21 April, 2020

How to navigate the world of multi-cloud and multi-content providers

Earth Observations (EO) is entering a golden age - the availability, quality and sheer quantity of data being collected from satellites orbiting the Earth is unprecedented. 

No single source of satellite data can address all use cases and there are substantial overheads associated with moving petabytes of data from a variety of sources. As a result, there is a push for multi cloud environments and multi content access to help organisations make better decisions about the world we live in. 

But what does multi cloud mean? What factors need to be considered by an organisation when operating a multi cloud environment? And what are the common ways to access commercial EO content?

First up, multi cloud is the ability for organisations to leverage several compute and storage providers within a single architecture. There are a few factors that organisations should consider when deciding whether or not to work in a multi cloud environment.

It is recommended that you seek professional advice before making the leap however, the following questions should be considered:
  • What technology stack have you got?
  • What cloud providers offer common file formats?
  • What types of data are you analysing?
  • Does it need to be done within a cloud environment or should it be hosted on a local server?
The rapid emergence of open source, commercial and SaaS platform providers means that there are now many different frameworks for people to access and use commercial EO content within a cloud environment. These frameworks include:

1. Users can purchase EO content from a commercial provider: This means the end-user can ingest and analyse the data on a platform of their choice. Global satellite imagery provider, Planet, is an example of a content provider that offers flexibility across multiple platforms and provides data at an ambitious daily frequency. Planet satellite imagery can be purchased and ingested into other platforms, such as Google Earth Engine. 

2. Contracted use of imagery: There are commercial  EO data vendors on the market that require payment for the use of their imagery, in addition to using their own platform and preferred cloud environment. Users can access imagery that can be ingested into a single platform for analysis and storage, but has little room to move this outside the locked environment. This framework is beneficial for users who only require analysis of specific EO data for a narrow set of applications.

With data becoming more accessible and affordable, a myriad of applications and global monitoring programs have emerged, each with specific data and analysis required. It’s important for businesses to consider what environment works best for their business needs before choosing to work across multi content or multi cloud environments.

Want to find out more about multi cloud and where the EO industry is heading?

Listen to NGIS’ latest Location Matters podcast to find out more about the considerations organisations need to address when working in a multi cloud environment and where the future of EO is heading: https://ngis.com.au/Newsroom/Podcast#Im38

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