GeoMedia GIS Blog

"A picture is only worth a thousand words. A map may be worth a thousand numbers. But a GIS is worth a thousand tables."

Random Thought

Posted by jeffhobbs on October 10, 2007

Before going further, I want to be sure to prefix this with the simple statement that I have heard nothing to confirm my thoughts nor has anybody provided any information on the issue.

With that said…I often wonder what Intergraph’s plan is to address the local government sector in North America if not the entire world. Ever since the "great reorg or 2005", what was once a well established GIS division (Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions) has since been almost entirely ingested by Intergraph Public Safety. And what’s the benefit for Intergraph local government customers??? I can’t say I really know nor understand. If I’m a Public Safety customer I’ve got a great solution which much of Intergraph’s top talent working on products and solutions. Much of the same talent that was once working on IMGS products and solutions. If I’m an Intergraph Public Safety customer, the future is looking bright.

Now, if I’m an Intergraph local government customer, what does my future look like in the United States? I’ve got very few sales people and maybe even less pre-sales people. Furthermore, these pre-sales people are now concentrating on Utilities, Transportation, AND Local Government.

As I said in my first paragraph, although I have not spoken to anybody on the issue, it really seems like Intergraph has given up on local government customers in the United States. To be honest, with ESRI’s current dominance, I can completely understand why they’d leave the market. Not to mention when you compare the typical local government sale where a number above $200,000 is seen as seen as "a fantastic day’s work" while that same number would be "rather disappointing" when selling Intergraph Public Safety software and solutions.

This all brings me to a thought I’ve had over the last month or so. Autodesk is actively looking to expand their GIS presence. In fact I know of four people that have an Intergraph background and are now working for Autodesk. Two of the people are working as product managers for Autodesk’s GIS line of products. Although it’s a huge hypothetical (at least in my eyes), I’d love to see Intergraph sell the GeoMedia suite to Autodesk. Just imagine what could be done for the GeoMedia suite if it was being sold by a local government sales force the size of Autodesk’s! GeoMedia would receive exposure in the United States like it never has had in the past. Additionally Autodesk could leverage its current partnerships with different companies to develop new and exciting software and integrations with GeoMedia. We might begin to see many more non-ESRI "extensions" for 3rd party products and systems.

Now what’s in it for Autodesk? Intergraph has some very well developed products including GeoMedia Public Works Manager, GeoMedia Transaction Manager, GeoMedia Parcel Manager, GeoMedia Transportation Manager, GeoMedia Grid, GeoMedia Terrain, etc. Although I’m not extremely familiar with the Autodesk line of GIS products, so I can’t offer a strong comparison between the two lines; I will venture an educated guess that Intergraph’s GIS products listed above are more mature and offer more functionality than equivalent products on the Autodesk side. (Note: I didn’t mention GeoMedia WebMap in the list above – so please no comparisons to MapGuide Enterprise 🙂 ) Additionally, since Intergraph has really started to roll GeoMedia into its Public Safety line of products, Intergraph would need to enter into a long-term agreement with Autodesk to ensure support for Intergraph Public Safety software into the foreseeable future. This would ensure a strong revenue stream for Autodesk before selling a single copy to local government customers.

In the end, I will restate the fact again – I have had no one else even suggest this idea to me. So, please note that this is just my "random thought of the day".

One final note…although Autodesk to me seems like a logical choice, as I’m sure most of you are aware, Leica is also looking to expand their GIS presence. Although it appears as if they’re looking to expand their presence through their different purchases earlier this year (IONIC, ER Mapper, and Acquis), might they be interested in the GeoMedia suite as well? Doesn’t seem that far-fetched to me.

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12 Responses to “Random Thought”

  1. Bill said

    Jeff,

    You’re not the only one who feels this way. I work in the public safety sector, but have in the past worked for local government and I echo your thoughts exactly. Intergraph is not at all aggressive in the Local Govt sector. Im not partial to any particular software vendor, I just like to see healthy competition to keep the respective vendors inline. I have worked with most of the major GIS software suites, and of course they all have their pros and cons. Coming from a database background, I tend to favour solutions allow you to treat your GIS data as if it were regular relational data with minimal middleware technologies involved. It just makes it easier to fit into the rest of the IT stack. To be honest, Ive always been amazed at how ESRI can convince their customers to spend exorbiant amounts on software suites, ignore data management best practices, adopt proprietry formats without question, and build their processes around software limitations in order to reap the benefits of a few cool widgets on the client side. I personally would pass on a few fancy widgets if it meant that the whole architecture would be more streamlined.
    Wait, now Ive gone off on one of my ESRI rants. Back to the original issue. I agree, a partnership with Autodesk would be good.

    Cheers,

    Bill

  2. Dir said

    HI!
    We have the same situation in Russia. Very few sales people and maybe even less pre-sales people and 0 technical support crew. Some times i think that ESRI may be a better choice.

  3. Dir said

    Hi!
    We have the same situation with Intergraph in Russia. Very few sales people and maybe even less pre-sales people and 0 technical support crew. Sometimes i think that ESRI was better choice than Intergraph.

  4. Jeff Hobbs said

    If I were going to make a switch, I think I’d look at something like Manifold or maybe even a solution like Acquis (now Leica). Anything I need to do would be in an Oracle database. And I’m not willing to lock up my data in an ArcSDE controlled environment.

