ArcGIS Enterprise: What’s in a Name?

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19th December 2017

One thing I love about my job is seeing how all different kinds of organisations are using Esri technology to make a difference for their business and in their communities. No matter the sector, a common trend in the GIS industry has been the adoption of Web GIS. Web GIS allows us to make maps, apps and data available over the internet to anyone, anywhere, on any device. I see a lot of organisations wanting to use ArcGIS Online, but finding that for security reasons they are unable to store their data in the cloud. Enter ArcGIS Enterprise: Web GIS on your own infrastructure! Server GIS has been around for a long time, but ArcGIS Enterprise 10.6 will be only the second release since the Enterprise rebranding. So, with 10.6 just around the corner, I thought I’d write a little something on what ArcGIS Enterprise is all about.

Same Software, Different Name

I think it’s important to clarify what the Enterprise rebranding means. Enterprise is not a replacement for ArcGIS Server. ArcGIS Server is very much alive and well, as a central component of ArcGIS Enterprise. Enterprise is the umbrella term that refers to all the components that enable Web GIS on your own kit. You may already be familiar with most of these: ArcGIS Server, Portal for ArcGIS, ArcGIS Data Store and ArcGIS Web Adaptor. I won’t go into each component in depth here, it’s just important to understand that the rebranding is mostly about providing one product name to reference these interrelated pieces of software.

Well, it’s mostly about naming. Enterprise also represents a shift in how we think about deploying these components. Traditionally, a lot of people might pick and choose which of the above components to install. While this is still a totally valid option, since all these components are now sold together and are designed to be complimentary, we are increasingly seeing them deployed together as a Web GIS system. This is what we call the Base ArcGIS Enterprise deployment.

 ArcGIS Enterprise component software ArcGIS Enterprise component software

To help simplify the installation and configuration process, Esri have released the ArcGIS Enterprise Builder. This allows for the Base Enterprise deployment to be installed on a single machine with an easy-to-use wizard interface. While a single machine deployment won’t be an appropriate solution for every organisation, it is a great way to quickly get up and running. If you already know you’ll have a large number of users and services, check out this video for a really good overview of more advanced deployment options. The video also discusses how to scale your existing deployment and add functionality with additional server roles.

Why the Base Enterprise deployment

So, what are the benefits of utilising the Base Enterprise deployment over a traditional GIS server architecture? ArcGIS Server still does the same job it always has, exposing your maps and data as web services that can be consumed by a variety of client applications. When you also employ Portal for ArcGIS with the Web Adaptor, you get a web front-end almost identical to the look and feel of ArcGIS Online. This provides a central repository where users can access GIS content. If you take that a step further and federate your server site with Portal, you can provide a convenient single sign-on experience to your entire Web GIS leveraging users an existing identity store, such as Active Directory. Federation hands the security for your Web GIS to Portal, making it easy for administrators to control who has access to what content and apps. Federation also allows you to publish layers, tools and entire web maps or 3D scenes directly to your Portal from ArcGIS Pro.

ArcGIS Data Store is simply a place to put data that is copied to the server. Data Store is not necessarily intended as a replacement for your Enterprise Geodatabases, although it can be for organisations who do not wish to manage their own RDBMS. You can still house your authoritative data in an Enterprise Geodatabase, but to also use ArcGIS Data Store as your Portal’s hosting server’s managed database. ┬áBy designating a hosting server for your Portal, it enables your users to publish content to Portal themselves and also to use the Portal Analysis Tools. Single sign-on, self-service mapping, analysis tools, what’s not to like!

Remember, all of the above are simply suggestions on how to get the most out of ArcGIS Enterprise. You are still free to deploy only some of the components, even after upgrading to 10.6. This can be a complex topic, so do get in touch with your Esri UK representative to help develop a solution that works for you. Happy (web) mapping!

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