GIS Software Technology 30th Edition (Fall 2011)
Fall 2011 GIS Software Technology 30th Edition
Since the early 1970s, Esri has continued to develop evolving GIS software technology supporting functional requirements identified by the GIS user community. Sensitivity to software development trends and enterprise architecture strategies provide guidelines for development investment. Esri software developers leverage the latest computer hardware and software technology to maintain leadership in the GIS marketplace. Resources are aligned to provide the best software and services based on GIS customer needs.
This section provides an overview of the Esri software and associated product technologies. Understanding the primary role of each member of the software family will help users identify technology needs and develop a road map for migration to successful enterprise GIS operations.
- 1 GIS Software Evolution
- 2 GIS Technology Alternatives
- 3 GIS Configuration Alternatives
- 4 Expanding GIS Technology Trends
- 5 Esri Product Family
- 5.1 ArcGIS Desktop Software Solutions
- 5.1.1 Standalone ArcGIS Desktop workstation
- 5.1.2 Connected ArcGIS Desktop workstation
- 5.1.3 Centralized ArcGIS Desktop server
- 5.1.4 ArcGIS Desktop Capacity Planning Workflow Patterns
- 5.1.5 Calculator Workflow Nomenclature
- 5.1.6 ArcGIS Desktop Standard Esri Workflows
- 5.1.7 ArcGIS Desktop Performance
- 5.2 Mobile GIS
- 5.3 ArcGIS Server Web Operations
- 5.4 Developer GIS
- 5.1 ArcGIS Desktop Software Solutions
- 6 GIS Software Selection
- 7 CPT Video: GIS Software Technology
- 8 Previous Wiki Editions
GIS Software Evolution
Figure 2-1 provides an overview of the Esri software history and the associated third-party technologies supporting GIS enterprise operations.
The early ARC/INFO software provided developers and professional GIS users with a rich toolkit for geospatial query and analysis and demonstrated the value of GIS technology. ArcView introduced easy-to-use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software that could be used directly by GIS operational users. Map Objects empowered developers with a simple way to integrate GIS in focused business application environments. Terminal servers enabled remote user access to centrally managed GIS desktop applications. ArcIMS Web services introduced a framework for publishing GIS information products to Web browser clients. ArcStorm and ArcSDE introduced better ways to maintain and share GIS data resources.
Hardware performance improvements led to more efficient programming techniques deployed in the late 1990s. ArcGIS Desktop software gave users a simple and powerful application interface for many standard GIS operations. ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Engine provide GIS developers with rich processing tools and full GIS functionality for custom application development and deployment. Distributed geodatabase management tools and replication services provide better integration and sharing of geospatial data.
Web technology introduced more ways to share data and services, introducing a new services oriented component architecture along with interoperability standards that enable open and adaptive applications developed from multi-vendor component architecture. Google and Microsoft introduced pre-processed (cached) online global basemap imagery providing free access to geographic information products from home and our mobile devices. Online data and services become an important extension of our GIS user experience. Rich internet client technology improves display performance and system scalability optimizing integration of distributed Web services and data sources. Hardware virtualization and cloud computing provide simpler ways to administer and support GIS applications and services.
Software technology migration from scripts to objects to services accelerated technology change while increasing demands on hardware performance and network connectivity. The change in technology impacted business processes in an evolutionary way opening new opportunities for GIS to support enterprise and community operations, helping customers better understand their world and make more informed decisions.
Many Esri customers developed effective enterprise solutions with the Workstation ARC/INFO and ArcView GIS software provided in the 1990s. The current ArcGIS software provides operational capabilities that were not available with the older technology. Most Esri legacy customers have migrated their data and applications to the current ArcGIS object-based geodatabase technology. New customers support enterprise GIS solutions directly with ArcGIS desktop and server software.
CY2009 saw some remarkable gains in performance and scalability of ArcGIS Server software. ArcGIS 9.3.1 introduced a map service description (MSD) document server deployment option that leverages a new graphics rendering engine, new optimize mapping tools, and worldwide access to high quality cached image base maps. ArcGIS Online, new Resource Centers, and a growing number of Esri User Forums expand and connect the GIS user community on a global scale. This was a remarkable year for GIS performance and scalability, with vendor hardware performance gains of over 70 percent and software processing loads reduced by over 50 percent, expanding entry level GIS software performance to over four times the capacity available just one year earlier.
