Introducing Boundless Server Enterprise - a new cloud-native geospatial web server – Q&A with Anthony Calamito

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DirectionsMag caught up with Anthony Calamito, Chief Geospatial Officer at Boundless to learn more about their latest endeavor.

Q: Can you tell us more about Boundless’ history?

A: Boundless was initially founded in 2001 as OpenGeo, under the parent company OpenPlans, and emerged as the independent, for-profit company Boundless in 2013. Since then, our mission has remained the same: to build the highest quality software for location and mapping, available to all.

Boundless is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, with offices in New York, Washington D.C., New Orleans, and Victoria B.C., with more than 100 employees worldwide. Since its emergence in 2013, Boundless has secured significant venture capital funding, has formed strategic partnerships with companies such as Monsanto, Planet, Spatial Networks, Mapbox and the Global SOF Foundation, and signed a multi-year contract with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

Today, Boundless offers a complete open GIS solution through a combination of technology, products, and experts that empowers state and local governments, federal agencies, and commercial enterprises to control the development of their GIS ecosystems. Unlocking the value of this location-based data enables organizations to make better decisions, answer location intelligence questions, and more fully understand their world.

Q: What are the advantages for Boundless over other server platforms or even hosting locally (i.e. Amazon, etc.)?

A: One of the key advantages to using the Boundless ecosystem over other platforms is the way in which it is designed from the ground up to work with today's modern IT infrastructure. You can certainly run Boundless Server Enterprise (BSE) on bare metal machines or traditional virtual machines, and it also works in the cloud on traditional virtual instances like those offered through AWS or Azure. This ensures that you have a solution that will work on-premises or in a private network, or as a public-facing instance on a public cloud.

What starts to set BSE apart is its ability to natively work in more modern DevOps architectures such as Docker, Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry. These deployment options take advantage of the cloud’s elastic ability to add and adjust storage and compute capacity in real-time to accommodate increased or unpredictable spikes in usage, redundancy, and failover. You no longer need to plan your IT environment out ahead of time, rather, you can let the environment scale as needed, only when needed.

Q: What users will this product benefit most? Considering most GIS users have a cloudless solution or internal servers, why this product now?

A: This product will benefit large enterprises and government agencies, who are now able to take advantage of the cloud’s elastic ability to add and adjust storage and compute capacity in real time. More location data is being generated and consumed than ever before, creating increased demand for scalable offerings that deliver application availability and responsiveness. Organizations who struggle to process large datasets, or those with a need for redundancy and failover should really look to BSE as a potential solution. Also, organizations that have unknown or undetermined infrastructure requirements, or have difficulty predicting what their infrastructure might look like in the future.

Remember that Boundless Server works on physical machines and virtual instances, both on a private network or in the public cloud. This means even users who still use rack-mounted servers, or physical virtual machine hosts, can still benefit from Boundless Server. A GIS server that can scale elastically on demand is something not found anywhere outside of Boundless. 

Q: Aside from being native cloud, what does your product do well that the industry leaders do not?

A: Being cloud-native is certainly a key aspect of Boundless Server. It allows users to take full advantage of the elasticity of the cloud and illustrates Boundless’ commitment to innovation in the geospatial community. In addition to enabling cloud-native deployments, Boundless Server also gives users:

  • Increased performance supporting millions of layers at explosive speed
  • Reliability and failover with distributed instances that can work together from multiple locations
  • Lower cost, by using only those cloud resources needed at any given time and avoiding software license models which are based on the number of servers or users
  • Ease of use with self-contained installation, simplicity of configuration and operation, and performance monitoring

Q: Security in the cloud is a key issue for any business, NGO, agency, or local government. If this product is completely cloud-based and open enterprise, how do you ensure data security?

A: Boundless works very closely with its customers to ensure that our software complies with information assurance policy standards. Our software is running on the networks of Fortune 500 companies, and within the secure, classified networks of the United States Federal Government. Boundless software integrates with your organization's identity management system (Active Directory, PKI, etc.) to ensure access to data and services is respected. We work hard to ensure the security and reliability of our software is never in question.

Q: Is this software as a service (SaaS) or does the user have to arrange for it to be hosted in Azure or AWS?

A: In short, the answer is both. We have seen most enterprise customers install Boundless Server on their own closed network or private cloud, but Boundless is happy to set up a Managed Service Offering where we manage the infrastructure on your behalf. Whatever your needs are, our team will work to accommodate them.

Q: Is this a licensed “open” software? 

A: Boundless Server is built upon the open source GeoServer, GeoWebCache and PostGIS projects, and includes additional components and capabilities that makes it scalable and cloud-native. Boundless offers Boundless Server as a subscription that includes support and maintenance to ensure customer success. We never charge for open source software. 

All of the Boundless Server documentation is open source (Creative Commons license) and can be found on our customer care portal, Boundless Connect (https://connect.boundlessgeo.com/Documentation). In addition, self-paced eLearning tutorials are also freely available via Boundless Connect (https://connect.boundlessgeo.com/Learn/Boundless-Server-Learning). Boundless will be offering in-classroom training on Boundless Server later this year.

Read more about the launch of Boundless Server Enterprise:

Press release: https://boundlessgeo.com/press_releases/boundless-launches-massively-scalable-geospatial-server-enterprise/

Blog: https://boundlessgeo.com/2018/01/flexible-limitless-cloud-native-geospatial-server/

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