GIS Software Technology 32nd Edition

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System Design Strategies (select here for table of contents)
System Design Strategies 32nd Edition (Spring 2013)
1. System Design Process 2. GIS Software Technology 3. Software Performance 4. Server Software Performance
5. GIS Data Administration 6. Network Communications 7. GIS Product Architecture 8. Platform Performance
9. Information Security 10. Performance Management 11. System Implementation 12. City of Rome
A1. Capacity Planning Tool A2. ESD Planning Tools A3. Acronyms and Glossary Preface (Executive Summary)

Spring 2013 GIS Software Technology 32nd Edition

Since the early 1970s, Esri has continued to develop 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.

A variety of ArcGIS software technology patterns are available to satisfy enterprise business operational needs. Technology patterns include a broad range of Desktop, Server, and Mobile deployment options. Selecting the right technology is a critical step in the enterprise system design process.


GIS Software Evolution

Figure 2-1 Evolution highlights of ArcGIS software from 1982 to present.

There is much we can learn from our past, and Figure 2-1 provides a high-level overview of the major GIS technology changes over the past 20 years. Each technology advance was a tradeoff between heavier processing loads and deploying software that was easier to build and maintain. Faster hardware processors and improved network bandwidth provide opportunities for more software innovation. As platform and network capabilities improve, new advances in software move technology forward at an increasingly rapid pace.

Software development history gives us insight into the basic principals that guide us in building the technology of the future.

Tightly scripted software code

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.

Object-relational software

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 provided developers with rich processing tools and full GIS functionality for custom application development and deployment.
  • Distributed geodatabase management tools and replication services provided better integration and sharing of geospatial data.

Service-oriented architecture

Web technology introduced more ways to share data and services, introducing a 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 mobile devices.
  • Online data and services become an important extension of the GIS user experience.
  • Rich internet client technology improves display performance and server capacity.

Cloud computing platform architecture

Hardware virtualization, data center automation, and self-service cloud computing provide simpler ways to administer and support GIS applications and services.

  • ArcGIS online provides a cloud-based self-service framework for sharing intelligent maps and building an online community basemap.
  • Free web mapping tools encourage collaboration and sharing within groups and communities throughout the web.
  • Imagery is fully integrated into ArcGIS, including a rich set of imagery management and analysis tools.
  • ArcGIS is available for mobile phones, tablets, and a variety of new mobile clients.
Best Practice: Software technology migration from scripts to objects to services and to the cloud accelerated the rate of 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 empowering business with more informed decisions.

What is ArcGIS?

GIS is easier to use, more powerful, and available in more places today than ever before.

Figure 2-2 What is ArcGIS today?

ArcGIS is a system for working with maps and geographic information. It is used to…

  • Discover: Sharing and discovering geographic information.
  • Create: Creating and using maps.
  • Manage: Managing geographic information in a database.
  • Visualize: Using maps and geographic information in a range of applications.
  • Analyze: Analyzing geospatial information.
  • Collaborate: Compiling geographic data into real time information products.

You can work with ArcGIS using a range of clients.

  • Web: Rich internet application clients connecting to web-based services.
  • Mobile: Mobile devices connected over wireless broadband connections.
  • Desktop: Workstations connected to data sources throughout the enterprise.

These services can be hosted in a range of settings:

  • Cloud services: Published and shared in the cloud.
  • Enterprise services: Web services for use within an enterprise.
  • Local services: On a local computer (and as files on disk).

ArcGIS provides an infrastructure for making maps and geographic information available throughout an organization, across a community, and openly on the web. Each GIS service can be shared within a specific workgroup or organization; within a small, well-defined user community; or publicly on the open web.

Standard ArcGIS deployment patterns:

  • Departmental: Local work area desktops connected to local data servers.
  • Centralized: Centralized geodatabase server accessed by multiple departments located throughout the enterprise.
  • Enterprise: Enterprise operations distributed over local, remote, and cloud architecture.
  • Federated: Distributed GIS operations sharing spatial data sources via web portals or replicated geodatabase services.
  • Service-oriented architecture: Workflow integration through web services and messaging.
  • Cloud computing: Hosted self-service data center operations.

GIS tends to bring business units and organizations together to solve common problems, and as such is established as an important component of enterprise operations management.

Best Practice: Enterprise system design is about selecting the right software deployed on the best platform providing the best return on investment.

Emerging technology trends

GIS is evolving as a platform for understanding our world. Geography helps us visualize our data in a unique way. GIS analysis identifies relationships between objects in space and time for intelligent spatial thinking. GIS analysis requires access to large volumes of data that have location or place information tags: i.e. addresses, place names, or lat/long attributes. The result of geospatial analysis is presented in a language we can all easily understand: Maps.