ArcGIS 10 was introduced in summer 2010 providing a major ArcGIS Desktop user experience update. A long list of productivity enhancements and performance improvements make this a very exciting release. ArcGIS 10 also includes a variety of new collaboration opportunities hosted by ArcGIS.com which include online community basemaps, intelligent map sharing (map packages), and a free browser based ArcGIS Explorer web mapping application. ArcGIS 10 also includes fully integrated imagery management and publication tools, including a new Mosaic Dataset and image processing services. Mobile GIS expands to include iphone applications and editing options promoting the concept of crowd computing (GIS data sourcing from public cell phone Web editing tools) and enhanced mobile operations.
GIS Technology Alternatives
Current GIS technology is available to support a rapidly expanding spectrum of GIS user needs. Solutions are supported by Esri products integrated with a variety of vendor technologies. Data storage and data management technologies are growing in importance as organizations continue to develop and maintain larger volumes of GIS data. Individual server storage solutions are being replaced by more adaptive storage area networks (SANs), enhancing the IT's ability to respond to changing data storage needs and providing options for efficiently managing large volumes of data. GIS data sources include file servers, geodatabase servers, imagery, preprocessed cached data sources, and a variety of business database solutions.
Desktop ArcGIS applications can be deployed on local workstation clients or centrally managed Windows Terminal Server farms. ArcGIS Server can be deployed in workgroups, data centers, along with a growing number of Esri and third party server hosting platforms (including Cloud computing environments).
Web services are supported by ArcGIS Server and legacy ArcIMS mapping services to Web browser clients throughout the organization and the community. ArcGIS Desktop applications are able to connect to ArcGIS Server Web products as intelligent browser clients, enabling connection to unlimited data resources through ArcGIS.com as well as organization resources served through a variety of Esri customer portals. Users can access applications from the Internet or through intranet communication channels.
Mobile ArcGIS users can be integrated into central workflow environments to support seamless integrated operations over wireless or remote connected communication. ArcGIS Desktop applications can include Web services as data sources integrated with local geodatabase or file data sources, expanding desktop operations to include available Internet data sources. GIS enterprise architecture is typically supported by a combination of ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Server, and geodatabase software technology. Selecting the right combination of technology will make a big difference in the level of support for user operational needs and business productivity.
GIS Configuration Alternatives
GIS environments commonly begin with single-user workstations at a department level within the organization. Many organizations start with one GIS manager and evolve from a department level to an enterprise operation. This was common through the early 1990s, as many organizations worked to establish digital representation of their spatial data. Once this data is available, organizations expand their GIS operations to support enterprise business needs.
GIS is a very compute-intensive, data-rich, and graphics intensive technology. A typical GIS workflow can generate a remote user desktop display every 6–10 seconds, with the GIS client application providing hundreds of sequential data requests to a shared central data server for each map display. GIS workflows can place high processing demands on central servers and generate a relatively high volume of network traffic. Selecting the right configuration strategy can make a significant impact on user productivity.
Data can be shared between users in a variety of ways. Many organizations today have user workstations connected to local area network (LAN) environments that access shared spatial data on dedicated server platforms. User applications connect to shared data sources to support GIS operations.
Centralized Data Configuration Alternative
GIS desktop applications can be supported on user workstations located on the central LAN, each with access to central GIS data sources. Data sources can include GIS file servers, geodatabase servers, imagery data sources, pre-processed map cache, online Web services, and related attribute data sources.
Remote user access to central data sources can be supported by central Windows Terminal Server (WTS) farms, providing low-bandwidth display and control of central application environments.
Centralized application farms minimize administration requirements and simplify application deployment and support throughout the organization. Source data is retained within the central computer facility, improving security and simplifying backup requirements. A variety of Web map services can be consumed by standard browser clients throughout the organization. Web mapping services provide low-bandwidth access to published GIS information products and services.
Centrally hosted computing solutions provide consolidated architectures at a much lower risk and cost than similar distributed environments. For this reason, many organizations are in the process of consolidating their data and server resources. GIS can benefit from consolidation for many of the same reasons experienced by other enterprise business solutions. Centralized GIS architectures are generally easier to deploy, manage, and support than distributed architectures and provide the same user performance and functionality.
