October 06, 2008
Geospatial Data Transforms into Business Data
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News

Geospatial Data Transforms into Business Data

By Susan Smith

An enterprise Geospatial Business System that can manage and serve geographic data of all types has just made a grand entrance: ERDAS APOLLO 2009.
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The ERDAS APOLLO Image Manager 2009 Web Client Mapping Workflow

Mladen Stojic, senior vice president, Product Management and Marketing, said that ERDAS APOLLO is a business system that connects to GIS systems such as ArcServer or ArcSDE, GIS files, remote sensing or photogrammetry systems, and aggregates all the information so that it can be used by users outside the geospatial domain. Providing a rich service oriented architecture (SOA), ERDAS APOLLO can manage all types of geospatial data, including feature vector data, raster data, terrain data or map data that can be served through web services.

“Organizations have already purchased or are in the process of purchasing GIS systems, whether it’s the GIS, remote sensing, or photogrammetry department, where both ERDAS and ESRI have deployed technology side by side,” said Stojic. ERDAS APOLLO extends geographic information to people that have particular vertical market needs, such as urban planning, forestry, agriculture, environmental, utilities. “We’re trying to break down those walls,” said Stojic. “We’re trying to connect what’s happening on the earth to business organizations. We’re trying to go above the departmental deployments of these geospatial technologies, which is where we are today with GIS, remote
sensing and photogrammetry.”

Which brings us back to ERDAS’ slogan: the “Earth-to-Business” company. “That’s what ERDAS APOLLO is: connecting all the earth based data and information throughout an organization to those people who typically haven’t gotten access to that content,” added Stojic. “It’s really a business system that unites people to an organization’s geographic data.”

The core of ERDAS APOLLO is a product called ERDAS APOLLO Server, which offers the following:

1) Finding data that’s located in all GIS, photogrammetry, remote sensing departments;

2) Description of data so other people can find it. ERDAS APOLLO has metadata harvesters that extract metadata and map it to a database that allows other people to search against;

3) Server side processing or geoprocessing where people can get dynamic content as opposed to static vector or raster or map data,

4) Ability to catalog data, so once it is catalogued; it is exposed to the whole organization in a secure fashion;

5) Serves data through OGC services, and also through industry protocols such as JPIP, ECWP streaming protocol allowing ERDAS to serve thousands of users at the same time. Proven IT standards such as JavaEE, SOAP/WSDL, and REST integrate ERDAS APOLLO into business environments, also meeting organizations’ security requirements.

Similar to JPEG 2000, ECWP is a protocol for streaming data, particularly imagery, and one of ERDAS’ options for streaming data from their server application. The technology Representational State Transfer (more commonly known as REST) provides interfaces between certain applications so that they can consume and interact with services from server applications or products. REST enables users of Google Earth or any other web application to connect to the ERDAS APOLLO Server to catalog and search and browse.

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Filter and Export Vector Data through the web client of ERDAS APOLLO Server

“We expose these restful interfaces that allow third party applications to work with our server applications,” explained Stojic. “It’s a mechanism for developers or users to interact with our server environment. When you hear of REST and restful interfaces, those are essentially ways for web or desktop applications to interact with server applications in a standard fashion.”

With ERDAS APOLLO in the enterprise, users of ArcMap, Geomedia, Autodesk, ERDAS IMAGINE, and Bentley can now consume data from the ERDAS APOLLO Server. Part of the server application provides an audit log so the user can monitor and review all the transactions with ERDAS APOLLO Server applications. “You can look at statistics, such as who looked at it, what region did they look at it, what data set did they look at, when did they look at it, how many times did they look at it,” said Stojic. “All of that information is persisted and stored in an audit log, allowing an IT or database administrator to review usage of the actual enterprise application.”

An enterprise will need a database and an application server in order to run ERDAS APOLLO. A database stores all of the metadata and all application-specific information such as the audit log, user profile, and all the information associated with the user application. The application server houses the ERDAS APOLLO application, making it possible for hundreds of users to connect to one server and access that one application at the same time.

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The ERDAS APOLLO Image Manager 2009 Web Clip, Zip and Ship Requests

An add-on module to ERDAS APOLLO, ERDAS APOLLO Image Manager can support terabytes of imagery with no problem with the ECWP delivery mechanism for imagery, and Stojic ensures that “There is no limitation to the volume of content, it largely depends upon the storage system a customer has.”

Industries such as oil and gas, utilities and telecommunications, seek a secure geospatial business system within their organization for managing and serving data are potential customers for ERDAS APOLLO Server. “It’s got to be able to perform when there’s a huge load on the system and it’s got to be geospatially transparent,” said Stojic. ERDAS doesn’t differentiate between geospatial data, remote sensing or photogrammetry data; it’s all geocontent that needs to be delivered to other people within an organization.

Another product in the ERDAS APOLLO release is ERDAS APOLLO Solution Toolkit, a developer toolkit that allows users to build their own custom GeoWeb application. ERDAS provides sample applications out-of-the-box for users to try out a web browser to exploit and use geospatial information.

Other plans include possibly pushing ERDAS APOLLO services to the cloud. “Instead of accessing the processes or services from an organization, people can leverage the storage and processing power of large organizations such as Amazon to get what they need when they need it,” said Stojic. “From our point of view, it doesn’t matter where you want to deploy it, because it’s designed in such a way that it will work in either an organizational business system or in the cloud. For some organizations there are lower training, IT and personnel costs.”

Top News of the Week

ESRI announced that
NAVTEQ, a provider of premium-quality digital map data, has signed an enterprise license agreement (ELA) for ESRI’s ArcGIS suite of software products. This worldwide agreement allows NAVTEQ to utilize ArcGIS technology across the enterprise to build products beyond the core map database.


DigitalGlobe, a global content provider of high-resolution commercial satellite imagery and geospatial information products, announced that it has extended its service agreement with
Google to provide high-resolution satellite imagery for Google Maps and Google Earth. The new multi-year, non-exclusive content agreement continues DigitalGlobe's relationship as one of Google's leading providers of global high-resolution satellite imagery, with ongoing commitments for imagery on Google's current and future imagery platforms.

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-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.

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