Licensing on the GeoWeb

**The GeoWeb is easy, right **

The GeoWeb is easy, right

OK, love or hate the term GeoWeb, it does reflect the reality of our workflows today. We are taking our applications off of the desktop and running them on the web, we are combining data silos right inside the browser and we are giving tools to that used to be reserved for technicians on UNIX workstations to users via their mouse. It is truly a new way of working, but I see it running directly in a wall.


Here we are at the tip of the iceberg changing the world (maybe a self-serving statement), but we’ve got a chain around our necks limiting our potential. Google and Microsoft’s (among others) APIs are sold the same way IBM sold software before there was the world wide web, large companies can cut great deals, smaller users are left paying full price because we don’t matter. ESRI’s ArcGIS Desktop and Server licensing doesn’t reflect how users are using the applications in the real world (sure, allowing editing on ArcGIS Server Standard instead of Advanced is a step, but it is just one in a long list of problems with the licensing model). Don’t even get me started on Oracle’s licensing. Arbitrary levels of licensing that have no real world basis are killing innovation and requiring consumers of the services to look elsewhere or limit what they can do with technology. I’m not advocating abandoning any of these companies here because there are great business cases to use their software, but their customers are not able to continue business as usual.

Won’t someone please think of the users

Wont someone please think of the users

Just last Friday, I was talking to a client who was paying for ArcInfo because one hour a month he needed a function that it handled. The rest of the time ArcView was good enough for him. This isn’t just limited to ESRI, most software companies sell software this way and users are expect to pick up the cost just to get some functionality that some committee, in a dark room in their software design center, determined that only “power users” would need is crazy. Sure there are ways to get around most of these limitations using other software, but all these companies are doing is pushing their customers away.

So what do we need here Google offers their products as SaaS and so does Microsoft. Why does this make sense for “Office” applications and not Geospatial software Now these efforts of course don’t replace Microsoft Office and that isn’t their mission (well at least Microsoft’s). But what do they do is allow users to extend their collaboration further than the office conference room. Geospatial software is well set up to take advantage of services. Pay for what you use and spend the savings on tools that benefit the end users and not tools that you’d never need.

So I’m not exactly expecting a revolution here in the next year, but unless companies start thinking about the realities of how users are using their software or APIs, we are going to have to look elsewhere or create our own tools. Given what the licensing costs these days, there is money to get that done. Personally I’d rather just use an off the shelf solution and pass those savings on to my clients and get back to building great applications for them

The GeoMonkey only wants what is right

The GeoMonkey only wants what is right...

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