Data Integration in the Cloud
Written by Dale Parkinson, Senior Client Advisor, 1Spatial
Recently the FME World Tour went virtual and 1Spatial ran some incredibly popular sessions online (now available here). In previous years I have enjoyed meeting people on the FME World Tour and discussing FME, but as I was unable to do that this year, I thought it would be great to continue the conversation around cloud deployment of data integration solutions here.
1Spatial are one of only three Premier-level Managed Service Providers (MSP) globally. This Premier FME Cloud MSP status is awarded by Safe Software, the company behind FME.
But how does this status benefit your business? What is the difference between FME Cloud and FME in the cloud? And how can it work for you? I’ll try to address these questions and a few more in what follows.
FME - The Platform
Growing up, my Dad would try and teach me how to read a map. I was fascinated by all the colours and shapes that made up these pictures that were so detailed and full of codes that were alien to me. How could anyone see all that information on a page and process it to such an extent that they could make sense of a place, a road or a direction?
Soon after this, my family bought a Sat Nav and my underdeveloped skills had swiftly become redundant. I no longer needed to feed all the information on the paper through my comparatively slow processor of a brain and my Dad had gained a new robotic voiced tool that was far better (when it worked) a navigator than I ever could have hoped to have been.
Around this same time a Canadian company called Safe Software were helping forestry companies exchange maps with the provincial government. They built an application to make the work easier and they called it FME. Jump forward a few decades and FME is no longer just an application, it is a fully established platform. A platform that enables a user to release, cleanse, streamline and ultimately, make sense of, the data it consumes.
FME Desktop is the authoring environment which utilises readers, writers and transformers to create workflows that manipulate and bring meaning to raw data. FME Desktop is a ‘visual programming’ tool that makes everyone Developers, whether we realise it or not. As well as FME Desktop, FME Server is an automation tool that adds an additional layer of integration to your workflows, the ‘enterprise ready’ solution with scalability and resilience at its core. Both FME Desktop and FME Server can be deployed in your own private cloud by you or by 1Spatial for you. Alternatively, 1Spatial can host FME Server in the form of FME Cloud as a managed service which many of our customers enjoy the benefits of.
What are my options beyond the traditional?
There a several options for hosting FME beyond the traditional on-premise desktop or server deployment, behind your firewall. This is where things get interesting. Now you can choose where you put FME, which might mean you can get it closer to your data for more efficient processing and in some cases, might mean a more cost-effective way of processing it. Here we will look at the four most popular:
- What: We provision an FME Cloud (FME Server hosted in the cloud) instance for you and manage it for you. You use it.
- How: Get in touch and we can set you up with FME Cloud hosted in your desired region on AWS.
- Why: All the benefits of cloud and none of the hassle. Fully scalable. You need more power, more storage or your usage is changing? Let us know and we will do the technical work in the background to ensure FME Cloud adapts as your needs change.
- What: You deploy FME Desktop and\or FME Server on an Azure Virtual machine or an AWS EC2 instance. Or we do it for you.
- How: Acquire FME Desktop and/or FME Sever through 1Spatial - Create a virtual machine through AWS/Azure - Install FME.
- Why: Power & Freedom. No need to procure hardware. Flexibility to deploy required third-party tools.
Solution as a Service
- What: We create you a solution to solve a problem and provide you with a specific web service. Need some data synchronising between cloud systems on a schedule or want to update ArcGIS Online with the latest position of a moving vehicle? Then maybe this option is your best fit.
- How: Come to us with your challenge - We create a solution - You use the service.
- Why: A cloud hosted solution for you or your customers that just works, hassle-free.
- What: You provision FME via the Google Cloud or the Microsoft Azure Marketplace and come and get a licence from us. Bring-Your-Own-License (BYOL).
- How: Obtain your FME Desktop and/or FME Server licence from 1Spatial - Provision FME through your marketplace of choice, pay for the infrastructure, and - Use it.
- Why: Fast, easy and powerful. No software to install, as the machine images already include both FME Desktop and Server already deployed.
I recently tried the BYOL option out myself through the Azure Marketplace. I’m a bit of a Microsoft fan so this suited me, and I was even able to use some of my free Azure credits to get the machine provisioned for free! I wanted to see how quickly I could get FME Desktop and FME Server up and running, especially as that’s not something I’d normally do myself, even on-premise. I’d normally ask one of our FME Certified Professionals to do that part! Anyway, I proved that within 10 minutes you can have your first transformers in your workspace, longing to fulfil their purpose of fighting the Decepticons (Google it…) of bad-data!
What are the benefits of FME in the Cloud?
Technically you can now deploy FME in the best place to access the data you need to process. Whether on your servers or in the cloud this means flexibility without hassle. Commercially too there are lots more options, meaning there is scope to avoid upfront expense through the flexibility of subscription or pay-as-you-go pricing. In addition, a hosted FME service via 1Spatial gives you a managed service where we do the technical admin, so you don't have to.
1Spatial - Premier FME Cloud MSP
1Spatial possess vast knowledge and expertise of the FME Platform that we have garnered over the course of our 21-year relationship with Safe Software. Our relationship thrives on assurance and capability.
It was only last year that one of our clients required FME Cloud to be available in the Amazon Web Services London Region. At this point only Dublin and Frankfurt regions were available within the EU. We spoke to Safe Software and they delivered our request within a fortnight.
At 1Spatial we recognise the importance of our subject matter experts joining forces with yours. We have found that the combined expertise achieved from partnering with clients (instead of just working for them) provides cloud solutions that deliver results of extraordinary value.
1Spatial being a Premier FME Cloud MSP means that you get following benefits:
- No foreign exchange shocks - We offer a fully hosted and managed service, billed in your preferred currency.
- Procure in your familiar way - Subscription payments don't work for everyone, so we offer a purchase-order/invoicing model drawing down cloud credit.
- Managed security and updates – We monitor and manage FME Cloud on your behalf so you can do the work that really matters.
- UK/EU time-zone support – With 1Spatial, you get support when you need it, on a UK and EU – not US and Canada – time-zone.
- GCloud - You are a UK Government customer and limited to procuring through GCloud? All 1Spatial’s products and services are also available through GCloud.
- Try for free – Still not sure? Speak to us about a 200-hour free trial of FME Cloud and\or trial licences for FME Desktop and Server.
Maybe you have never used FME and are struggling to make sense of all your data like I was as a kid looking at my Dads maps. Just like the family Sat Nav, FME could be the answer to your struggles. Maybe you are an experienced FME user and you want to explore the FME Platform and realise the benefits that FME Cloud can offer. Whatever your situation, we didn't get to chat at the FME World Tour this year but let’s not wait till next year. Reach out, get in touch and say hello. I would love to hear from you.
To find out more, please visit our FME Cloud page.