Applications ability to pinpoint the location of your favorite coffee shop will become ubiquitous within the next three years, thanks to the rapid growth of spatial capabilities in database management, application server and data access technology, according to a recent report from International Data Corp.
The report, titled “Spatial Information Management: Competitive Analysis, 2002,” cited four factors that will cause SIM (spatial information management) capabilities to spread like wildfire: open availability of basic spatial functionality in data access and database management; a substantially lower cost of entry for SIM vendors that want to enter new vertical markets; substantially lower costs for IT vendors that want to build location-specific functions into their applications; and the delivery of SIM in both software and services.
The report gave Oracle Corp. a pat on the back for building SIM capabilities directly into its Oracle9i database. Oracle9i embeds the features at no additional cost, making it available to some 200,000 client organizations and the developer community. IBM also offers SIM features, but in an add-on to its DB2 database—DB2 Spatial Extender for Unix, Windows and Linux.
Oracle has tightly integrated spatial capabilities into its database and application server technology, moving spatial from a specialty application into a core part of the database infrastructure. The report suggested that this move has simplified the use of spatial data in business applications and removed much of the cost of implementing it. In four surveys since 1999, IDC has found that Oracle holds between an 80 and 90 percent share of the geospatial database management market.
Andrew Mendelsohn, senior vice president of Oracles server technologies division, said that geospatial data use in applications is becoming “pretty mainstream.”
“Spatial data used to be something that just scientists did for oil search drilling,” he said. He pointed to customers such as Shell Oil—which uses spatial data for oil searching and drilling—as an example of the type of customer that has traditionally implemented spatial data.
Nowadays, with the spread of wireless technology, spatial data has gone mainstream, Mendelsohn said. “You can easily convince yourself that yeah, Id like that kind of data,” he said. “There are all these cell phones wandering around now. The cell phones are required because of emergency regulations, to be able to identify within 100 yards where you are. Theres always been this vision that if I have a cell phone and Im walking down in Boston somewhere and its 9:00 and I want to go to a movie, its like, Tell me where the nearest movie theater is. There are a lot of very obvious spatial queries that everybody would like to do—tell me where the nearest Chinese restaurant is. Theres going to be a real explosion in this technology.”
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