  5. T Bralford said

    Or Cadcorp…

  6. Bill said

    <>

    I couldnt agree more. I dont care which software vendor it is, as long as it doesnt force the organization to disregard IT best practices and adopt proprietary data formats. Im always amazed that so many oganizations are more than willing to do so. There is a lot of buzz about manifold. Ive been meaning to try it out. Oh wait, I forgot Manifold does not have trial versions of their software 😦

  7. Jeff Hobbs said

    Bill,

    Isn’t that frustrating??

    In the past they’ve said that it’s so cheap, they just ask you to purchase. Not the best option if you ask me….

  8. Jeff Hobbs said

    On a complete side note – I’m kinda surprised no one from Intergraph has posted a reply or their thoughts. Would be great to hear from them on the matter as well.

  9. Bill said

    It is quite frustrating. This is the only company I have ever hear of that doesnt offer trial software. After seeing some demo’s of running queries in manifold using an sql command screen, I became very interested, but not quite interested enough to dish out the money from my own pocket.

    I have spoken with Intergraph staff on several occasions on what I believe to be one of their biggest shortcomings. Marketing & Promotion. Having worked with ESRI, Smallworld, Autodesk, MapInfo, Intergraph and a few other product suites, to me there is no clear winner in terms of capability and functionality and there is certainly plenty of room for competition. The difference is that ESRI & Autodesk are beating down doors and waving flags to gain penetration into every possible business sector while Intergraph who could easily compete in this arena seem to be indifferent. History has shown us that the software suites that achieve market dominance are not the best solutions, but rather the best marketted ones. Case in point is Geomedia’s Geocoding expansion pack. Currently its hidden away in the clutter of Intergraphs website. When I started using it, I was simply amazed at the robust functionality. It could easily have sold has its own add on, but here it was tucked away in the expansion pack section, a free download that most users would never find. There are other examples, but thankfully some of them have made their way to the 6.1 release.

  10. AHisham said

    I agree that there is a great shortcoming in Intergraph’s Marketing and Promotion sector, I’m not so familiar with Intergraph’s training and technical support, but compared to ESRI, I don’t think they are great either.

    I’m a long time ESRI user, and I was hoping to find a solution to expand my reach in GIS fat clients, so I’m on to try every GIS solution that is available and widely used, my first try was in Autodesk AutoCAD Map 3D.

    Hell …… this is one lousy and truly un-intuitive solution for GIS, it is one of the worst GIS implementations I’ve seen, many of the features there are flawed in the design,like:
    * 2 different ways to handle data input (one for DWG and the other for spatial data)
    * Many of the cleanup and correction features are restricted to DWG data sources (there superb Drawing Cleanup is limited to DWG layers)
    * I have a great confusion in the concept that the same file format is used in GeoWorkspaces (or map documents, or project files) and in the data storage itself (the ability to store data inside map documents is one of the worst ideas to implement in any enterprise implementation if you’d ask my opinion).
    * The 2D compositing engine in the AutoCAD foundation is one of the worst to use to create high-quality map products
    * The satellite imagery is limited to 8bit images (to use native QuickBird imagery files you have to purshase the Design Raster companion product)
    * Even that blue background is very bad (yes I know it can be changed, but it is a real indicator of how the design team is going after a GIS solution for hardcore CAD engineers, but not for GIS analysts and engineers.

    The list can go to a very lengthy list (and I’m a long time AutoCAD user, I should have found it very intuitive if it really targeted to AutoCAD users).

    What I’m trying to say it that while Intergraph (in its current reorg) may not be the greatest company to keep marketing and promoting for the GeoMedia Suite, neither will Autodesk, it is one of the greatest and biggest in Marketing and promotion, but for a company that decides key design decisions in a great GIS platform as GeoMedia, it is very bad.

    Look at their yearly release schedule, they are not trying to sell people new features and enhancements (as any software company should be doing), they are only selling us what they could do in a year (which is not so much if you are looking of what Autodesk is adding to AutoCAD every year) for the price of a full product (which is also too much for many small business sectors).

    Please do not try to promote for such a company (if Microsoft is the evil empire in the world of operating systems and networking, then Autodesk is its equivilent in the Engineering and visualisation field)
    And if the GeoMedia suite should be transferred to another company (which I agree it would be benefitical to the suite) then to any other company than Autodesk.

  11. Bill said

    Oh yes, the shortcomings of Autodesk… Let me see…

    I have used the AutoCAD Map product for years, and it is great, as long as you do not compare it to other desktop GIS products. It is very well positioned to be the data creation, cleanup and editing tool. The staging tool for GIS production data. But try to use it for traditional query and anyalysis and it falls down. It seems to me as if they are missing a middle tier product. They have an awesome editing CAD tool, and a fantastic webmapping solution, but nothing in between for the GIS Analyst role.

    There must be more money to be made in the Inventor suite of products because significantly more effort is made there. For instance, the 2008 release of most Autodesk Products supported the 64 bit platform. But not Map 3D.

    On the flip side, the move to make Mapguide open source was great. The OS project has done some fantastic things with the Mapguide tool.

  12. Oh how to expose the virtues of Autodesk…

    What an awful GIS product Map3D is. I fully agree with AHIsham, especially with the 2d engine not being able to produce high quality maps. Autodesk should stick to just CAD software. Anything else requires extrapolation of though.. which they clearly don’t have. I don’t even want to get into the microsoft of GIS systems; ESRI. I’ve heard Manifold provides a solid, reasonable solution. Does anyone run it?

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