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Check out real-time analytics and full 3D publishing capabilities in ArcGIS for Server 10.3.1 at the Esri UC


The hallways at Esri are buzzing as the development teams get ready for the Esri UC in San Diego, happening in a little over two months. To get some insight into what is happening, we grabbed Jay Theodore, the CTO of the server group at Esri, and asked him a little about himself and what he is preparing for San Diego. Jay leads the ArcGIS Server and Portal for ArcGIS software development teams at Esri and as we suspected, his teams have been working on some pretty exciting developments that they want to talk to you about at the Esri UC.


Jay Theodore will be taking the scenic route to San Diego, where you will find him talking about ArcGIS for Server and all the exciting new capabilities.


What is your background?

I completed my Bachelors in Computer Science and Engineering back in India and worked briefly on Computer Graphics, CAD/CAM/CAE and early 3D printing technologies –way back in 1990. Then, I headed to Florida Tech, where I completed my Masters in Computer Science. My thesis was on Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and Graphics – research assistantship funded as part of NASA’s larger scoped design of Space
Station “Freedom” (landing dock in outer-space, for space shuttles).
Scott Morehouse hired me in 1993, to join Esri as a developer on the team that was envisioning ArcView 2.0. I’ve since worked on the core software development teams that built the various Internet Map Server products - ArcView IMS, MO IMS, ArcIMS, and now ArcGIS Server and Portal.

I love long drives, preferably inter-state/cross-country ones. They help me relax and wind-down. My dad’s a tire designer - he’s been doing this work for 54 years, and counting! -and I remember my childhood dinner conversations with him were a lot about the engineering aspects of cars, trucks and roads. I guess his passion transferred into me, and I see many shared concepts when building software. I understand that most would find this connection more than a bit weird!


Why do you like maps?


Maps are a must-have companion for my road-trips! But on a more serious note, maps tell factual things in a manner that our brains can comprehend. Lots of disparate data sources overlaid together, with visual graphics and textual elements, all rolled in an artistic or realistic manner, making it compelling for the viewer. They help us make sense of the information, drive decisions and finally,communicate the story.


Today, more than ever, technology has become a driving factor to what maps can do and how data can be layered and visualized in a map, at amazing levels of accuracy and resolution. Maps don’t just represent the data around us; they reflect our life and the world we’re in. Bringing large amounts of data and simplifying the visualization aspects of it, in order to make  it useful is indeed very exciting. As a daily decision-making tool, maps are no longer a once-in-a-lifetime road-trip companion for me!

What are some hot topics you and your team will be covering at this year’s Esri UC?


With the 10.3 release of Server, real-time GIS became a reality for Web GIS users who can now visualize real-time feeds, instantly. We’re continuing to expand our analytics capabilities to do more spatio-temporal analytics on large volumes of data flowing in real-time. A common example today is real-time analytics on IoT/sensor data. We are also adding new technology components into the ArcGIS platform to do highly parallelized geoanalytics on large volumes of archived data. We are doing this to empower users so they get faster and more accurate results
- facilitating predictive analytics and decision making.


A key aspect of interpreting the results of these analytics is visualization. It grabs your attention when you see it at a global scale and is increasingly accurate at drilled-down scales. We are very excited to work on these new capabilities in the ArcGIS platform, which will be
delivered incrementally in upcoming releases, scheduled for 2015 and 2016 calendar years.


10.3.1 is a significant release. It unleashes the full 3D capabilities of the platform. Some new aspects include the ability to publish textured buildings along with point, line, and polygon features, and elevation, terrain, and imagery layers in 3D. You can publish using Pro. Then, your Web GIS users can view and interact with these 3D WebScenes from any browser or device, from desktop to mobile, much like users are accomplishing with our 2D delivery, via WebMaps. 3D sure brings a new perspective to the world around us, and the ArcGIS platform
enables the delivery of it.  Look out for more exciting features on the horizon.


ArcGIS for Server delivers the complete Web GIS platform for enterprise customers who prefer to integrate and deploy within their own infrastructure, or within a preferred cloud platform, in a secured and compliant manner. We’re working to expand the hosted GIS capabilities of the platform while at the same time ensuring that all your enterprise GIS workflows with your enterprise data are simplified. This will make you more productive as you create information products for Web GIS consumers. We’re working to simplify deployment architectures that reflect your needs – centralized, de-centralized or distributed.


What’s the most exciting thing about the UC this year?


Most of our enterprise customers deploy the complete ArcGIS platform. That integrates well within the enterprise and brings in the secure, identity-driven Web GIS interactions, via simple, yet powerful apps. I see an explosion in the need to share, analyze and visualize data, whether it be raw, curated, authoritative, real-time or huge. This presents new challenges that we’re solving together, by working closely with our customers and their problem-space. The UC is a great venue for us to collaborate and share our vision and roadmap


What are you preparing for this year?


I plan to share the roadmap for the ArcGIS platform, as a COTS delivery. This full-stack GIS platform can be used by our Enterprise customers, deployed either on-premise or in their cloud platform of choice. There’s also a growing pattern for hybrid deployments, combining for various field/public workflows and engagements. Architecture patterns that consider security and various DevOps workflows is another area that we’re focused on talking about at this year’s Esri UC.


We see ArcGIS as a platform that can be centralized, Online or Server. The platform can be distributed across Online and on-premises portals or multiple on-premises portals within the same organization, distributed geographically or departmentally. I’m looking forward to input and feedback from users on these aspects, plus any course-correction we need to make for software aspects that we didn’t get right
in past releases.


When do you start preparing for the UC?


Preparations usually start around the beginning of the year.  We envision, plan and visualize the product that we’re designing and developing, so we can share this with users at the UC – in all its rawness. We get very useful feedback at the UC and wrap-up our development after that. Members of the development team see this as a great way for us to stay connected with our users, so we try to have the user stories right – though the software that’s in-development may not be polished enough.


Our presentations address user concerns, thoughts, ideas and direction. The product we build and talk about is only a reflection of our continued engagement with our users, beyond the UC. And if you see a typo or two in our presentations, it’s because we tried to balance the prep for presentation with the product development advancements, even during the last couple of days leading to the UC. The UC excitement is all around the software development corridors!


Aside from your software presentations, what do you look most forward to each year at the conference?


I really look forward to spending time with users, talking about what they do every day and how they’re solving real problems. Success stories are heart-warming, but the challenges faced are indeed what drives us to work closer together and build a better product – which lead to solutions, when done right. Sometimes these discussions can be intense, but they’re always appreciated for the time and effort our customers and users have invested in us.


How many UCs have you attended?


I have attended twenty two conferences!


When you aren’t at Esri creating software, what do you most like to do?


I love cars – the touring kind, which can take me on long drives. My idea of unwinding if I’m not working is a long 1000-mile drive, studying roads, people and their cars, landscape, weather and good food at the end of it all! Oh well, but I can’t do this often, so I just settle for some weekend tennis and maybe a short drive along the pacific coast – less endurance, but equally relaxing. I also like to read about and play with disruptive technologies that attempt to change human behaviors and social patterns.