Google Earth Enterprise—not quite what we thought!

Google’s enterprise-level mapping system eschews hosted data paradigm of public version.

In last month’s editorial, Neil McNaughton waxed lyrical about the Google Earth (GE) model of hosted data and thin client access. It turns out that, even though this true for the public version of GE, Google has designed its Enterprise GE infrastructure rather differently.


Google’s Sanjay Patel put us right. GE Enterprise runs on a machine inside the company firewall. In fact it can be delivered as a Google ‘appliance,’ a hardware and software bundle that is ready to run. Users log on and connect to data on the Enterprise server from the client workstations.


It turns out that GE Enterprise, while not a full-blown GIS, has a deployment model that is closer to ESRI’s than the public GE. For an oil and gas company, with a large GIS dataset, this needs to be migrated to the Enterprise server. Once it is there, it is accessible from workstations using Google’s Keyhole Markup Language (KML). One GE Enterprise oil patch customer’s well data is connected dynamically to the system via KML. GE Enterprise is bundled with Blue Marble 500M imagery and global 1KM terrain.

Public data

We quizzed Patel as to how an ‘Enterprise’ user could access the massive public Google dataset. The answer is somewhat obscure. The Enterprise version is limited to data behind the firewall. The GE Pro client allows access to the public data set. But using the Google’s Petabytes of image data in a commercial context may mean cutting further deals with the data providers. Although here Patel points out that using Google’s buying power should mean a better deal for the end user.

GIS or not?

Is GE a true GIS? The answer is yes and no. While GIS data analysis functionality is limited, contrary to our editorial, GE Enterprise shares one aspect of other GIS solutions—it adds healthy dose of complexity to enterprise IT and data management!

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