Oracle’s Geospatial Capabilities for Enterprise Information Systems

By David Sonnen

In this excerpt, we outline Oracle's strategic role in the spatial information management (SIM) industry.The information extracted for this document was originally published in two IDC reports: The Structure of the Spatial Information Management Industry, ( IDC # 28246, October 2002); and Spatial Information Management: Competitive Analysis, (IDC# 28348, December 2002).

Situation Overview
Before we can explain Oracle's role in the SIM industry, we first have to outline the industry's basic structure.The Spatial Information Management (SIM) industry is being reshaped by broad spatially-enabled database management and data access capabilities that are emerging across the IT industry. We expect basic spatial information management (SIM) capabilities to be ubiquitous within data access and database management layers within 3-5 years.SIM market structure will be shaped by the following four factors during this period.

  • Open availability of basic spatial functionality in data access and database management.
  • Substantially lower cost of entry for SIM vendors that want to enter new vertical markets.
  • Substantially lower costs for IT vendors that want to include location-specific functions in their applications
  • The delivery of SIM functionality both as software and services.
As shown in Figure 1, SIM applications in both the GIS and enterprise location services and software (ELSS) segments sit over spatially-enabled data access and database management technology layers.The data management layer contains the database management technology that enterprises use to store, manipulate, and retrieve their data.From a SIM perspective, this layer is changing rapidly.Most spatial data is now managed in a commercial database rather than proprietary data stores.

This trend toward native spatial capabilities in the data management layer will continue.

Figure 1
SIM Ecosystem: Technology Relationships view
Source: ISSI/ IDC, 2002

Driven by Web requirements, data access today is increasingly independent of applications and data type.Data access is increasingly accomplished by standard-based tools like XML, SOAP..NET, and Java.Increasingly these tools handle geospatial data just like any other data type.

Oracle's spatial capabilities play a strategic role in both the database management and data access layers.

Oracle's spatial capabilities
Oracle has rolled most Oracle Spatial features into Oracle Enterprise and Oracle Standard as a no-cost feature set called Oracle Locator.This means that :

  • An object type that describes and supports points, lines, polygon geometries
  • Both R-tree and quadtree indexing
  • Spatial operators that use the spatial index for performing spatial queries
  • Open, standard SQL access to spatial operations
  • Support for third party geocoding tools
  • Comprehensive storage, management and use of geodetic data
  • Integration with Oracle9i Application Server Wireless Edition
Oracle Locator is not a solution for complex GIS applications.For such applications, Oracle recommends Oracle Spatial, an option to Oracle9i Enterprise Edition.Oracle Spatial Option provides advanced spatial functionality, like spatial functions (including area, buffer, centroid calculations), advanced coordinate systems support, linear referencing systems, and aggregate functions.Oracle will support topology in Oracle10i. Oracle has included a Map Viewer within the Oracle Application Server.This software gives developer an option of rendering map data without having to develop or license their own map rendering engine.Oracle Map Viewer will support Macromedia MX and be available as a Flash plug-in.

Oracle has an established user base within both the GIS and ELSS segments. The number of Oracle users that use SIM capabilities is hard to determine because those capabilities are blended with other Oracle features.However, Oracle sells geospatial technology through three primary channels: direct, integrators, and partners.Oracle's direct sales force has proven to be effective in large sales particularly to government agencies.Oracle works with major systems integrators on a typical project-by-project basis.

Oracle aggressively recruits 3rd party geospatial partners and aggressively keeps their partnering program open to all geospatial vendors.

Oracle's Strategic Impact on the SIM Industry
Oracle's spatial capabilities impact the geospatial industry in three specific ways:

  • Oracle's SIM functionality is now available to their 200,000 client organizations and their developer community as an integral, no-cost feature set.This fact drives significant new opportunities for SIM vendors and other technology vendors that want to spatially-enable business applications.
  • Oracle has tightly integrated spatial capabilities into their database and application server technology.This moves geospatial technology from being a specialty application to being a part of base-level information infrastructure.This simplifies the use of spatial data in business applications and removes much of the cost of using spatial data.
  • Oracle's spatial feature set is now available to the Oracle and Java developers community.This means that developers can integrate spatial features directly into business and location-based applications at relatively low costs and with minimal training.
Learn More-Related Research
  • The Structure of the Spatial Information Management Industry, ( IDC # 28246, October 2002)
  • Worldwide Spatial Information Management Forecast 2002-2006 (IDC # 26841, May 2002)
  • Structure of the Mobile Location Services Market, (IDC # 24644, May 2001)
  • Spatial Information Management: Competitive Analysis, (IDC# 28348, December 2002).
Copyright Notice
This IDC research document was published as part of an IDC continuous intelligence service, providing written research, analyst interactions, telebriefings, and conferences.Visit to learn more about IDC subscription and consulting services.To view a list of IDC offices worldwide, visit contact the IDC Hotline at 800.343.4952, ext.7988 (or +1.508.988.7988) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for information on applying the price of this document toward the purchase of an IDC service or for information on additional copies or Web rights.

Copyright 2003 IDC.Reprinted with permission from IDC.All rights reserved.

Published Wednesday, April 16th, 2003

Written by David Sonnen

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