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SOA will invert productivity paradigm

SOA will invert productivity paradigm

Christopher Tucker
Senior VP, ERDAS

How do you see your company and the Indian Defence sector?
ERDAS has a long history with the Indian Defence community. We have a large customer base and support a variety of operational groups. We are aware of the mission needs and challenges across the Indian Defence community pertaining to imagery management, data management, Defence Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) and look forward to providing support on all these fronts. The technical presentations made on LiDAR, geovisualisation, etc. at the recent GeoIntelligence India 2008 conference show the maturity of the knowledge base of the Indian Defence sector, which is similar to what we have encountered in the US. Most of my interactions with the Indian Defence staff have been with regard to the areas where they look to industry solutions for their specific needs.

What is the ‘Bounding Box’ problem we are facing?
I come from the service oriented architecture (SOA) side of the business. People talk a lot about geospatial exploitation and geospatial analysis. And they have just started to think about how they can get all that data to the right people, at the right time and the right place. If you have an SDI, any user, at any level across any organisation can simply use a bounding box query to discover and marshal all the data, regardless of where it is in the network and which organisation owns it. Currently, people spend 80% of their time trying to find data, access data and get data into an application. Approximately, only about 20% of their time is given to the real analysis or operational support activity. With SOA, we are trying to completely invert the productivity paradigm, where you spend 5% of your time discovering data and marshalling that data into your application. The rest 95% of your time can be spent on doing your work. That’s the essence of the Bounding Box problem. As we invert the productivity paradigm with SOA, people will see the reduction of mission latencies and the technology infrastructure that provides these benefits will become transparent or visible to the use. The scenario is similar everywhere.

Are there specific needs for Defence that you are presenting to the OGC?
The notion of a Defence SDI has always been an important topic in the OGC. Getting the right series of specifications is important. There is not just one standard; it is a sweep of standards that enable the vision of SDI. In the OGC, we have a Defence and Intelligence (D&I) Working Group where people from the US and outside come together and discuss Defence use cases. We realise that many cases are similar to commercial use cases, but there may be specific needs for precision or online processing that start in the Defence community that also become needs in the commercial sectors. In these instances, the needs may not be specific to Defence; but for Defence they are more acute. At the working group on D & I, individuals come together and articulate their needs to solve the problems as a community, developing standards-based architecture that benefits everybody.

Why is a Bounding Box more than an SDI?
A Bounding Box is just a different articulation of SDI. SDI has been around for years and people continue to be interested in having the infrastructures built and in ensuring that their investment supports their activities. There are some that are interested in the productivity gains of an SDI. In Defence, there are huge amounts of ‘Mission Latency’ that often prevent accomplishing tasks on time. An SDI allows, if properly implemented, the ability to draw a Bounding Box, discover and marshal data for productivity gains. So often, when people state that they need SDI, it is really a bounding box problem.

Will Wiki/social networks be the future for data creation?
I definitely think so. There is an ongoing concept of Web 2.0; and we have already seen the transformation happening on social networking sites. We have also seen the power of dynamic communities built by individuals with shared interests. Similarly, an SDI is built around a community of users with shared interests. As these users seek to contribute data back into the SDI, there is the need to tie the user/contributor to his/her data. This requires Wiki-like business rules and transactional audit, which create a social network. By taking social networking technologies and Web 2.0 like wikis, you introduce the ability for people to organise SDI dynamically. I think that this is one more opportunity to experience productivity gains.

What is the status of the ERDAS TITAN Network?
ERDAS TITAN is a synthetic innovation, venturing into the social networking space. Things like instant messengers, MySpace, wikis and mapping applications through mashups, have been combined to address this growing interest. The core technology is a Geospatial Instant Messenger and our Geohub proxy server, where any human on earth can have geospatial data on his or her computer and can share it with anyone through Web streaming services. This allows the users to retain control of their data. For example, you are not sending a 2GB image, but I can construct a personal space on ERDAS TITAN (called MyWorld) that reflects my interest and my knowledge. I can share it with anyone in the social network so they can pull a layer from my desktop and add it into their MyWorld, or I can switch to their MyWorld. It is very different from other data sharing solutions in that you build and maintain your own personal space and are able to maintain ownership of your data.

People continue to adopt ERDAS TITAN for their data sharing solution in unique scenarios. State and county governments, as well as private organisations could use ERDAS TITAN for emergency response and data management. In the military sector, a commander would use it to gather shared data to determine if there is existing data to conduct an operation. We continue to learn about new use cases as we discuss ERDAS TITAN with potential customers.