Our company has millions of feature classes currently stored through ArcSDE on SQL Server 2008 R2. We are kind of slowly making our way to opensource software.

What we want to achieve is to be able to migrate all our spatial data off ESRI to opensource database, and then be able to publish the data to our intranet, and allow end users to search and view the data.

I have been thinking of a solution stack of of PostgresSQL/PostGIS, GeoNetwork and GeoServer. How much time/effort would you expect it to be? Any other best-practice recommendations?


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    I use ArcSDE on PostgreSQL using PostGIS geometry types. There is benefit of being able to edit as normal with ArcGis for the 'advanced' users and then connecting with other open source software. There was a bit of a learning curve with Postgres but since then we've had no problems. Editing with QGIS is no slower than ArcGis, response times for the database are similar to fGDB data, Postgres allows multiple databases - which is handy and then you're not cutting yourself out of the advanced geoprocessing capabilities of Esri. Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 4:46
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2 Answers 2


The solution I would recommend is the OpenGeo suite Downloadable from here. There is a free version and various paid support levels. It contains everything you have listed above with the exception of GeoNetwork, also works with QGIS (via a plugin) providing a solid Opensource stack. GeoNetwork could always be setup after the fact to seed from your Geoserver instance.

There is a bit of time and effort involved in setting up Postgresql/PostGIS for production check out the answer to the GSE question Best practices for PostGIS production environments?

The actual migration of "millions" of tables from SQL Server to PostGresql/PostGIS sounds like where all the fun is at!!!

  • Migration should be a breeze if you use SDE for PostgreSQL - just copy/paste in catalog. The fun is in creating a database; it's not as simple as file/personal geodatabase and then the next headache comes: do I register as versioned or not? QGIS doesn't care - it will edit unversioned data (only the DEFAULT version) or versioned data. Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 5:29
  • When alextc mentioned migrating from ESRI to opensource I assumed that meant off the SDE component as well. I agree using SDE with PostGIS geometries gives good flexibility when it comes to using a combination of ESRI and opensource clients, it may also serve as a stepping stone in the migration to a 100% opensource solution. Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 5:54
  • Agreed, seeing as the SDE license has already been paid for it's worth keeping at least until migration is complete if only to simplify the migration process. I say it's worth keeping the duality (Esri and Open Source), but only if geoprocessing in ArcGIS is a future requirement; QGIS does most of the major operations but no open-source can rival ArcGIS on the number of and variety of tools. Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 21:58
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    Off topic - A colleague of mine once told me ArcGIS is the swiss army knife of GIS clients, because it is the wrong tool for every job (I bet you can tell he was bias towards OS solutions). But importantly when migrating from ESRI to an OS solution you need to take stock of what functionality you do use in ArcGIS and find how you will address that in the OS world, a functionality matrix is a good place to start. Just because no product can rival ArcGIS for the number and variety of tools, does not make ArcGIS the best tool for the job! Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 0:16
  • Agreed, 100%! Working out what you need is the first step with any software migration. I think your friend may be a little bias and had possibly been burned by Esri before; the problem is that there are so many tools it's difficult to find the one you need. One thing that I will mention is that some people embrace change, others will resist it; we had one person who absolutely refused to use QGIS when we were testing it so we had to let him use ArcMap. Functionality is important but be mindful of culture change and its effects too. Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 0:35

I also recommend Geoserver/Postgres-Gis which is a good option : totally free and relatively easy. No need GeoNetwork in a first time if you just want to migrate your shapefiles.

  • You will need less than 30 minutes to understand how to manually import your shapefiles (here is a good video tutorial).

  • Once you have your geoserver installed you can easily manually import all the shapefiles you have (count 1 minute per shape).

  • If you have a huge number of shape you can also programm a small script which will do the same thing automatically. Something like that :

    1. list all shapefiles in a folder
    2. import each shapefile in your geoserver with a simple "curl" command (take a look at the GeoServer manual)

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