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The Cloud is becoming a regular part of many of today’s conversations. Indeed, everything seems to be heading in that direction. Not only is it possible to store virtually anything from accounts through sales presentations to HR files in the cloud, but GIS technology is now moving there as well. Several vendors have already developed GIS route planning software and other solutions for the cloud. But still others are weighing the pros and cons of cloud GIS.
The Benefits of Cloud GIS
Cloud GIS is definitely beneficial where data capture is concerned. Currently, real-time data can be displayed directly in any system which requested it. There are several examples of applications which have allowed the general public to capture and verify GIS data from the cloud. One example of this is street mapping technology.
Access to GIS data can occur around the clock and from any location, as well as via any internet connection. Those with fast and reliable connections to the internet will definitely view this as a benefit.
Cloud GIS can also open a larger number of income streams to those looking to sell their services and data to a broader online audience, anywhere round the World.
Those involved with IT management can now outsource their need for GIS administrators to the organisation that is hosting the GIS.
Those who deal with several remote users will appreciate the advantages of cloud GIS, which is revolutionising data distribution and analysis, making it very simple to update local servers.
The Disadvantages of Cloud GIS
Where access to GIS data is concerned, this can also be considered to be a disadvantage should the user not have an internet connection that is reliable and fast.
The volume of GIS data continues its increase. This data can occupy gigabytes of space on a local server. When that data is moved to the cloud data storage is less of an issue as it easier to distribute the data across servers, and should be more cost effective too. However, it is true that downloading large chunks of data from the Cloud may present delays as this is dependent on the user`s connection.
The security of data in the cloud is another potential disadvantage. There are lots of arguments about which is more secure – on-premise of in the Cloud. Whichever deployment an organisation choses they must ensure the appropriate amount of security is applied to deter unwanted access.
The GIS host that holds your data is a business and some provide more efficient services than others. Organisation must make ensure that appropriate service levels are agreed that suit the budget and needs of the business.
To some placing data in the cloud can also mean a lack of control over the way the data is displayed, analysed, used and manipulated.
Finally, data may need to be reformatted in order to be compatible with the dataset being used by the GIS application used by the cloud.
While the pros and cons of cloud GIS have been, and are certain to continue to be the subject of extensive discussion among users and experts alike, the fact remains that cloud GIS is here to stay. As such, this option can be worth looking into if you wish to simplify the needs of your organisation and its users.
To do this effectively, it will be necessary to find a service that can not only meet your organisation`s needs, but its data formats and end users, as well as allow you the level of data control you desire. This will involve forming a set of criteria by which your idea GIS cloud host can be assessed, and ensuring that the companies you`re considering meet as many of the items on the list as possible.