This post addresses the use of database-centric architectures in large-scale enterprise GIS environments.  This is contrasted with the geo-centric architecture described in the previous blog post.  In the geo-centric architecture, the GIS vendor’s software is tightly coupled to the GIS database and is directly involved in managing the flow of information in and out of the database.  The database-centric architecture makes a shift to having the database management system be responsible for the GIS data.


Key elements of a database-centric architecture are as follows:

  • First, the database is the source of truth for spatial information in the organization, rather than the GIS vendor’s application database
  • The database is typically a spatially enabled relational database, e.g Oracle Spatial / Locator, SQL Server Spatial or PostGIS
  • The spatial database environment takes on an added role in managing the spatial data to address capabilities such as:
    • Long transactions
    • Conflict resolution
    • Metadata management
    • Synchronization services
    • Additional spatial capabilities, such as network modeling
  • The interface between the spatial data base and the GIS application database can be via specific integration, or more commonly, via the use of spatially-enabled ETL (Extract-Transform-Load) product technology

Spatial Data MGMT

A context diagram of the database-centric architecture is shown in the above diagram.

The use of an enterprise spatial database enables a multi-vendor GIS architecture.  This can offer some significant advantages to large scale users of geospatial technologies including elimination of redundant data entry, reduction in custom applications and a long term reduction in support and development costs.