This July, I visited the Hexagon office located in the Huntsville, Alabama, metro area to prepare for the upcoming release of the Power Portfolio. Huntsville, known as the Rocket City, is where the powerful Saturn V rocket was built, which was used for the 1969 Apollo 11 launch that took Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the moon.
While I was in town, the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 was taking place. As I was driving by the U.S. Space & Rocket center, located only a few minutes from the office, I began to think about how a massive software portfolio with many different products launching at the same time was actually similar to a rocket launch.
Intergraph was founded in Huntsville in 1969, the same year as the Apollo 11 launch, by engineers working with NASA and the U.S. Army. In addition to similarities in date and location, our developers also paid homage to the historic mission by naming one of our key products in the Power Portfolio “ERDAS APOLLO.”
A Closer Comparison of Software and Space Preparation
While successfully releasing new products is not exactly rocket science, at Hexagon, we approach our product launches similarly to NASA’s approach to rocket launches. Folks don’t just show up at Cape Canaveral on launch day and say, “Let’s try this and see what happens!” Whether launching a product or launching a rocket, a single error can have a massive—even catastrophic—impact.
Space agencies have zero room for error; their engineers must be meticulous about planning, communicating, training, and testing well ahead of launch day. Much like rocket launches, our product releases are months in the making. The product teams are planning, designing, building, testing, and making changes… over and over again until the product is ready for launch.
Another comparison between rocket launches and Power Portfolio has to do with their configuration. The Apollo spacecraft had three parts: a command module with a cabin for the three astronauts, (the only part that returned to Earth); a service module which supported the command module with propulsion, electrical power, oxygen, and water; and a lunar module that had two stages – a descent stage for landing on the Moon and an ascent stage to place the astronauts back into lunar orbit.
Similarly, the Power Portfolio has three suites: The Producer Suite, which allows users to collect, process, and analyze geospatial data so they can product meaningful insights; the provider suite, which provides the tools for compressing, organizing, and streaming geospatial Big Data throughout and outside of an organization; and the Platform Suite, which offers platforms to create and share information services for end users to view and interact with using web or mobile devices.
Just like the Apollo 11 mission had multiple teams working on many different requirements that all needed synchronization to accomplish the launch, the development teams at Hexagon are dedicated to their specific products, but also need to coordinate with other teams as products share components, technologies, and of course…deadlines.
The end of October will mark the launch of Power Portfolio 2020, and we are expecting a safe landing to our customer base.
With this launch, you will also notice an innovative, modern look and feel for all of our Power Portfolio 2020 products. Be one of the first to see some of the other new features on the way by registering for our upcoming ImageStation webinar, “ Catching Up and Looking Forward.”
Stay tuned to the Sensing Change Blog in the coming weeks for more in-depth looks at the new features you can expect.