Happy blog birthday, Declan, and you celebrate with insightful news. I too like the idea of Amazon’s EC2 computing-on-demand service — like Amazon’s S3 storage on demand, but where you rent processor cycles rather than networked storage. What I think it would be really useful for is server-side analysis tools for Google Earth, feeding network links.
In other words, the PHP scripts that I have running on my server for solving the traveling salesman problem in Google Earth or for finding the center of gravity could scale if they were run on EC2 (which might be necessary if they actually did something useful). And at 10 cents per computing hour, it would take very few clicks on Google ads to make this sustainable.
I’m wondering also if the open-source GeoServer might not work on this service. (Perhaps somebody already has managed to?) And since Google is very much into keeping content created for its applications in one place, semantically marked up and hosted for free (Google Earth Community, Picasa Web Albums, Google Spreadsheets), I can definitely see the logic for them in also hosting processes that enhance Google Earth.
Chris Holmes, who develops GeoServer, gave a TechTalk at Google in August. GeoServer already streams KML with code funded by Google. Might it not make a great platform for hosting services for Google Earth, on a Google version of Amazon’s EC2, free and ad-funded? I’m just speculating, but it would be really cool.
As we’ve been told repeatedly this week, ArcGIS Explorer does not want to compete with Google Earth because AGX exists primarily as a client for ArcGIS-created services and tools. But that doesn’t mean Google Earth can’t compete with ArcGIS Explorer by expanding into that market by harnessing open source apps like GeoServer.