Google today announced that it is opening up their cloud infrastructure to let you store and process your geospatial data. They announced a new web based offering called Google Earth Builder, available in the later part of this year, which will let organizations upload their geospatial data to Google Cloud and let the employees view it on Google Earth or Google Maps. Clearly targeted at the enterprise customers, this is Google’s another baby step in getting enterprises to trust their cloud and put all their data there in the future.
This is not some new offering from Google but a revamp of their existing Google Earth Pro (a desktop app available at $399 per user per year) and Google Earth Enterprise (which runs on On-Premise infrastructure) offerings. Google is telling the enterprise customers to offload their data to Google Cloud for crunching purposes. It has two significant advantages over the current offerings:
- Cost Savings: This will not only reduce the licensing fees but also the infrastructure and associated labor costs. For example, each license of Google Earth Pro can only be installed on two systems for each user. In this era of multiple devices, they need a flexibility to access geospatial information from any device from any where without additional licensing costs. A move to cloud solves this issue for these organizations
- Agility: Since the heavy lifting is done on the cloud where scalability is not an issue and with access from anytime, anywhere using any device, organizations can process complex geo-spatial data and make it available to their employees on any internet enabled device
More than anything specific about the product, what I find interesting is Google’s intentions to on-board any kind of data belonging to either consumers or enterprises, to their cloud. While users might find this advantageous (Hey, I myself have most of my data on Google cloud), there is definitely the issue of lock-in. When I say lock-in, I am not talking about any proprietary lock-in by Google. In fact, Google is one of the few cloud vendors who spend resources spearheading data portability. Their Data Liberation Front is a very good example to showcase their intentions. However, data portability through open formats or open protocols is just one part of the story. The costs associated with data migration is altogether a different story. If it is a case with individuals like me or small businesses where we may have a few hundred files, the migration is easier and costs peanuts. In this big data world, enterprises are going to have petabytes of data and if these data live on Google cloud alone, there is a cost driven lock-in which may prove to be a difficult problem in the long run.
In short, while Google’s attempts to on-board all of the world’s data on their cloud is interesting and, at times, exciting, we need to be aware of the costs associated with data portability. Before we use Google cloud, or any other cloud, for that matter, as a dump yard of all our data, we need to consider the data migrations costs in detail. If you are an enterprise IT manager with pro cloud credentials, keeping this in mind will save your job in the future.
- Google Earth Builder Allows Companies To Process And Store Geospatial Data In The Cloud (techcrunch.com)
- Bringing Google’s Cloud technology to Google Earth & Maps Enterprise (google-latlong.blogspot.com)
- Google Earth Builder: Enteprise Data In The Cloud (And On The Map) (searchengineland.com)
- Google Earth Builder: Managing & Mapping Companies’ Geo-Data (readwriteweb.com)
- Google Launches Earth Builder For Enterprise Mapping (informationweek.com)
- Google invites enterprise atop Google Maps, Earth (go.theregister.com)
- Google Earth Builder Launched For Businesses (webpronews.com)