The Safe Software Blog
Author:
Paul Nalos

About Data    |   March 14, 2012   |   By Paul Nalos

Alternatives to SimpleGeo: Remaining Options for Spatial Database Services

SimpleGeoJust under a year ago, SimpleGeo released SimpleGeo Storage, a high-performance and simple spatial database service, alongside the release of other related web services focused on mobile apps. Earlier this year it was announced that this service and others are being shut down, following an acquisition of SimpleGeo by Urban Airship and a subsequent change of focus. I never experimented with SimpleGeo’s service, so I can’t comment on its capabilities relative to its competition, but I do know (a) a lot of interesting design went into it, and (b) they saw a gap in the market before developing it.

The Many and Varied Alternatives to SimpleGeo Storage

What I find most interesting is the large number of other companies highlighting alternatives to the soon-to-be stranded users of SimpleGeo’s services. Starting with one survey of cloud database services yields a few options for spatial data: SQL Azure (based on SQL Server), Google AppEngine Datastore (spatial can be layered on top), a hosted solution for CouchDB (again with a spatial extension), and a number of MySQL-based offerings (which has some spatial support). MongoDB (not listed there) also does spatial, and at least one hosted option is available. SimpleGeo has a list of migration options that provide yet more, including Fusion Tables, GeoCommons (very interesting tools — while we’ve blogged about it a few times, today was my first look), CartoDB (based on PostGIS), and Parse. If you extend the search to others hoping to gain from the SimpleGeo shutdown, you’ll find yet more.

The Benefits of Cloud Database Services

Blogging about the release of Amazon’s DynamoDB, Werner Vogels observes a key benefit of database services over database software — you don’t have to install and manage them yourself. This simplicity isn’t the only reason people look to cloud solutions — e.g., scalability benefits can be achieved by running database software on top of cloud infrastructure — but it is valuable. At Safe, we’ve found the ease of sharing data on-the-fly with Google Fusion Tables (which also acts as a database service) helpful when demoing real-time data movement of sensor data (see Don’s video starting at 1:30).

This is clearly a time of experimentation and diversity in spatial cloud database services! Are you storing spatial data in the cloud? If so, how, and what has your experience been?

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