My wife, who just loves to make fun of my enthusiasm for geekery, came home tonight literally aglow with delight over the new tools in her office: A hard-core geographical information system that rivals just about any GIS lab in the state. After cranking through maps that brought her relatively high-end desktop to a standstill, she started pushing for a more powerful system, and the new GIS support specialist in her office agreed, so he went about putting something together.
The result is a twelve-drive RAID array and fast server that not only runs GIS jobs on its dual chips but borrows extra processing power from the clients logged in to the system. The map data itself is stored in a mySQL database that allows for faster access and version control—this is a huge improvement over keeping multiple versions of projects (GIS projects can easily reach gigabytes in size) distributed across lots of desktop hard drives. Frequently used pieces of maps no longer need to be copied for each project; instead, they’re just called from the database.
Other than seeing that the maps are neat, I can’t pretend to know a whole lot about GIS. But I’m pretty sure that this is one smokin’ system.