Distributed Configuration Alternative
Distributed database environments will generally increase initial system cost (more hardware and database software requirements) and demand additional ongoing system administration and system maintenance requirements. Distributed solutions are often required to meet specific operational or security requirements. Distributed systems generally increase system complexity and cost and lengthen system deployment timelines.
In most cases, standard database replication solutions do not meet the unique spatial data replication needs. Most GIS users are interested in replicating regional or selected versions of a geodatabase, which is not understood by commercial replication technologies. ArcGIS software functions provide custom geodatabase replication solutions. ArcGIS Server 9.2 provides support for distributed geodatabase replication, providing and optimum solution to satisfy distributed GIS operational needs.
Expanding GIS Technology Trends
GIS software and computer infrastructure technology continue to expand GIS deployment capabilities and introduce new business opportunities. New architecture patterns are emerging that reduce administration complexity, provide more adaptive deployment opportunities, and integrate user workflows throughout the organization and the user community. Distributed geodatabase replication technology integrates a variety of desktop, mobile, and server solutions into an adaptive geospatial communications environment connecting operations across the enterprise and throughout the community.
ArcGIS Server mapping services can be deployed directly from the data center, or geodatabase replication services can be used to provide incremental updates to ArcGIS Server web services maintained within a private or public cloud hosting infrastructure. The Cloud computing infrastructure provides a new adaptive platform environment for managing high capacity map publishing services.
Evolving Architecture Strategies
Figure 2-5 provides a simple overview of common ArcGIS deployment alternatives. Traditional department-level GIS client/server operations are looking for ways to improve access and data sharing with other organizations and introducing new emerging federated GIS architecture strategies. Traditional enterprise-level operations are looking for ways to integrate GIS with other centrally managed business operations and introducing new emerging integrated business solutions based on service-oriented architecture strategies.
Federated GIS Technology
Technology change is again being influenced by general acceptance of standard Web communication protocols and more stable and available network bandwidth connectivity. Software development is taking advantage of Internet communication standards and network connectivity with a new service-oriented enterprise architecture strategy.
The core components supporting a service-oriented architecture (SOA) are presented in figure 2-7. These components include service providers, service consumers, and implementation of a service directory.
Common Web protocols and network connectivity are essential to support this type of architecture. Business functions are encapsulated as Web services that can be consumed by Web clients and desktop applications. The SOA infrastructure connects service consumers with service providers, may be used to communicate with service directories, and may be implemented using a variety of technologies.
Business environments are influenced by the rate of technology change. Change introduces risk contributing to business success or failure. Selecting the right technology investment strategies is critical. Service-oriented architecture deployment strategies reduce business risk through diversification and reduced vendor dependence. Open standards reduce the time and effort involved in developing integrated business systems, providing integrated information products (common operating picture) that support more informed business decisions. Advantages of a service-oriented architecture are highlighted in figure 2-8.
Esri embraced open standards during the 1990s and has actively participated in the Open GIS Consortium and a variety of other standards bodies in an effort to promote open GIS technology. The initial ArcIMS Web services, Geography Network metadata search engines, Geospatial One-Stop, and the EsriPortal Toolkit technology are all examples of service-oriented solutions supporting Esri's current customer implementations. ArcGIS Server is developed from the ground up to support interoperability and data sharing. Figure 2-9 provides a view of how current Esri software supports the evolving SOA enterprise infrastructure.
The SOA framework includes multiple access layers connecting producers and consumers, based on current client/software technology and incorporating Web application and service communication tiers. Consumers connect to producers through a variety of communication paths. This framework supports a presentation tier of viewers with access to available published services, a serving/publishing tier of services, and an authoring tier of professional ArcGIS Desktop users. This framework supports current client/server connections (client applications), Web applications, and Web services—all available today with current technology. Future vendor compliance and maturity of Web interface standards are expected to gradually migrate business applications from tightly coupled proprietary client/server environments to a more loosely coupled service-oriented architecture. The ideal environment would decouple business services and workflows from the underlying software technology providing an adaptive business environment that can effectively manage and take advantage of rapid technology change.
GIS is by nature a service-oriented technology with inherent fundamental characteristics that bring diverse information systems together to support real-world decisions. GIS technology flourishes in a data-rich environment, and ArcGIS technology can help ease the transition from existing "stovepipe" GIS environments. The geodatabase technology provides a spatial framework for establishing and managing integrated business operations.
