There are many definition of GIS, however the most widely used is the one depicted below. I like this definition due to its simplicity but also because it allows to quickly explain what are the main components of a GIS and to point out the implications that each component has in the success of a GIS deployment.
The image define GIS by its five principal components: data, software, procedures, hardware and the most important one, the user, the group of people that have the knowledge and expertise to operate the system to support the organization’s operations and to adapt it when changes in the business needs occur.
The term ArcSDE/SDE is being gradually replaced with the term “Multiuser Geodatabase” and this is probably creating some confusion among the users of the ArcGIS platform. In order to understand the difference between ArcSDE and multiuser geodatabase, let’s start clarifying what is and what is not ArcSDE.
What is not ArcSDE:
ArcSDE is not a product. It’s a technology. In the same way ArcGIS is not a product, is a platform. Only prior to ArcGIS 9.2, ArcSDE was a standalone software product. At the ArcGIS 9.2 release, ArcSDE was integrated into both ArcGIS for Desktop and ArcGIS for Server.
ArcSDE is not only the application sever connection, a piece of software that packs the giomgr.exe and a gsrv.exe processes. This is a common mistake that I have mentioned in my previous post but from a more business perspective. I’ll try to do the same exercise now but from a technical perspective.
So, what is ArcSDE – also called “the database enhanced with the ArcSDE technology” or simply the “ArcSDE geodatabase” or the “Multiuser geodatabase”?
Let’s answer this question step by step.
This is a recurrent question in my geodatabase seminars.
“ArcSDE” is a concept that has always created some confusion, and part of the reason is, I think, due to how ArcSDE has evolved overtime.
I have seen that some users tend to associate the concept ArcSDE with the “application service connections” which has been deprecated in 10.3. Sometimes, I see people mixing things up and ending up asking questions like, “Has Esri got rid of ArcSDE?”
It’s also common to see users asking in forums why they should use ArcSDE if there are many databases that support spatial data, multi-user editing, replication, and even spatial functions, as one of colleagues here in the Melbourne office found the other day. The confusion comes from the terminology used:
- Do I get the same spatial capabilities using native database spatial data versus ArcSDE enhanced spatial databases – even when both use the same spatial data types – for example, do I get the same capabilities using a MS SQLServer database using the Geometry spatial data type and a MS SQLServer ArcSDE enhanced database using Geometry spatial data type?
- Is it the same multiuser editing found in SQL Server or any other database and the multiuser editing available with ArcGIS?
- Is it the same “replication” functionality the one found in a database and the one we have with the Esri technology?
A short answer to all these questions is: – No, it is not the same.
It’s always great to hear about new products emerging that allow users to be more productive and get results much faster than doing things in a traditional way.