Information technology goes through periodic revolutions which radically change the landscape for computer companies and software vendors and, of course, their customers. Computers began with the era of mainframes in the 1950s, followed by the emergence of mini-computers in the 1970s, and the shift to personal computers in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, we are at the beginning of a new era in computing that some have dubbed the “Third Platform” (see IDC Predictions 2013: Competing on the 3rd Platform , Global Third Platform Market 2012-2016 , or the short Wikipedia entry on the Third Platform ). With mainframes and minis being the first, and client-server computing with PC’s being the second, the third platform is one where computing is dominated by big data, mobile devices, and clouds (where distributed clusters of computers can be dynamically assembled to meet demand).
Galdos is seeking to embrace this third platform by providing tools for companies to rapidly deploy web service solutions in the cloud, particularly solutions that incorporate location, both structured and structured “big” data, and mobile clients.
Galdos has pioneered the use of XML for engineering drawings, city models, and geotechnical and aviation data and introduced the game-changing Geography Markup Language (GML) in 2001. Galdos has been developing fast parsing and processing technology for XML, using it as one of the bridge elements between structured and unstructured data, leading to much faster downloads and renderings of maps, drawings, and 3D city models. As we move this processing into the cloud, and complement it with mobile client-side support, we are able to vastly increase the ease of deployment, and the performance of third platform mobile applications that use mapping and drawing information. For an example of the improvements, watch this short video comparing the loading speed and performance of Galdos GML INspector & Autodesk LandXplorer of Galdos GML INspector & Autodesk LandXplorer .
This “third platform” approach is predicted to revolutionize how information systems are built, deployed, and used. Many new businesses, and new types of businesses, will be created using this platform, especially in domains such as transportation and logistics, e-Government, health care, and utilities. This revolution will be much more than just a move from desktop web sites to mobile web sites. It will mean the dynamic collection and utilization of data from hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of mobile devices, processing this information in a cloud, and providing equally dynamic results back to the mobile devices of the same, or different, users. The third platform will also mean the complete integration of commercial and industrial systems with social media, and with the “internet of things” – devices and sensors to monitor our health (or that of our parents), the environment, sales and marketing statistics, and a host of other applications. As just one example, think about a possible mobile mapping application for accommodations during the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage where well over a million people journey to Mecca — the ability for site and camp planners to make dynamic updates would make a huge difference in managing the people crowding into the city.
The third platform is very likely to mean an increased verticalization of businesses (think about the idea of an “app for everything”), leading to it taking less time and fewer engineering resources to get to market. Increased verticalization will also mean many more companies will get involved – creating a “longer tail” than might be seen in the past – and that these businesses will be global but will focus on very narrow business niches.
The use of NoSQL data models makes it easier to deploy and evolve complex information models. Such information models represent real-world things like businesses, health care systems, electrical and communication networks, and the relationships between people; and they determine how information is stored, searched, processed, and presented to users.
An additional component of this third platform, which is very much related to the NoSQL data model, is the handling of both structured (e.g. like a phone book) and unstructured (e.g. like a photograph) data. Traditional data management focused ONLY on structured data, as did the early wave of social media platforms. Now, however, with the third platform, and the move into the era of big data, we must support both structured and unstructured data alike.