REVIEWER: Steve Vu, system manager for the Internet solution division of ESRI.

BACKGROUND: For more than 30 years, ESRI has been the leading developer of GIS software with more than 300,000 clients worldwide. ESRI also provides consulting, implementation and technical support services. In addition to its headquarters in California, ESRI has regional offices throughout the United States, international distributors in more than 90 countries and more than 1,400 business partners. ESRI's goal is to provide users with comprehensive tools to help them quickly and efficiently manage and use geographic information to make a real difference in the world around them.

PLATFORMS: ESRI is currently running the Sun ONE platform on Sun Enterprise 250, 450, 220R, 280R, 420R and 6500 servers, and Ultra 10 and 60 workstations operating on the Solaris 8 operating environment, with Sun StorEdge arrays and the iPlanet Web Server, as well as key Java technologies.

PROBLEM SOLVED: ESRI understands that intense traffic and robust content require a powerful and scalable platform, an area in which Sun provides solutions and expertise. ESRI's geographic information system (GIS) combines layers of information about a particular location, which users can choose and combine depending on their needs, such as finding the best location for a new store or determining crime patterns in a city. The Geography Network is a highly active Web site ­ delivering GIS data and services to more than one million people every day, including 300,000 international organizations and 24,000 international, state and local governments, processing up to 300 requests at a time. Utilizing Sun's replicable portal solution, the Geography Network becomes a reliable new channel for the sale and distribution of GIS content.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Sun's powerful systems provide the backbone to the Geography Network, enabling the site to become an even more reliable and rich resource for sharing vast amounts of up-to-date mapping data from leading sources. Moving forward, the data provided on the site will remain highly available and easily accessible to the millions of Geography Network users.

STRENGTHS: ESRI realizes that for many end users, locating and acquiring data can be cumbersome and time intensive. Sun's powerful computing platform enables users of the Geography Network to obtain data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Additionally, Sun Remote Service, a powerful support tool, is critical to ESRI in providing the type of high- availability access to Web services required by customers.

WEAKNESSES: Sun has many technology options. ESRI established good relationships with Sun engineers to help us spec out the right equipment for our current and future needs. We think that without this help from the engineers, it would be difficult for an organization to select the appropriate technology because of the plethora of options.

SELECTION CRITERIA: ESRI chose Sun hardware, software and services based on their history of stability, interoperability with ESRI's existing server technologies and remote administration capabilities. Based on the success of the company's existing relationship and Sun's proven leadership position as a hardware and service provider, ESRI believes Sun's product strengths lie in the scalability and reliability of the company's systems, making the evolution of one of the most innovative tools on the Web endless and exciting. In addition, Sun's rock-solid platform and proven, replicable portal solution gives Geography Network users the extreme availability and reliability necessary for taking advantage of ESRI's GIS data services.

DELIVERABLES: Utilizing Sun's replicable portal solution, the Geography Network, which also includes the National Geographic MapMachine, the Associated Press' MapShop, and the mapping functionality of, becomes a reliable, new channel for the sale and distribution of GIS content. ESRI software is also behind the map service that allows users to find ATMs where the VISA card is accepted.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Sun offers Sun Remote and SunSpectrum Platinum services for 24x7 assistance and instructor-led training from Sun Educational Services that staff may use to better understand hardware management and issues.

DOCUMENTATION: ESRI uses Sun Remote Services to monitor the status of this environment and ensures immediate response in the event of a hardware problem. Additionally, ESRI has access to an array of Sun Educational Services courses. This maintenance and service agreement makes it easy for ESRI to run the Sun product.

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