Brian Flood has blogged about his latest project, Arc2Earth Cloud Services. A2ECS (what is one more acronym among friends?) is yet another service that will be competing for our GIS dollar. We’ve seen the WeoGeo/Safe announcement, ESRI is thinking about hosted services and now Brian brings his cutting edge A2E services forward. Competition will only drive costs down and Brian Timony’s hope that companies will compete for his work is probably upon us. We can assume what ESRI’s hosted services will look like given our history with their products, the WeoGeo/Safe details are still forthcoming, but Brian Flood gets into detail about what his product is offering and how.

A2ECS will provide an online space to allow users host their maps and layers online and provide RESTful access for queries, editing and spatial analysis. Nothing very complicated in that, nice simple URLs to work with. I also think using AtomPub to synchronize data back and forth is very proactive. Despite what some would have to believe, FTP access is just a complete PITA and I’m happy to see APP front and center. Once others start offering such feeds you’ll be able to better leverage the promise of GeoWeb (as opposed to W*S and FTP access).

As for the A2ECS processing Brian states that he “will provide the 20% of functionality that is used 80% of the time.”? The worry I have had for many years is when companies promise to duplicate ArcInfo or similar products online. If I have a need for complex analytical processing, I’ll probably already have access to that tool, but if I want just answer questions spatially A2ECS is probably the better tool.

Now Brian isn’t close to releasing this tool so the the details about how this will actually work are still left open. Eventually a marketplace will develop that will allow users to take data, pay for it (if needed), process it and then resell it (if needed) and making sure everyone in the chain gets “their cut”. A perfect example of this is our buddy Mr Minton and his EVS-Islands. He wanted to sell a product he created using the DigitalGlobe imagery, but DigitalGlobe was unable to honor his request. The idea that he could use worldwide imagery and create a derivative product AND sell it AS WELL AS allowing for the image provider to be paid for the use of their product is one that needs to be addressed now. I suppose that is what WeoGeo is trying to accomplish, but companies need to offer up their data so that people can take the data and process it and then sell it making sure everyone makes money on the deal. We are just beginning to see the start of something here.