Understanding SOA and how it enables business process integration and helps control and manage technology change is important. Organizations must build an infrastructure that can effectively take advantage of new technology to stay competitive and productive in today's rapidly changing environment.
Esri Product Family
ArcGIS Desktop Software Solutions
Standalone ArcGIS Desktop workstation
ArcGIS Desktop workflows can operate as a single standalone workstation using a variety of local data sources. Desktop includes a Microsoft SQL Server Express personal geodatabase, which can operate as a synchronized replica version of a central enterprise geodatabase and host up to 4 GB of geospatial vector data (business layers). The ArcGIS Desktop workstation can also access a local File Geodatabase, which can host up to 1 TB of geospatial reference data layers (base map) incrementally updated from a central enterprise geodatabase. ArcGIS Desktop version 10 can checkout cashed map tiles for high performance local operations and leverage selected map display layers in memory cache for high performance display.
Connected ArcGIS Desktop workstation
ArcGIS Desktop user workflows can operate in a connected local area network (LAN). Standard architectures include ArcGIS Desktop workstations connected over a LAN to a central enterprise geodatabase, Web services, Image data sources, and pre-processed map cache. Servers can be hosted on physical of virtual server platforms environments. ArcGIS Desktop can author and manage an imagery Mosaic Dataset, providing a catalog/library or imagery, rasters, and associated metadata available on networked file shares. The Mosaic Dataset enables dynamic mosaicking and on-the-fly processing.
Centralized ArcGIS Desktop server
ArcGIS Desktop user workflows can use terminal clients to access centrally managed ArcGIS Desktop applications. ArcGIS Desktop can be deployed on Windows Terminal Server using Microsoft or Citrix terminal clients (most Esri customers use [Citrix XenServer (server virtualization)] terminal clients for optimum compute and display performance).
ArcGIS Desktop Capacity Planning Workflow Patterns
Calculator Workflow Nomenclature
ArcGIS Desktop Standard Esri Workflows
ArcGIS Desktop Performance
ArcGIS Desktop Disconnected Operations
The ArcGIS Server Basic license supports distributed geodatabase replication. Geodatabase replication provides loosely connected synchronization services for distributed geodatabase versions maintained in supported database platforms. Web-based disconnected check-in and checkout services are also provided. One way replication provides incremental updates for file geodatabase reference data. Distributed geodatabase replication is discussed later in Data Administration. Geodatabase replication enables standalone ArcGIS Desktop users to operate as loosely connected mobile clients.
ArcPAD Mobile Operations
ArcPAD provides an optimum platform for ad-hoc field data collection. ArcPAD can operate standalone, with occasional connection to Desktop or ArcGIS Server for checkout and data exchange. ArcPAD devices can support advanced GPS/GIS editing mobile data collection workflows.
ArcGIS Mobile applications are focused on field tasked planned from the server. Mobile operators inspect, collect, and monitor real time operations in the field. Devices include real time DGPS. ArcGIS Mobile workflows include an ArcGIS Server synchronization service (periodic wireless data exchange communications with Server and enterprise geodatabase)and an ArcGIS Mobile Provisioning service which deploys new project datasets to field devices over wireless communications. ArcGIS Mobile operations are designed for centralized management of mobile field crews.
Mobile GIS Standard Workflows
The ArcGIS Mobile workflow patterns used for the Standard Esri Workflows are documented in the Workflow Description section using the Calculator nomenclature. The ArcGIS Mobile 10 client workflow uses an MXD Light complexity 100% dynamic vector only 400x300 pixel display. The Mobile Synchronization Service uses a SOAP MXD light complexity 10% Dynamic (limited to exchanging updated features streamed to client over SOAP interchange) with 400x300 Display. Mobile provisioning service downloads 100% of the Dynamic MXD display over a SOAP connection. Figure 2-18 provides the description of the Mobile workflow calculator performance selection.
Mobile Workflow Performance
ArcGIS Server Web Operations
ArcGIS Server Applications and Services
ArcGIS images services are fully integrated with ArcGIS Desktop and Server with the ArcGIS 10 release. ArcGIS Server can provide image services from a single image catalog data source or with ArcGIS Server image extension license can leverage the Mosaic Dataset for on-the-fly image processing.
