GEOG 865
Cloud and Server GIS

Welcome to Cloud and Server GIS


Quick Facts

  • Instructor: Ryan Baxter
  • Course Structure: Online, 10-12 hours a week for 10 weeks
  • Course Authors: Sterling Quinn, Ryan Baxter, and James O'Brien


Theory and practice of cloud and server geographic information systems (GIS).

Is your understanding of Cloud GIS a bit hazy? Does thinking about it leave you in a fog? We've designed GEOG 865, Cloud and Server GIS, to help you understand how all of the various pieces of architecture fit together. This course teaches students to use cloud and server GIS resources to solve problems for which geospatial data is an integral element. We will evaluate and implement systems using three cloud service models (infrastructure services, platform services, and software services). The course will contain both exercises and critical reading and writing for infrastructure, platform, and software service models. 

It will also teach you to set up cloud services for creating maps, cloud services for managing spatial data, and cloud services for processing spatial data. This course will challenge you to exercise the critical thinking and technical skills needed to evaluate and develop successful cloud GIS projects. Assignments focus on helping students improve their ability to write about and execute cloud GIS projects. A semester-long project involves creating a working cloud GIS project, including a public presentation of results.

Geography 865 is an elective course in the Penn State online geospatial education programs.

Learn more about GEOG 865, Welcome to Cloud and Server GIS (1 min 51 sec) 

Click here for a transcript of the course introduction video.

RYAN BAXTER: I'm Ryan Baxter, a professor in Penn State's online Geospatial Education Program. I'd like to say a few words about one of our courses, Cloud and Server GIS. You've probably seen diagrams of technical GIS architectures that all contain a common feature-- it's the cloud icon with all of the lines coming out of it connecting to everything else. Everyone puts that cloud on their diagrams because they know that cloud and internet resources are a core component of their system. But for many people, the cloud is essentially a black box. It's something they need, but they don't know much about. In our Cloud and Server GIS course, you will learn precisely what's in that box. We will explore exactly what cloud and server technologies are, and how existing cloud resources can be integrated into your GIS workflows. But the bulk of the course will be spent getting hands-on experience building our own clouds. We'll use Amazon Web Services to stand up our own virtual servers and use state-of-the-art server software to create our own cloud infrastructures for storing, managing, and publishing geospatial content. In my opinion, cloud and server technologies have revolutionized the geospatial industry perhaps more than any other developments. And regardless of what aspect of GIS you work with, taking our Cloud and Server GIS course will empower you to confidently integrate cloud and server technologies into your organization-- whether you're using someone else's cloud or one you build yourself. The cloud does not need to be a black box. You can be the cloud. Take this course and learn how. When I say cloud, I mean the internet kind of cloud, not the cloud of bugs that's buzzing around my head right now.

Credit: © Penn State is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Want to join us? Students who register for this Penn State course gain access to assignments and instructor feedback and earn academic credit. For more information, visit Penn State's Online Geospatial Education Program website. Official course descriptions and curricular details can be reviewed in the University Bulletin.

This course is offered as part of the Repository of Open and Affordable Materials at Penn State. You are welcome to use and reuse materials that appear on this site (other than those copyrighted by others) subject to the licensing agreement linked to the bottom of this and every page.