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I wrote the following post as an article for Quebec-based “” back in May 2007 while this geospatial news aggregator was about to launch. I was the very first employee the company hired to write geospatial news articles for its site, but I left Quebec city and moved to Montreal after I received another offer from Positron Inc. (now Intrado). As a consequence, I believe Baliz-Media never published the piece. That said, the Geo-Business Intelligence (Geo-BI) arena has clearly grown leaps and bounds since then, both in terms of players and range of technologies that have increased dramatically. Therefore, stay tuned for a follow-up article to hit this blog ASAP.

In the meantime, well, enjoy reading this perhaps « outdated » post…to refresh your memory about this fast-paced industry.


Microsoft just released Katmai, a geo-enabled version of its flagship SQL Server database system. But the truth is the geospatial community has been excepting this news since Microsoft moved to acquire GeoTango (Toronto, ON) and Vexcel (Boulder, CO), two geospatial start-ups respectively specializing in content development and 2D/3D visualization and space imaging. Microsoft made the announcement during its recent Business Intelligence (BI) conference in Seattle and took the opportunity to let people know that it will geo-enable several of its applications. Indeed, the software giant has already overhauled its geospatial portfolio (TerraServer-USA, Mapoint, Virtual Earth 3D, and MSN Search) under a unique platform (Virtual Earth) designed in response to the threat posed by Google Earth, Yahoo! Spatial, and other BI players.

We already knew that Oracle is Microsoft’s main competitor in the RDBMS and enterprise systems (ex. CRM, SCM, EIS, ERP). Clearly, in the database market, the Redmond-based software giant has always been very competitive with the small to medium customers (public and private sectors) thanks to SQL Server user-friendliness and lower price point. Hence, Microsoft’s likely going to move swiftly to secure its traditional market share in this profitable segment, which will threaten Oracle’s push for the adoption of its Oracle Spatial. However, the play will be a lot harder for Katmai if and when it wants to play in the corporate systems and the government geospatial marketplace where Oracle is way ahead, very well established, and reputed for its proven scalability and security. That said, it’s pretty clear that Microsoft’s intent is to become a big player in that latter segment given that Katmai seems to be strategically corporate-oriented.

Besides, both Microsoft and Oracle are now faced with new insurgents coming from the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) space. Indeed Sweden-based MySQL and PostgreSQL/PostGIS are well positioned to compete in both the traditional and spatial RDBMSs fronts. Lets face it, in addition to their openness, the level of maturity and sophistication of these FOSS players is now comparable to that of their commercial counterparts, a fact that’s not lost in an industry obsessed with reducing rising organizational costs.

In any case, expect the RDBMS fight in the BI battleground to bump into the poor integration between traditional IT infrastructure and geospatial technologies (GT). Fortunately, the limit between these 2 worlds is eroding very rapidly thanks to the increased embedding of geospatial technology into today’s strategic organizational systems. Nonetheless, a seamless integration between IT and GT will require our leaders to educate their IT personnel about what an added geospatial functionality will do for their organizations.