ArcIMS Web Mapping
ArcIMS was a popular solution initially deployed in 1997 for delivering dynamic maps and GIS data and services via the Web. For many years it provided a highly scalable framework for GIS Web publishing meeting the needs of corporate intranets and demands of worldwide Internet access. ArcIMS customers are rapidly moving to ArcGIS Server software to leverage the rich functionality available with the new ArcGIS Server software release. ArcGIS 9.3.1 provides a new optimized dynamic map service that outperforms equivalent map services deployed using the ArcIMS Image service. ArcGIS Server with cached map services provide high quality and high performance well beyond what was available with the legacy ArcIMS technology.
Web Mapping Software Technology Patterns
Standard Esri Web Mapping Workflows
Web Mapping Performance
EDN is an annual subscription-based program designed to provide developers with comprehensive tools that increase productivity and reduce the cost of GIS development. EDN provides a comprehensive library of developer software, a documentation library, and a collaborative online Web site that offers an easy way to share information.
GIS Web Services: GIS Web services offer a cost-effective way to access up-to-date GIS content and capabilities on demand. With ArcGIS Web Services, data storage, maintenance, and updates are handled by Esri , eliminating the need for users to purchase and maintain the data. Users can access data and GIS capabilities directly using ArcGIS Desktop or use ArcWeb Services to build unique Web-based applications. ArcGIS Online Services provide instant and reliable access to terabytes of data including street maps, live weather and traffic information, extensive demographic data, topographic maps, and high-resolution imagery from an extensive list of world-class data providers.
GIS Software Selection
Selecting the right software and the most effective deployment architecture is very important. ArcGIS technology provides many alternative architecture solutions and a wide variety of software, all designed to support specific user workflow needs.
GIS Data Source: Operations can be supported on local disk or CD-ROM, shared file servers, geodatabase servers, Imagery, preprocessed map cache, or Web data sources. Cached map services provide the highest performance and scalability. Local data sources support high-performance productivity requirements with minimum network latency. Remote Web services allow connection to a variety of published data sources, with the drawback of potential bandwidth congestion and slow performance. There are other more loosely connected architecture solutions that reduce potential network performance latency and support distributed data integration.
Desktop Applications: The highest level of functionality and productivity is supported with the ArcGIS Desktop applications. Most professional GIS users and GIS power users will be more productive with the ArcGIS Desktop software. These applications can be supported on the user workstation or through terminal access to software executed on central Windows Terminal Server farms. Some of the more powerful ArcGIS Desktop software extensions perform best on the user workstation with a local data source, while most ArcGIS Desktop use workflows that can be supported more efficiently on a terminal server farm. Selecting the appropriate application deployment strategy can have a significant impact on user performance, administrative support, and infrastructure implementations.
Web Services: The ArcIMS and ArcGIS Server technologies provide efficient support for a wide variety of more focused GIS user workflows. Web services also provide a very efficient way to share data to support remote client workflows. ArcIMS provides the most efficient way to publish standard map information products. ArcGIS Server provides enhanced functionality to support more advanced user workflows and services. Web services are a cost-effective way to leverage GIS resources to support users throughout the organization and associated user communities.
Network Services: Intranet applications can access services provided by ArcGIS Server connecting directly through the server object manager. Network services can be used to support a variety of Web and network applications.
Mobile Applications: A growing number of GIS operations are supported by more loosely connected mobile GIS solutions. ArcGIS technology supports continuous workflow operations that include disconnected editing and remote wireless operations. A disconnected architecture solution can significantly reduce infrastructure costs and improve user productivity for some operational workflows. Leveraging mobile services can provide alternative solutions to support a variety of user workflow environments.
Selecting the proper software and architecture deployment strategy can have a significant impact on user workflow performance, system administration, user support, and infrastructure requirements. The following Capacity Planning Demo provides an overview of the Calculator tab.
CPT Video: GIS Software Technology
The next chapter will discuss Software Performance, providing a much closer look at the software performance parameters and baseline performance models in the Capacity Planning Calculator.
Previous Wiki Editions
GIS Software Technology 29th Edition
GIS Software Technology 28th Edition
GIS Software Technology 27th Edition
Specific license terms for this content
System Design Strategies 26th edition - An Esri ® Technical Reference Document • 2009 (final PDF release)