A Discussion with Scott Petronis, Envinsa Product Manager, MapInfo
MapInfo to set up a discussion about Envinsa
because, while I had seen the press releases and the references to uses
in the UK, it wasnt clear to me exactly what it did and how it was
substantially different than a major installation of MapXtreme. This is
a distillation of the discussion I had with Scott Petronis, Envinsa
Product Manager, about the product. (Directions Magazine
published an article
about the product when it first came out in 2004.)
The main take-away is that Envinsa is a true enterprise product. It
works with non-MapInfo file types and systems and is very different
from traditional MapInfo products - not necessarily because it is an
enterprise product, but because it is being sold directly into IT
departments rather than the stereotypical customers of MapInfo. A new
market and a new direction.
Envinsa works with various Business Intelligence (BI) products, Oracle
Spatial and even SDE to fully integrate distributable mapping.
MasterCard offers a good
example of how Envinsa is being used from a customers perspective.
(Note: Be sure to check out this link its pretty cool). Its an
example of pushing mapping data down to the cell phone level, providing
the ultimate in portable access to geographic information. In the case
of MasterCard, ATM locations (see link above) were the focus of their
Envinsa application. Because of the demonstrable ROI, the Master Card
case study is a terrific industry poster child for an enterprise
using existing location information and providing usable Location
Because Envinsa works with BI systems, supports non-MapInfo file types,
and can distribute LI data in several ways, it can push maps and data
to the desktop and back, to the Web, PDAs and of course, to cell
phones that are reasonably smart. It is embraced by IT departments and
works with existing installations of MapInfo on the desktop, so you
could almost argue that it is not just an enterprise solution, but an
Discussion with Scott Petronis
I asked several questions - the responses below are excerpted from that
Hal Reid (HR): The product literature says that Envinsa can reside
on customers servers or can be accessed as a Web service from MapInfo.
What is the base infrastructure that the product requires? For example,
is Oracle Spatial a requirement? Is there additional middleware that is
necessary to implement all of the products functionality? What about
the file structure, is this typical Tab, Oracle Spatial or open system,
and can you create output in various file types?
Scott Petronis (SP): It can be either - reside on the customers
servers or ours. We do several things to integrate with whatever the
customer has. Link to various databases, functionality that currently
exists (e.g. BI systems), and because this is an enterprise system, we
encourage robust storage. (Ed. note: in other words, commercial grade
databases.) We can use ESRI SDE, other formats, support open standards,
traditional IT and normal export formats.
HR: Because of similar functionality, have there been any problems
with positioning Envinsa as a unique product/platform so it is not
perceived merely as MapInfo online or MapXtreme?
SP: We found that we were successful in promoting the
product to non-existing customers. This is because it appeals to a
different category of users, more enterprise focused. We found large
customers were coming to us about Envinsa and we were able to prove it
with a new audience, for example MasterCard and NAPA. A big part of the
difference it makes are the data management capabilities, the tools and
of course, Web Services.
HR: You could read into the product literature that Envinsa can
integrate with BI systems. Are there examples of BI integrations?
SP: Envinsa is a Business Intelligence integration component. It
reads and writes data from BI tools such as MicroStrategy. It interacts
with other BI tools, too. Envinsa provides a common set of workflows
using location (geographic) data. It also provides a set of templates
to interact with BI products and there are identified workflows to
drill down geographically through the data by county, other
This is more than the map and allows for non-disruptive interaction and
integration whether the system be HR, CRM, Supply Chain or even a
traditional Business GIS functions.
HR: Reading about the mobile application side of Envinsa - access
from PDA, cell phones, etc. - I get the impression that this
functionality works best in those countries with true 3G cell systems.
Are there limitations to the functionality here in the U.S.? (My
question stems from the fact that press releases are coming from the UK
and it seems almost like a UK product.)
SP: There is certainly a business model for Europe and Asia and
that is part of the reason for success in those markets. Their focus is
beyond voice and SMS. It is more content-based browsing. Here in North
America the focus is more on SMS, workforce automations and mobile
HR: The cell phone location feature (html
demo) was very cool. Is there a standard function of where are my
buddies, co-workers, boss, etc?
SP: The demo shows similar functionality in a very simplistic
form. Our approach is to create formats that other people can read, for
example XML or even XLS, so we can be part of the integration story.
Other examples are SVG, which we do now, and FLASH, in the future. The
objective is to provide simple access to difficult (and complex)
HR: Now that you are on version 4.0, what is perceived among the
MapInfo folks as the coolest part of this product?
SP: Integration, and making integration more palatable for our
customers, so they can find better ways to be better focused. This is
so they can actually change information into understanding that is
It was obvious that Scott and his team are pumped up about this
product. This was not a shallow, marketing, Oh boy this is great,
please buy it discussion. Theyve had some great wins, and the product
is evolving quickly and becoming more interesting and more robust.