I’m surprised the announcement that ESRI is collaborating with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to bring ArcGIS Server into its cloud computing environment isn’t getting more attention. This, in my opinion, is a significant development even though it will initially be available only to customers operating under an ESRI Enterprise License Agreement. Assuming security considerations can be adequately addressed I would expect there to be a lot of interest from organizations looking to implement ArcGIS Server. Not only will data be hosted in the cloud, but ArcGIS Server itself will be accessible. Small organizations in particular would benefit from the infrastructure on demand and pay as you go software approach.
Initially ESRI will offer ArcGIS Server Enterprise Advanced v10, along with a few extensions, on AWS. “The ArcGIS Server Amazon Machine Images, hosted in the AWS cloud, will not be made available until the ArcGIS Server v10 release [in July], and only for customers under an ESRI Enterprise License Agreement,” says Victoria Kouyoumjian, IT Strategy Architect at ESRI. Users who don’t want to wait for the release of v10 can run ArcGIS Server 9.3.1 in the cloud, but that requires retaining ESRI Professional Services to assist in getting it up and running.
How quickly will ESRI open up access to the cloud for organizations not under Enterprise License Agreements? Hopefully it won’t be long.
ESRI is by no means the only geospatial player embracing the cloud as this excellent article by Brian Timoney points out. The soon to be released Arc2Earth V3 utilizes Google App Engine as a data store for extractions from ArcMap. Safe Software’s flagship FME product is also investigating the use of Amazon’s cloud infrastructure. These are just a couple examples of other companies moving infrastructure and data tot he cloud. It’s really just a matter of time until all geospatial software and data vendors utilize the cloud in some way.