The Geospatial Cloud
NorthSouth GIS NZ Ltd (NSG) had a vision to provide a Geospatial Cloud to New Zealand. By providing geospatial infrastructure and service NSG set out to spatially enable organisations that had limited access geographic information systems (GIS).
geoCirrus, as the Software as a Service (SaaS) offering became known, required a cloud provider who would be able to work in a cutting edge environment where the traditional characteristics of cloud such as flexibility, resilience, scalability, and reliability had to apply to the organisation providing the infrastructure as much as to the infrastructure itself.
NSG reviewed a number of cloud providers both large and small before choosing theCloud.
theCloud understood our needs, geospatial is a specialist industry with requirements not found in other more traditional business models. theCloud were willing to learn about our technology and adapt to our requirements. This willingness to learn about NSG’s industry has meant that theCloud have become experts in providing infrastructure suitable for geospatial needs and in doing so have enabled NSG to grow as demand for the geoCirrus service has increased.
– Chris Morris CTO at NorthSouth GIS
A cloud environment is supposed to be resilient, scalable, and performant and theCloud have demonstrated this capability on numerous occasions. The majority of NSG’s clients require high availability; the services they consume being business critical.
NSG’s clients needed to have confidence that the service they are buying from NSG will perform at the level they expect, and in turn NSG needed to have confidence in the infrastructure on which those services are hosted. theCloud are able to provide reassurance, not only by providing a reliable infrastructure backed by quality processes; but also by offering extremely high performance by using the latest hardware and technology smarts. Leveraging the capabilities of the HP 3PAR enterprise SSD tiering and applying a no-compromise approach to service delivery, theCloud can service high-demand applications such as GIS with confidence.
With three nodes spread across the country (Wellington, Auckland and Hamilton) and with daily backups, NSG are also confident with the resilience that theCloud provides.
One of the other advantages of theCloud that NSG found was the ability to talk with theCloud’s engineers. Having direct access to the engineers meant that we could discuss our needs with people we got to know commented Chris Morris, it was a great learning experience for both companies, which has helped to forge a stronger partnership.
While geoCirrus ably supported by theCloud has been a boost to NSG’s business, theCloud have been able to support NSG in other ways. NSG has offices in Wellington and Auckland and required a fast network between offices allowing for the movement of large datasets. NSG were able to use theCloud as the backbone fibre provider.
Realising the benefits of cloud based systems NSG took the decision to become as much of a thin client organisation as possible by moving many of their traditional in house applications to SaaS systems. It wasn’t just the immediate cost savings of doing so that influenced the decision to go thin, there was also a strong desire to maintain business continuity in the event of a disaster.
Xero, Office 365, Capsule CRM and so forth became the norm and while this helped to reduce NSG’s dependency on internal infrastructure they were keen to go further. The first step was to replace their in house (and aging) server environment with a virtual server in theCloud which is used to host the numerous development environments that NSG maintain. The decision was made easier because NSG could talk over various options with theCloud and pick an option which worked best.
NSG are also considering virtual desktops to replace more traditional desktop workstations. The demands of geospatial software applications often mean they do not perform well on standard virtual desktops, in particular they require powerful graphics processing. theCloud have developed a specific GIS Edition virtual workstation to meet these demands, one of the very few cloud providers to do so.
In theCloud, NSG have found an infrastructure partner that has actively taken the time to understand their business needs. theCloud have been able to respond with a service that has allowed NSG’s business to grow and which supports specialist geospatial requirements.