ERDAS recently announced a new Apollo product that is scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of this year. Apollo lives on an application server and connects data that resides on a geospatial database. This product further illustrates the ERDAS product strategy, and provides a compelling piece of technology for enterprise enablement. I spoke today to Mladen Stojic, senior vice president, product management and marketing at ERDAS, about the Apollo strategy and the geospatial data workflows that this technology addresses.
There are four functional categories of ERDAS products based on the geospatial information value chain. Authoring products take source content and produce value-added or derivative data products and are mostly desktop applications (Imagine, LPS, ESRI extension, ER Mapper Pro). Once that data is authored, the new Apollo product line manages and serves raster, vector, terrain and map data to users. The data sharing piece is filled by the Titan GeoHub product, which allows users to connect and share with other users, and will soon allow people to buy and sell data. The fourth tier is the delivery of data, where users deliver content to users rapidly (ERDAS Image Web Server).
Apollo effectively combines the technology underpinnings of several acquisitions (Ionic, ER Mapper and Acquis). The February release of Image Manager was the first glimpse of the Apollo strategy. Apollo Server is built to automate the management and serving of geospatial data. Once the Apollo Server is installed on the application server and connected to the geospatial database, there are five-steps that the server enables for an enterprise.
1. Finding Data – The server has crawlers that securely crawl through the organizations servers to bring geospatial data together. The crawlers can be automated to search and find data on a daily basis or on whatever time table works for an organization.
2. Data Descriptions – Before being able to use the data, users must know about the data. Harvesters describe the data, creating metadata that resides in the database that can then be searched. This step adds standard descriptors or user-defined descriptions in order to enable intelligent search.
3. Data Processing – This step goes beyond a static image or feature data set to create derivative and added-value products. This is a geoprocessing function that ERDAS plans to expand upon, porting some of the functionality of desktop tools to the server. Geoprocessing can range from creating orthorectified, color balanced imagery mosaics on the fly to creating land cover data sets based on spectral properties, to creating buffers based on feature data sets.
4. Data Cataloging – This process creates an Open Geospatial Consortium catalog service that is exposed to people for easier data consumption.
5. Serving – The serving component again leverages Open Geospatial Consortium specifications for WMS simple map serving, WCS raster serving, WFS vector serving, WFS-T for transactional vector serving, and cataloging for discovering the content. WPS, the web processing service is still in development, but there are examples that show what will be possible with geoprocessing on the server.
There’s a strong need for this data connectivity piece, whether the users are involved in CAD or GIS or both. The Apollo Server positions itself above GIS, CAD or Photogrammetry systems to connect them together in order to facilitate broader use of the data.