Years ago in the Arc/Info world, we used to perform most of our geoprocessing in ArcInfo Workstation on Windows. But when we needed to really get work done, we’d use a HP-UX beast of a server to handle some of the more complex geoprocessing. It was really easy to do right, Esri even use to have some tools to help you accomplish this. I remember thinking that very soon we’d be able to offload most geoprocessing on remote constellations and then just get back the results. My personal workstation wouldn’t be bogged down with processing and the server would be doing what we paid good money for.
Well we didn’t know what we were talking about at the time was “GIS as a Service”. Mostly because we didn’t think of clouds anything more than rain makers. But the idea of offloading our geoprocessing was something to a person we’d wager would be built into GIS by now. Of course products like ArcGIS Server and FME Server can run processing remotely but it is not built into workflows. You have to go out of your way to author scripts that can handle this. I’m curious why things worked out this way.
It could be that with Arc/INFO on Unix going away there wasn’t servers that could handle geoprocessing. Or it could be that workstations these days are so fast that you don’t need to remote process. Maybe I’m just old and stuck in my ways that I want to use an Unix server for processing, maybe put a couple of Perl scripts in there and call it a day. But I think I’m disappointed that we just haven’t seen that much uptake on remote geoprocessing. The only workflow I’ve used this on that was supported by the software is authoring on FME Desktop and running those workbench scripts on FME Server.
I guess we always assume there will be flying cars and houses on the moon but we’re left with airport departure TVs that show the blue screen of death, smartphones that can be hacked with SMS and our credit cards being stolen left and right. The reality of GIS in 2015 is it is still enterprise work being done in a workgroup fashion. GIS isn’t taken seriously by IT because we don’t take ourselves seriously. Hiding in a corner “doing GIS” is how we’re seen by others. Time to break the mold.