When/Who/Why ArcSDE?

I read a lot of GIS postings that include ArcSDE in the list of preferred skills or experience, and I have been asked about ArcSDE experience in job interviews myself. But I haven’t used it yet. So I’m asking myself: what’s up with ArcSDE?

What is ArcSDE ? What does it do ?

So, basically, I understand ArcSDE acts middleware to help ArcGIS connect to a variety of RDBMS. Using ArcSDE, you could store ArcGIS geodatabases in, for example, PostGIS.

I imagine that there are  many ArcGIS users who don’t need to store their GIS data in an RDBMS because they never edit/change it, not to mention have multiple users editing data at the same time. I understand those to be some of the benefits touted by ESRI for using ArcSDE.

So, is ArcSDE really worth it ? This 3 year old thread is essential reading to answer that question. I’ve been reading a bit about connecting to spatial databases using Python (Python Geospatial Development), and the more you read about Open Source GIS, you wonder if there are ways around using something like ArcSDE.

The question arises: are there alternatives to ArcSDE if you would like to work with ArcMap (because you’re used to it) but have your data stored in, say, postGIS. The link above included a mention of zigGIS, which sounds cool, an ArcMap tool to connect directly to PostGIS. There is something I need to look at. Finally, a good reason to dig into the latest addition to my GIS library (“PostGIS in Action“.

I guess the age old conflict continues. You use ESRI software because most people do, and at the same time you hope that the Open Source community catches up so you can save your money.


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One response to “When/Who/Why ArcSDE?

  1. Pingback: ArcSDE Revisited | Arne's Adventures in GIS

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