Pricing and Licensing
Let's start with pricing since I suspect that's on many people's minds. Autodesk is going with industry trends and offering the server product on a per CPU basis. There is no upfront license fee, but an annual subscription fee of $1795 per CPU is required. MapGuide Studio is $495 per user with the option of a subscription. The server fee is likely to be lower than "old" MapGuide pricing, which was far more complex. Existing MapGuide 6.5 users can upgrade to MapGuide Enterprise for a small administrative fee. (That group can also get a letter of assurance from Autodesk that it will support the existing MapGuide for a minimum of three years.)
Licensing is interesting specifically to third party developers of MapGuide Enterprise. Why? Because MapGuide Open Source and Enterprise tap into licensed software from the likes of Sleepycat for its Berkeley DB. Should developers wish to distribute the open source version, they'll need to negotiate with Sleepycat and others for licenses. Distributing MapGuide Enterprise is much simpler since Autodesk has already set up those licenses.
Differentiating Commercial and Open Source Versions
The burning question for many, after hearing that an open source and an Autodesk branded version of MapGuide would be available, is: what's the difference? In short:
- The Autodesk version uses commercial coordinate system software from Mentor Software (Norm Olsen's code) and the open source version uses Proj4 (open source).
- The Autodesk version includes database connectors (FDOs) for Oracle and SQL Server, Autodesk-created documentation and assurance that products work with specific databases.
- The Autodesk version is available in English, Japanese, French, Italian and German and the open source version is available in English and Japanese.
- The Autodesk one comes with Autodesk support. The open source one comes with support from the MapGuide Open Source community.
- The Autodesk version costs money. The open source one does not. Both may require further fee-based enhancements, consulting, training, etc.
The four people (!) who briefed me on the rollout included Andrew Mackles, the GIS Product Line Manager for Autodesk's Infrastructure Solutions Division. After introducing the product, he highlighted how the Open Source Geospatial Foundation, OSGeo had grown since its announcement last fall. It now hosts eight projects, has a 33% increase in registered OSGeo members month to month, has a 27% growth in membership in the MapGuide Open Source project, and had a Japanese launch in early May. Autodesk is particularly proud that 20% of those who visit the MapGuide Open Source project website download the software.
Mackles noted that when it comes to marketing MapGuide Enterprise and open source, Autodesk is "letting OSGeo lead." As the company travels to Where 2.0, OSCON, GeoWeb 2006, FOSS4G and INTERGEO, it will be showing the software in an OSGeo booth.
Resellers and Developers
Autodesk resellers and developers are expected to share in the MapGuide Enterprise success. While most existing MapGuide resellers will take on the new version, several MapServer implementers will also serve as resellers including Canada's DM Solutions and Japan's Orkney. Mackles did note that any Autodesk authorized reseller can resell MapGuide Enterprise; there are no special requirements. "There's more money to be made in services than in software," he reiterated, suggesting resellers who understand that can make good money.
Autodesk expects to sell a good deal of MapGuide Studio to the open source server users, Mackles noted. "They need to publish maps, too." Developers are slowly migrating to the new platform. "It's an evolution, not a revolution," he observes, listing off tools to move data to the new form and guides to recode software.
Autodesk has executed on its announced plan and done so on time. From a corporate standpoint and the standpoint of the geospatial software marketplace, that's a plus. Unfortunately, the software is launching in a time of disarray as those looking to put maps on the Web ponder hosting their own data and services and/or tapping in to those offered by GIS companies like ESRI, MapInfo and others, and/or using a free or fee API from GYM (Google/Yahoo/Microsoft) et. al. For those that decide on the former or a combination of tools than includes hosting their own map server, MapGuide Enterprise seems to be a top notch commercial offering with the power of Autodesk behind it.