US: Google released Earth Builder, a new Web service, to let businesses host geospatial data on Google’s cloud computing network. eWeek reported that Earth Builder marked a departure from Google’s on-premise geo-mapping products to date. Google Earth is a free desktop download that maps the Earth by superimposing images gleaned from satellite imagery, aerial photography and GIS 3D globe.
Google licenses commercial versions of Google Earth Pro for USD 399 a year and Google Earth Enterprise to help environmentally-oriented businesses and researchers gauge the effects of climate change and conduct other geospatial data-crunching tasks. Pro is downloaded to users’ computers while Earth Enterprise is hosted on company servers.
Google’s cloud comprises thousands of commodity servers running in parallel and residing in dozens of data centres all over the world. These servers power the company’s dozens of Web services, shuttling results to the Google.com’s search engine and hosting data from Gmail messages and Google Apps such as Google Docs.
Now Google has turned its cloud on for its traditionally locally-based enterprise geo products, starting with Earth Builder. The tool, which won’t be commercially available until Google’s third quarter, will let businesses upload, process and store their geospatial data in Google’s cloud.
While it’s true Earth Builder isn’t generally available yet, Australia’s Ergon Energy and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) have also signed contracts to use Earth Builder.