While Google has announced to open-source its code of Google Earth Enterprise, Esri has released an update of ArcGIS Earth that enhances the on-premises experience.
Google made two recent announcements about the future of two of its mapping products. First, they announced to shut down their Google Maps editing tools, Google Map Maker, from March 31 2017, leaving the position of an open mapping platform to OpenStreetMap. Many of Google Map Maker´s features are now being integrated into Google Maps. The second announcement said that Google Earth Enterprise is now open-sourced, with Google having made the source code available on GitHub under an Apache 2 license. This means that anyone can now build their own commercial software on top of it.
Google Earth Enterprise could be used to build and host on-premises versions of Google Earth and Google Maps. It was launched in 2006 and deprecated in 2015, while maintenance continued until March 2017. As a result of deprecating the product, the Esri Google partnership was signed so that the Google Earth Enterprise user base had an alternative. Also deprecated in 2015 was the Google Earth Enterprise Client (EC), that formed part of Google Earth Enterprise and connected users to their organization’s private globes that were either hosted on private servers or Google’s global database. Contrary to Google Earth Enterprise, this has not been open-sourced so users will now have to look for an alternative, such as Google Cloud Platform to run instances of Google Earth Enterprise instead of on-premises, or use ArcGIS Earth. Now that Google Earth Enterprise has been open-sourced, the possibility exists to develop alternatives to ArcGIS Earth.
New Administrator and Configuration Tools
Esri, on the other hand, employs somewhat a different strategy when it comes to users who cannot or don´t want to use the cloud. Those who already started using ArcGIS Earth will be happy to know that the most recent update (version 1.4, released in January 2017) enhances the Portal for ArcGIS experience, thus making the on-premises experience easier.
The update offers new administrator and configuration tools. A configuration (.xml) file can be distributed along with the installer that allows for the pre-configuration of many of ArcGIS Earth’s setting and parameters. These include navigation, units, error logging, start-up layers, basemaps, terrain and more. Organizations that are running ArcGIS Earth behind firewalls can specify their own portals including a default portal URL. A newly added portal configuration interface creates an experience similar to the ArcGIS Pro portal in which the app remembers previously accessed portals. The new portal configuration tool lets users switch easily among Organizations in on premises ArcGIS Enterprise portals or ArcGIS Online.