Posted by: SDGIS | January 4, 2012

Why Does Evari GIS Consulting Leverage ESRI-based GIS Solutions?

One of the main choices users of geographic systems and data face is whether or not to pursue an ESRI-based solution. We would like to share our reasoning behind the use of ESRI technology solutions for our clients.  While we are an ESRI-focused firm, we believe blind commitment to any technology is unwise.  There are several reasons, however, why we continue to focus upon ESRI-based GIS solutions: ESRI is comprehensive, modular, open, and flexible.

Esri is Comprehensive. There is a real difference between a “geographic data visualization tool” and a “Geographic Information System.” A geographic data visualization tool is a way to share geographic information, but not manage  data.  A GIS supports a central data repository where there are many clients with varying functionality and access.  GIS also enables database functionality whereby tabular and geographic relationships can be enforced.  For example, parcels cannot overlap; no land is in more than one parcel.  There is no way to enforce this type of rule solely within a geographic data visualization tool. There are ways to overcome this type of obstacle, but they require investment in an expensive and diverse skill set.  Often individuals which meet these requirements might not include any experience working with maps or spatial representation.  ESRI software provides a system which is configured to accomplish both the data visualization and data management tasks.   In short, if you have a geography-based problem or question, ESRI will have a supported solution on their platform.  As specialists in the ESRI technology stack, Evari can focus on implementing geography-based solutions to a broad range of clients.

Esri is Modular. Most organizations getting into GIS start small with one or two ESRI ArcView users/licenses.  As the desire for more functionality grows, they can purchase (and configure) a supported solution which will work with and complement that investment.  This scenario is better than having to hire programmers and database admininistrators to develop a solution from the ground up.  Or worse, being dependent upon a particular consultant to provide a solution on their proprietary platform which another consultant cannot manage.  The latter scenario places our clients in a tenuous situation if they decide to move away from that particular consultant.  At Evari GIS Consulting we believe in providing our customers with the simplicity and scalability that comes with ESRI products.

Esri is Open. ESRI is well aware that different organizations with different skill sets come to use their technology.  In an effort to create a truly open GIS platform, ESRI makes it possible for a variety of users to use their products effectively. For example, their flagship server product (ArcGIS Server) has both .NET and Java versions.  Both versions can leverage data which lives in SQL Server or Oracle as well as a variety of other common Relational Database Management Systems (RDbMS).  Mapping services can be published and consumed on wide variety of platforms including Javascript, Flash, Silverlight and Html5.  ESRI also supports solutions on other visualization platforms such as the ArcGIS Extension for the Google Maps API, or via network links in Google Earth.  Open Street Map, OpenLayers, Google Maps, Bing Maps, Google Earth, qGIS, SQL and Oracle Spatial types and services, along with a myriad of others offer real alternatives to ESRI products.  While some of these options have advantages over the ESRI offering within a particular solution, the ESRI GIS platform remains the most well-rounded, robust GIS software on the market today.

We also wanted to add that we are well aware that we are living in a fluid environment, especially as it relates to web services and service-oriented architecture (SOA).  As servers become elastic, quad-core 64-bit desktops with 8gb of RAM, dual-core 1GHz tablets, and cell phones with independent GPUs become more available, new frontiers are being opened up.  The client/server relationships of the past are giving way to a whole new paradigm.  Suddenly, a tablet has the same horsepower as a server of just a few years ago.  Processes which were previously required to run on the server can now be accomplished client-side.  In this type of dynamic industry, we are always looking to find ways to deliver more reliable, performant, and robust solutions for our clients.  ESRI has proven that they can compete vigorously in this market, but Evari maintains an eye on the future for any changes which will affect our industry.

Evari  GIS Consulting is in the business of providing professional and affordable geography-based solutions for our customers.  Based on a clear understanding of the GIS industry, Evari believes that leveraging the ESRI technology stack is the most effective way to fulfill those goals.

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Responses

  1. I disagree with your statement that Esri products are open. They integrate with other systems and services, but they are most definitely not open. They do not conform to most open standards (WMS, WFS, GeoJson), heck some of the API’s do not even play with open standards data sources. i will give them kudos for opening up a few products; the Geoportal Server, shapefile and file geodatabase.

    Just because something can run on many platforms or can communicate with different systems does not make it open.

    • We would never describe Esri as “open-source.” Below is a link to an article discussing this

      The key sentence in the article:
      “ArcGIS is designed and engineered with interoperability and extensibility in mind and conforms to the open standards and specifications that are necessary to implement enterprise systems.”

      This is our main concern and how we use the term “open.”

      http://www.esri.com/news/arcnews/spring11articles/open-source-technology-and-esri.html


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