Jack Dangermond Part 5: Looking to the future

At the Esri User Conference, xyHt European editor Nicholas Duggan sat down for a one-on-one interview with Jack Dangermond, Esri founder and CEO. In Duggan’s five-part online series, running each day this week, Dangermond discusses everything from Esri’s beginning to the future of GIS. Here in Part 5 the two discuss what might be coming next.

Nicholas Duggan: Last question. About Esri. I can see you’ve moved from  mainframes to computers, and internet to cloud. And now now we’re kind of now seeing a lot of the ArcGIS pro kind of information or the capabilities slowly moving over to cloud services. So moving over to ArcGIS Online, could we potentially be seeing in the future a fully GIS ArcGIS Online, which has the same capability as ArcGIS pro? 

Jack Dangermond: Well, Pro has, really, a massive amount of capabilities. Let’s face it, huge is huge, the Swiss Army knife of GIS. But you will continue to see movement over to the cloud. There are a couple of things here. First Kubernetes, which allow the taking up any server like enterprise and breaking it into pieces, micro services, and then putting those pieces into independently scalable services that all work together and those can be in Increasingly distributed. So you begin to see this idea of a geospatial infrastructure of distributed services that all work together as if it’s one Pro, you know.

So I’ll just say that’s one of our efforts. And at the end of this year, beginning of next year, you’ll see a Kubernetes platform for enterprise and enterprises a goldmine of different capabilities. already inside of online, there are many functions which are invisibly on Kubernetes that make them independently scalable. That’s how we were able to do the Johns Hopkins scale out over 13 billion maps. It’s not just by the way as a map, there’s real data driven mapping that is being updated at the same time. So that was a big GIS accomplishment.

It isn’t just like a, you know, a vector base map out there. Vector tiles are tile raster? No, no, this is data driven GIS. So give us gave us a lot of hope. So you have seen in the path going forward, that we’re busy putting raster, and imagery into the cloud. So those will be extension services to online, much like the IoT extension, which by the way is running on Kubernetes has been in this year’s release.

So that will mean that raster geoprocessing, and image processing will be completely cloud as a service, you can upload your imagery, or you can access one of the image libraries from Amazon or, or, or Microsoft and to start using it as if it’s on your Pro. And you’ve also seen the announcement of the location services, that’s a big deal. And so we sort of like to keep our users informed, but there are some really big initiatives on underway, complete raster geoprocessing so that it’ll be like the Google Earth Engine on steroids, being able to massively do image processing and analytics at the end of this year, and then made available in an open environment for everyone, all cloud.

And then the this at the other end of the scale, Nick is this idea of, of a new REST API that is addressed towards developers. And the sort of lightweight map mapping platform that Google and mapbox have introduced for. The world for developers is going to be available at the end of this year for for millions of developers at a really affordable rate. But the difference is that we’ll have the rich GIS behind it, it isn’t really just just a simple base map, right. So our intention in that regard is to support the development of third party clients which have GIS inside.

ND: Me it’s a it’s a tricky one because people people are used to cloud it needs to kind of think of AWS and you think of kind of the resort and things like that they they, they stick with cloud, but then, you know, this is a GIS online, online feels more educational, more of more of a kind of a function of the ArcGIS service. So I, I prefer cloud, but cloud can be ambiguous. So 

ND: What is your favorite part of getting ready for the users conference?

JD: I think there’s two parts. One is looking at all the user slides and stories. That’s really exciting. Actually, it takes it takes about a week of time to go through those thousand stories, and it’s just exhausting. It’s totally exhausting. I mean, I, I don’t think there’s any other thing in my entire life that exhausts me, wears me out mentally by the end of the day. It’s like reading somebody’s PhD thesis, except there’s 1,000 of them; 2,000, 3,000 and then saying, I’m going to pick this one, as opposed to that one to put on that display.

The other one is the tech reviews. Starting about May 15 to about June 6th the different tech teams, prepare, prepare, prepare, and then get ready to present to me and others. I take the capabilities section of each thing, and I’m trying to boil that all down into the bits of their work which is thrilling, because you see all these people sharing their research for a year. Again, it’s like watching PhD presentations. And there’s dozens that go on for three weeks, three and a half weeks. It’s both thrilling and exhausting. Then I’ve got to boil that down. So those are two very interesting parts of getting ready for the user conference. 

ND: So what do you do tomorrow? Do you go back have a glass of wine and kind of rest?  

JD: Straight back. We start on Monday with our international reviews. So all the international companies come together after the big conference and share how things are going in France or in India or in China or Japan or Australia. This is huge network of companies that are each running independently. But they have lots to share in common: How they support their customers; how’s the business doing? And so next week, we’ll be all about that. We have regional boards, regional meetings, because one element that we support is our users and other one is our partners. We have that separate conference in March, and then we have all these international distributors, which is no question considerable piece of our business. It’s like 40 percent of our our revenue comes from overseas, and then they have to make their own business work. So it’s interesting. But in about two weeks I’m going to take a few days off.

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