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Google today announced that in March it will open-source its Google Earth Enterprise software, which lets organizations deploy Google Maps and Google Earth in their on-premises data center infrastructure.

Google unveiled the software back in 2006 and stopped selling it nearly two years ago. Since then, Google has released updates and provided support to organizations with existing licenses. Once it pops up online — on GitHub, under an Apache 2.0 license — organizations will be free to collaboratively or independently modify it for their own needs as open-source software.

Of course, Google is in the business of public cloud infrastructure, on top of which organizations will be free to deploy Google Earth Enterprise. And the Google Cloud Storage service already hosts imaging. Google will try to facilitate the use of these resources by publishing instructions for running Google Earth Enterprise on its public cloud, Google Cloud senior technical solutions engineer Avnish Bhatnagar wrote in a blog post.

Not all of the software will be open-sourced. Specifically, the Google Earth Enterprise Client, Google Maps JavaScript application programming interface (API), and Google Earth API won’t be — but Google Earth Enterprise (GEE) Fusion, GEE Server, and GEE Portable Server will be, Bhatnagar wrote.


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But making the server software available for free may have effects on geospatial software providers such as Esri, which fields ArcGIS Server.

Like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, Google regularly open-sources software. But like the Google Search Appliance hardware, Earth Enterprise is a relic of a Google that was open to working with companies’ existing data center resources. Google still cares about the enterprise — see its recent moves with the Google Cloud Platform as an example. But the approach is different now — more cloudy, more webby. If you want the old style, you can run it yourself.

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