I'm looking at replacing our corporate GIS, this is the first time that I have had the responsibility of such a task despite my years of experience with the software as an end user.

We will be looking at an ESRI platform for our desktop administrative functions but in terms of storage, database structure etc I'm beginning to realise what a minefield this is and hope that I can draw on the knowledge and experience of you good people to perhaps provide some guidance in what to look for perhaps highlight any potential pitfalls I may stumble across along the way.

My current questions are :-

  1. FGDB vs SDE (which will mean having to puchase ArcGIS for Server). How can I best justify the investment of server just for the purposes of data storage (we will be using a different vendors product for serving up our GIS data).

  2. POSTGRESQL/POSTGIS vs ArcGIS for Server - is postgresql/postgis a direct alternative to ArcGIS for Server/SDE etc or are the two completely different...and if so how ?

  3. Is it easy and straightforward to connect to POSTGRESQL/POSTGIS from within ArcGIS Desktop and edit data or does this require some other 3rd party software such as FME or GISSQUIRREL etc ?

My preference is to have ArcGIS for Desktop and ArcGIS for Server from a continuity perspective. There is also the other issue that we are looking at integrating with our other corporate systems, so ideally we only want to do this once and my concern is that if we have different bits of software for different purposes that we are going to end up with more integrations that we perhaps need.

I just want to try and avoid extra steps in processes here, from data creation, to maintenance to publishing etc etc and whilst Dekho would have been the logical step given the fact we will be using ArcGIS Desktop and potentially Server, we felt the end user (GIS desktop viewer and field viewer) requirements we best fulfilled elsewhere so we are happy to take the hit on the extra steps involved in serving our data up this way...which in all honesty isn't that big a deal as most of it is automated anyway.

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    I don't know enough about the PostGIS line, to fully answer, but I will say there are a number of considerations when looking at FGDB vs SDE. The main questions I would have on that (since you won't be doing anything web based with SDE you said), is will this be strictly storage or editing as well (if editing, single user or multi-user editing?). Will you need replication (disconnected or connected) capability? Is storage space a big concern (version tables in SDE can quickly grown DB size)? Do you need to manage permissions at the dataset or database level? Just some points to consider. – John Mar 5 '14 at 5:04
  • The Q&A format of GIS SE works best with one question per Question. I recommend that you edit it to focus on the question that is most important to you first and then to research/ask the others separately. – PolyGeo Mar 5 '14 at 10:37
  • dekhoforum.com says "from 1 June 2015, Dekho will not be developed beyond version 4.1.10. Standard support for Dekho however, will continue to be available until 31 August 2016. " – PolyGeo Jun 17 '16 at 22:53

Although someone else with more experience than I may be able to answer better, this is my understanding:

  • To edit data in a spatial database, you need ArcGIS Server (the SDE components)
  • That database can be anything, PostGIS, Oracle or SQL Server
  • You can use native geometry types in the database, which should mean you can edit/view with other software.

Downsides of ESRI stuff? Cost. Major advantages? Integration. From the SDE (setting up feature domains, which means setting allowed attribute values at the database/middleware side), to the desktop, through to ArcGIS Online and Mobile software.

All that said, I reckon I could build a nice corporate GIS from the ground up now using either PostGIS or SQL Server (pros and cons to both), QGIS, GeoServer and Leaflet. It just means more customisation, but no software fees (budget for support though!).

Something to think of for automation and data wrangling is the excellent FME. A huge time-saver, totally worth the money!

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