Monday, January 12, 2009

Is ArcSDE going to be around in 5 years?

With the fact that the two major databases that ESRI users store their data have options to store spatial data in them natively and the fact that ArcGIS Image Server can store raster data, will ArcSDE be around in 5 years? GIS Managers and system architects really have multiple options and the only thing holding them back is that much of ESRI’s more sophisticated capabilities (versioning, network modeling , etc.) require the geodatabase. But, will this remain the case as the pressure to more open technologies becomes more the standard than the exception? Is there any reason why the major players (Microsoft, Oracle, ESRI, etc.) couldn't design a spatial database standard? Why not? A point, line or polygon are pretty much the same no matter how it's accessed. It seems to me that as LIBRARIAN and ArcStorm went by the way side ArcSDE is headed that way too.

What do you think?


  1. I was wondering this same thing the other day after watching some Manifold demos. Not that I am using Manifold; however, if they can do it, how much longer until ESRI shelves SDE?

  2. It would be a fantastic thing to see Oracle and Microsoft start to implement topologies (spatial, network, etc) in their spatial extensions because it would tease these higher-level spatial concepts out in a form that would be more universal. The current standards for spatial data are about as rich as shapefiles (i.e., spaghetti in which the application has to sort out topology).

    But I doubt you'll ever see ESRI entirely eliminate a middleware server like ArcSDE because there are higher level concepts that still haven't been made operational. These will live in middleware until they are stabilized as standards and back into the server.

    Personally, I'd love to be able to start combining Oracle's semantic extensions with higher-level topologies and versioning. I don't get what's in ArcSDE because my front-end isn't ArcGIS. It's usually C++ or Python code - so I end up handling this stuff myself.