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Google Earth Enterprise Gains Web Browser Integration

The updated software will allow IT administrators to embed a 2D view of Google Earth data into any Web application and to make enterprise mashups.

Businesses are about to get a new window to view Google Earth. Google Earth Enterprise users can now see their organization's geospatial data in 2D through a Web browser without having to resort to the 3D Google Earth Enterprise Client application.

Google on Thursday plans to update its back-end corporate geo software, Google Earth Fusion and Google Earth Server, and to make a new version of the Google Maps application programming interface (API) available. The updated software will allow IT administrators to embed a 2D view of Google Earth data into any Web application and to make enterprise mashups using external data sources and hosted geospatial data.

"Not only is it now easier for employees who need to access their organization's geo data - whether it be satellite images, terrain and elevation data or aerial imagery - to do so from almost anywhere, but they can integrate additional layers of information within their existing Web applications without ever having to leave the browser," said Matthew Glotzbach, Google Enterprise product management director, in a statement.

The ability to access geo data through a Web browser will make it easier to share geo data and will thus provide a greater return on investments in geospatial technology, said Glotzbach.

"It really works exactly the way the user experience works on the Web," said Noah Doyle, product manager for geo enterprise tools. "We using the same Maps API JavaScript and just adapting it to direct its requests to the customer's internal Google Earth database."

Google's geographic software supports the ability to subscribe to the public Google Earth server as well, allowing companies to mix and match geographic data from internal and external sources.

The new software boasts speed improvements -- up to 10x faster vector processing and 2x faster server response -- and better support for industry-standard security protocols such as LDAP and SSL.

Google declined to say how many companies are currently using Google Earth Enterprise. Instead, it provided endorsements from several companies using the product.

"By visualizing global website traffic at in Google Earth, we are building a stronger sense of community with our internal and external partners through awareness and better visibility around traffic trends and patterns," said Jamie Wills, VP of sales and marketing systems for Dell, in a statement.

"Dell Computer is using [Google Earth] in a customer service dispatch scenario, where they have a large command center for their top-tier enterprise customers," explained Doyle. "They display the status of their entire enterprise customer base on a huge screen at the front of the room. The dots turn blue, red, or green depending on the status of service incidents. In the sea of cubes where the dispatchers dealing with these incidents directly, the dispatchers are accessing the map view to overlay the specifics of the incident, the location of nearby parts, the location of technicians and so on. They're embedding the map view into their service application but also using Google Earth to create a more global intelligence perspective on the activity."

"With Google Earth's intuitive 3D geo-browsing experience, researchers can visualize data more effectively, allowing us to explore areas of interest more efficiently than ever," said Ole Martinsen, head of exploration research for Norwegian energy company Norsk Hydro, in a statement.

Google Earth comes in three flavors: Google Earth, which is free; Google Earth Plus, which costs $20 annually and includes GPS importing and other useful features; and Google Earth Pro, a $400-per-year version tuned for research, presentation, and other commercial uses. Google Earth Enterprise is pretty much the same as Google Earth Pro except that it starts at $20,000 and allows companies to deploy Google Earth securely on-site.

Google Earth Enterprise is composed of three parts: Google Earth Fusion, Google Earth Server, and Google Earth Enterprise Client. Google Earth Fusion integrates geo data from multiple sources into the Google Earth Enterprise system. Google Earth Server distributes Google Earth data across the network. Google Earth Enterprise Client provides the functionality of Google Earth Pro, as well as support for multiple servers and other additions.

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