December 22, 2008

GIS in Tough Economic Times

I have to say that the slow down in the global economy is affecting almost everyone now in some way or another. I am currently in business development mode and I can tell you it is definately slim out there right now. I think almost everyone is more cautious about taking on new projects and perhaps putting some things off until financing becomes more readilly available again. Having said this I think there is even more of a need for some organizations to look at open source, particularly with regard to GIS. It has been proven time and again that open source can save many companies a significant amount of money due to the low/no cost of open source software. I have been involved in implementing both open source and commercial software for clients and I can tell you the cost differential is truely significant. As an example the following shows the difference in software costs between an open source enterprise geospatial database system and a commercial one:
  • PostGIS/PostgreSQL - $0
  • ArcSDE - $18,000+

You also have to keep in mind that ArcSDE is only a geospatial layer that must sit on an enterprise database system like SQL Server or Oracle. This means the cost can be significantly more than this.

Now this cost savings can easily get nickle and dimed away if you spend alot of focusing on trying to get the OS GIS software to do things that it won't easily do. The key consideration here is PLANNING. Make sure you budget for enough up-front planning and the design, development and implementation will certainly be much more efficient. There are many techniques used by GIS architects and designers to make sure that the software you choose, either open source or commercial, will do what the project requires. I always recommend getting the advice of a consultant before taking on a project with technologies with which you are unfamiliar.

Anyway, I urge you, if you haven't already, to consider open source in the New Year for projects that may otherwise get put on hold or even canceled.

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