world,” noted Bradshaw. “I think we have some work to do, but our plan is to adapt these solutions so they are applicable more broadly, so our water solution or electric solution is consistent across the globe.”

When it comes to integrating these types of solutions, Bradshaw said there will be a lot of customization, etc. because it is technology that will be implemented by partners and in some cases by Autodesk directly. It will not be like packaged shrinkwrap software. “Our plan is really to move these solutions into our channel and reseller community, and give to our system integrators to offer them more tools to work with, then to move into these new markets. It's a lot more of a solution than Map 3D all by itself.”

There's not much overlap with Autodesk's existing technology. TOPOBASE is obviously running on a server environment and all this technology is configured to run on Oracle. c-plan is an Oracle reseller, reselling and providing maintenance for Oracle, which Bradshaw noted is a “higher” level of Oracle reseller than Autodesk.

Among Autodesk's strategies is the attempt to raise the quality and the expertise of the company's existing partners as well as look at partners who in the past may not have had as much interest in being an Autodesk partner. Now they may see a new opportunity. “As I travel around the world, everyone is doing things slightly differently but their business problems are very much the same,” Bradshaw remarked. “We really do see an opportunity to provide solutions that today might be classified as custom one-off solutions. There is an opportunity for us to democratize some of the solution space with the c-plan technology and use the strength of our marketing and sales network
to push forward into space that's pretty fragmented.”

c-plan is a company of 65 employees with 700 customers and 2,000 users. They have been growing their business very successfully since they started at 20 % growth each year. They have remained very localized, as they haven't had the capital to expand their business the way a company like Autodesk can do.

“We believe we can take the solutions they've developed not only into Europe but into North America or Asia Pacific,” said Bradshaw. “We can't do it immediately because there's development work, translation and localization to be done. They have the right technology framework for creating solutions that we can bring to market in a global sense.” In the solutions space, Autodesk has always focused on a single market. When they bring their public works solution to market in the U.S. for example, they don't set out to bring all solutions to all markets at once. It is done for packaged software but not for solutions.

“Assuming we're successful,” continued Bradshaw, “This will be seen as a big turning point in the ISD strategy for Autodesk because we really have plans to change our approach to bringing solutions to market--not just products like Civil 3D, Map 3D and Mapguide.”

In the c-plan solution, customer geospatial information is stored inside of TOPOBASE inside of Oracle so Map is just a client front end. C-plan also supports some competitors' products such as GeoMedia as well. In this context, Autodesk Map becomes merely a graphics rendering application; it “paints” a picture on the screen, renders the TOPOBASE database, and allows you to do geometric connection and all things you would expect to do in a map environment.

This acquisition isn't about converting an existing user base, rather, the user generally already owns Autodesk products. They use MapGuide to publish all this information out to FieldForce, etc. c-plan's technology was already well integrated with Autodesk's solutions as they are a reselling partner in Switzerland and in Germany. The opportunity is to grow the install base of this technology through Autodesk branding and delivery of the solutions across all of its geographies.


NovaLIS Technologies has successfully implemented NovaLIS Land Development Office™ in the City of Nampa, Idaho. Nampa is located in the Treasure Valley area in Southwest Idaho and, with a population of over 70,000, it is the second largest city in the state. A destination for new business, Nampa has experienced rapid growth and the City's previous platform was not able to handle the large increase in permit requests.

NAVTEQ, provider of digital map data for vehicle navigation and location-based solutions, will be hosting the official judging of its third annual NAVTEQ Global LBS Challenge in conjunction with key wireless industry trade shows in North America and Europe. A developer contest created to catalyze growth in the location-based services industry, the NAVTEQ Global LBS Challenge encourages developers to build location-enabled applications for wireless devices.

VARGIS, LLC celebrated the inauguration of its US geospatial production facility in Frostburg, Maryland on May 6, 2005.

The inauguration is the culmination of dedicated effort and collaboration by VARGIS, Frostburg State University, Allegany County and the State of Maryland. The facility will foster the creation of new high tech jobs for the region and provide a scalable platform for VARGIS' growing geospatial services business.

Galdos Systems will host
GML Days 2005 in Vancouver, British Columbia from July 18th to July 22nd. GML Days 2005 will be the fourth annual conference on the OGC Geography Mark-up Language (GML) and Web Services for GIS.

In 2002, about 37 percent of working Pennsylvanians were age 45 or older, an increase from 33 percent in 1998, the U.S. Census Bureau said recently. The share of the Keystone State's workers who were age 65 or older increased slightly over the period, from 3.0 percent to 3.4 percent. The analysis of Pennsylvania's older work force is based on the Local Employment Dynamics (LED) program

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-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.


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