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SpatialTau - The First Esri Virtual UC

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Generally the Esri UC happens mid-July every year (with some years being a little different for various reasons). So everyone looks forward to getting out of whatever hell hole they live in and spend a week in beautiful San Diego. But as with most things these days, COVID eliminates the want to spend a week with ~20,000 GIS people from around the world. The Esri UC is of course a user conference, so the show must go on as people in this position always say and onward it did.
Jack up on stage, virtually.
Jack up on stage, virtually.
It is Wednesday morning so there is still much of the conference to happen but my initial thoughts on it are that the program has been a success. Jack as always does a great job of engaging and showing empathy, regardless of your opinions about his business model, he always does a great job of framing where we are as professionals each year and this year was no exception. None of this is as polished as the plenary usually is, mostly because it just is hard to be separated and still have that flow, but it came off really well.
The plenary was split up among the days which is fine and works better for those who have to work day jobs. For me, not working right now, this was not an issue as one can get into more sessions. Esri also did a great job with the UC Central Live sessions, initially I thought they were a little bit campy but you eventually see the enthusiasm from everyone and you get a bit swept up in the “awesomeness”. I felt like there could be more interaction with UC Central Live but overall it was well done.
The sessions are a blend of pre-recorded sessions with live Q&A. For some of the bigger sessions, this format is more intimate. Sitting in those large rooms, the slides become hard to read and with people taking pictures of every slide it is very distracting. The road ahead sessions are usually my favorite and they lent themselves very well to this. After, there is a live Q&A where the typical questions are asked. This also works well because it never fails to have people trying to hear the questions in a larger setting.
I’ve been away from Esri for a couple years, 3 at Cityzenith and then over a year at Spatial Networks. So there has been some great progress with ArcGIS Enterprise (I still want to call it server) which with ArcGIS Enterprise for Kubernetes is finally a true title. I really was impressed with how the Esri team has basically rewritten ArcGIS Server to work in a distributed cloud environment. This was no small task and ArcGIS Enterprise does many things that GeoServer cannot do.
I’ve heard from the vendors that the virtual expo is a bit wonky but that isn’t really Esri’s fault. If there is one thing that is done at an expo, it is face to face meeting and zoom or teams just can’t replicate that. I still can’t get over Autodesk being an Esri vendor but this is well overdue and something that should have happened year ago, looking at you Carl Bass. I’m still working out what I’m going to do next, but this was a great primer if I’m jumping back into Esri land, we’ll just have to see.
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James Fee
James Fee @jamesmfee

Spatial, workflows and technology

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