Figure 2-2a GIS architecture patterns have evolved over time with improvements in both connectivity and infrastructure technology from (1) traditional GIS departments working with local data on local desktop workstations to (4) ubiquitous collaborative environments with direct access to services and online data sources accessed from multiple devices from any location through the Cloud.
  1. Traditional GIS. Professionals in GIS departments develop and maintain data sources and create geographic information products from their local work environment. GIS users request maps prepared by a GIS analysis for use in their work. Departments throughout the Enterprise establish their own local GIS groups for building and managing operational level geographic content. GIS data is distributed as files (such as shapefiles, file-based geodatabases, personal geodatabases, SQL Express, etc.) and accessed locally.
  2. Centralized GIS. GIS data is developed and maintained in a centralized geodatabase shared by all departments throughout the Enterprise. Enterprise application workflows are established with direct user access to dynamic geographic information products used in their work. GIS data resides in centralized SDE geodatabases hosted by relational database management systems (RDBMS).
  3. GIS online sharing. ArcGIS Online shares a selection of common Cloud-hosted cached basemaps and imagery that GIS users can access across a wide area network (WAN). Communities contribute original basemap resources to enhance the ArcGIS Online cached data sources. Data packages, model packages, and intelligent maps can be shared through a secure networking portal connecting groups and organizations promoting collaboration within and among geospatial communities. Increasing Internet connectivity is a catalyst for bringing users and organizations together to solve community geospatial problems by sharing better ways to manage our world. GIS data is stored in the online cloud and accessed as either static map services (basemaps cached content) or as GIS files. These files can be shared and downloaded to be viewed or analyzed using local GIS desktop software.
  4. Services Architecture. ArcGIS Online subscription services extended GIS user access to directly create and share geospatial data services to users on any device at any location through the Cloud. Direct access to dynamic geospatial data services, configurable applications for Web and mobile phone clients, and real time geospatial data feeds over the WAN. Dynamic business layers maintained by each organization can overlay (mashup) on shared basemaps delivering rich high performance operational geographic information products. Web services are hosted on a self-service scalable infrastructure that establishes ArcGIS as a platform for geospatial information collaboration and sharing. GIS information products are published as dynamic, REST-based, loosely-coupled data services that can be consumed by all GIS applications: Desktop, Web or Mobile.

ArcGIS Online enables ubiquitous access and integrates the traditional work of geospatial professionals with a whole new world of GIS applications. It takes what have been relatively scarce commodities—stories and actionable geoinformation—and makes them abundant. Web maps provide the medium for integration and understanding and make this information widely accessible in simple forms. This widespread, easy access to geographic knowledge is what we mean by providing geography as a platform for understanding.

Selecting the right computing architecture

There are benefits of centralized operations, and there are some reasons why distributed operations may be preferred by some organizations. We can find reasons why a distributed operation may work better than a centralized one. Distributed operations require more hardware, higher administration cost, higher implementation risk, more data access problems (to centralized data sources), and reduced security. Selecting the right architecture pattern to best meet your business needs can improve user productivity and reduce operational costs.

Centralized GIS operations

Figure 2-3 Many organizations are moving to centralized operations to reduce overall cost and simplify system administration.

Figure 2-3 shows a central operations architecture with local offices sharing a central geodatabase data source. A central database architecture provides one source for the production database environment, minimizing administrative management requirements and ensuring data integrity. GIS desktop applications on the central LAN have direct access to local GIS data sources. Remote user access to central data sources can be supported by central Terminal Server farms, providing low-bandwidth display and control of application environments maintained in the Data Center. Figure 2-3 shows a centralized operations architecture.

Benefits of a centralized architecture include the following:

  • Reduced hardware cost
  • Reduced administration cost
  • Lower implementation risk
  • Improved data access
  • Improved security
  • Reduced wide-area network traffic
Best Practice: Centralized architecture generally supports the lowest-cost and lowest-risk operations.

Distributed GIS operations

Figure 2-4 Distributed solution architecture is important as GIS expands to include a variety of federated operations.

Distributed architectures require replicated copies of business data at remote locations, establishing distributed processing nodes that must maintain consistency with the central database environment. Data consistency will require controlled procedures with appropriate commit logic to ensure that changes are replicated to the associated data servers. 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. Figure 2-4 shows a distributed operations architecture.

The most common reasons for distributed architecture requirements are:

  • Organizational precedence (regional system collaboration)
  • Management confidence (critical support requirements)
  • Physical security (protect confidential information)
  • Infrastructure limitations (limited WAN connectivity)
Best Practice: When designing a system, centralized operations architecture should be established as the baseline. Distributed operations will cost more to operate and manage, and a business case should be prepared and reviewed for each distributed organization to justify these additional costs.

Enterprise architecture deployment strategies

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.

Figure 2-5 A variety of system architecture strategies are used to manage enterprise GIS operations.

Figure 2-5 shows a variety of architecture options available for enterprise GIS deployment. The core GIS can be managed within the Enterprise Data Center, hosting a maintenance geodatabase for building and managing a full range of GIS data resources. ArcGIS Desktop clients located on the Local Area Network can have direct access to central data resources. Remote desktop clients can operate with focused operational area data replicas with incremental data updates with the central geodatabase through geodatabase replication services. Remote terminal client access can be provided to ArcGIS Desktop applications hosted on a Citrix XenApp Terminal Server farm managed within the data center. Virtual Server technology can be used to reduce server administration complexity, improve deployment adaptability and better control and manage data center operations.

