On March 20, 2015, Google deprecated Google Earth Enterprise (GEE), which had contributed greatly to the market for geospatial “Digital Earth” products for large organizations, and announced that it would stop supporting it on March 22, 2017. The company had previously announced that it would discontinue support for the Google Earth API and the Google Maps Engine, while it continued to support and promote Google Earth Engine. GEE allows organizations to store and process terabytes of imagery, terrain, and vector data on their own servers, and publish maps securely for their users to view using Google Earth desktop or mobile apps, or through their own applications using the Google Maps API.
Some thought that GEE would quickly fade away after Google stopped supporting it and its users would switch to alternative platforms that are already on the market, or build new ones. However, GEE had become essential for many of its users, including U.S. and foreign military and intelligence agencies, which did not see many viable alternatives, given their investments into the product, and the amount of work it would take to make the change. Therefore, at the beginning of 2017, Google began to prepare to open source GEE and to turn over maintenance and support of the product to three of its partner companies: NT Concepts, Thermopylae Sciences + Technology, and Navagis. See www.opengee.org.
On March 23, Google published to a GitHub repository, under the Apache 2 license, three independent components within the Earth Enterprise baseline, for a total of 470,000 lines of code: