The recent introduction of two strong players in Web map hosting, Syncline and BeyondGeo.com, made me think that perhaps I'd jumped the gun.Perhaps before using online services, organizations needed to get comfortable with something even simpler: remote hosting.For one thing, Web map hosting, as well as other types of hosting, can be far easier to understand than a Web service model.And, since so few companies, localities or organizations host their own website, hosting an application elsewhere shouldn't be a stretch.
However, using a "real" GIS service and depending on it as part of a larger solution can be more intense.Industry leaders like Jack Dangermond and standards organizations like the Open GIS Consortium (OGC) envision a world where little bits of GIS technology lie in wait, worldwide, for applications to call upon them to do a small part of a larger task.For example, geocode this point, make me a buffer, parse out the locations from this text document, and so on.
This vision requires standards (OGC's current task) and confidence that offering only a part of a larger whole will not make a company lose its electronic shirt.Of course, offering services without a demand from customers will not work either.We are still a ways away from this componentized, interoperable GIS solution on the Web.
But, there are signs the vision is becoming reality.One good sign is CellPoint a company setting up a network solely to provide location information.It's a part of the whole solution used by those building a location-based solution.Another is the listing at Geography Network of GIS ASP services, there referred to as GeoServices.Though the list hasn't grown much since the Geography Network was launched, its very existence is a good sign.Location-based services may well be the killer app that drives GIS ASP options.
Cquay hopes so: this week the company announced a service that offers GIS functionality as a service to those interested in building location-based services.Finally, the OGC's recent work has produced outlines for standard interfaces for such things as gazeteering, geocoding and geoparsing.
Web GIS Hosting Services http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/products/Web/webgis_hosting.htm
GeoServices at Geography Network http://www.geographynetwork.com/geoservices/available.html
June 05 - Cquay Announces Commercial Release of Common Ground http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/060501Cquay.htm
Open GIS Consortium Discussion Papers http://www.opengis.org/techno/discussions.htm