All the 470,000+ lines of code behind Google Earth Enterprise (GEE) are now available on GitHub under an Apache 2 license. Apache 2 essentially makes it possible for any company (or individual) to build on top of GEE and release their own commercial software.
Google launched Earth Enterprise way back in 2006 to provide enterprise customers the ability to build and host private versions of Google Earth and Google Maps. However, in an effort to narrow down its’ focus, Google decided to deprecate GEE back in 2015 and kept the product on maintenance until March this year.
Why did Google Open Source Earth Enterprise
In an ideal world, Google would want its customers to transition to using Google Earth Engine on its cloud platform instead of running on-premises versions of GEE. But many customers haven’t transitioned away from GEE to other technologies and taking into their feedback into account, Google decided to open source GEE so that the community can continue to use and develop it as they see fit.
Of course, Google did plug their cloud service in the blog that announced that GEE will go open source by essentially saying customers can use Google Cloud Platform to run their GEE instances instead of using legacy on-premises enterprise servers.
The future of ArcGIS Earth
When Google announced the deprecation of GEE, it turned to Esri to ensure its enterprise customers were not left hanging without an alternative (Related: Google & Esri). Now, with GEE being open sourced, it’s going to be interesting to see if the commercial GIS industry decides to utilize the code to provide an alternative to ArcGIS Earth.