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.

Centralized deployment strategies
  • Local desktop clients with direct access to central maintenance geodatabase and network services.
  • Mobile GIS viewers sometimes connected to central maintenance geodatabase.
  • Remote Citrix clients accessing central Citrix servers for ArcGIS for Desktop access to central maintenance data source.
  • One-way incremental replication updates between maintenance and publishing database.
  • ArcGIS for Server web applications and services published to GIS viewers.
Distributed deployment strategies
  • Remote ArcGIS for Desktop clients accessing a local data source replicated from central maintenance geodatabase
  • Local updates are incrementally replicated to central maintenance database
Publishing geodatabase deployed in the data center or cloud
  • Incremental replicated updates from central maintenance database
  • Incremental replicated updates from remote ArcGIS for Desktop clients
  • Highly scalable published web services to a variety of GIS viewers

Organizations are expanding operations to incorporate mobile users as an integral part of their enterprise workflow. Improved availability and capacity of wireless technology support mobile communication connectivity for a growing number of GIS users

Federated architecture deployment strategies

Figure 2-6 Federated architecture patterns support community and global business requirements, providing layers of managed and published data sources at different levels of granularity.

Database and Web technology standards provide new opportunities to better manage and support user access to a rapidly growing volume of geospatial data resources. Web services and rich XML communication protocols support efficient data migration between distributed databases and storage locations. Web search engines and standard Web mapping services support integrated geospatial information products published from a common portal environment with data provided from a variety of distributed service locations. Federated architectures identified in Figure 2-6 provide better data management, integrating community and national GIS operations. Geodatabase replication services and managed extract, transform, and load (ETL) processes support loosely coupled distributed geodatabase environments.

Multi-layered data architecture patterns are becoming more common. Solutions include the standard desktop, server, and mobile patterns for each implementation level.

Regional data center operations
  • Some local municipalities share regional data centers for maintenance and publishing operations.
  • Local municipalities publish maintenance database layers to a distribution database of record for regional sharing.
National data center operations
  • Regional databases are integrated at the national level maintenance geodatabase.
  • National data is replicated to a publishing geodatabase for public web services.
  • Cloud platform can be used for publishing national web services.
Best Practice: Multiple database layers improve security and control level of data dissemination.
Note: Additional administrative layers can be included to address business needs.

Service-Oriented Architecture

Technology is changing faster each year, and organizations are searching for more effective ways to manage technology change. During the 1990s, there was a shift in programming methods promoted by commercial software acceptance of component architecture standards. Software development migrated from compiled, scripted legacy languages to object-based programming environments. ArcGIS technology is developed as common ArcObject components used to support a broad range of desktop and server software. Developing new applications and functionality in an object-based programming environment is much more powerful than developing in the traditional scripted software languages.

Figure 2-7 Service Oriented Architecture.

Figure 2-7 shows the basic SOA structure. 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.

What is services-oriented architecture (SOA)?
  • An approach for building distributed computing systems, based on encapsulating business functions as services.
  • Services can easily be accessed in a loosely coupled fashion.
The core components supporting a service-oriented architecture (SOA) are
  • Service providers: Developers publish component services available for consumption over the web.
  • Service consumers: Client applications are developed from the available component Web services.
  • Service directory: Connects client applications with Web based component services.
How important is SOA to future software deployment patterns?

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.
    • 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.

Several reasons why SOA concepts are being adopted as an architecture standard.

  • Technology change. History shows that component architecture provides a more adaptable programming environment. Services architecture moves market competition from the application level to the component service level. Open component architecture will promote technology change.
  • Business continuance. Customers can reduce vendor dependence by building applications on a services interface. Backup services can be identified to reduce critical vendor dependences.
  • Leverage investments. Customers can build enterprise applications from abroad range of vendor services.
  • Customer flexibility. Customer has more vendor choices - can use multiple vendor service solutions for a single web application.
  • Business integration. Business systems can be integrated at a services level reducing requirements for data level integration.

GIS in a service-oriented architecture

Figure 2-8 ArcGIS software promotes sharing from Desktop to Server to a broad range of client devices through a services framework.

Figure 2-8 provides an overview of the ArcGIS SOA architecture. 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 ArcGIS system of software is developed from the ground up, to support interoperability and data sharing.

ArcGIS SOA framework:

  • Authoring tier of professional ArcGIS for Desktop users.
  • Publishing tier of services.
  • Presentation tier of viewers with access to available published services.
Best Practice: ArcGIS Online can be used as a portal for publishing enterprise-wide web services.

The ArcGIS system is designed to leverage geospatial operations in the workplace. 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.

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.

Best Practice: Build enterprise operations that leverage an SOA to author, publish, and serve intelligent maps and create, analyze, and share geospatial information.

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.

Cloud deployment patterns

Figure 2-9 Cloud services fall into one of three categories, each managed by a different type of user community.
What is a Cloud?
  • On-demand self-service
  • Broad network access
  • Resource pooling
  • Rapid elasticity or expansion
  • Measured service

Cloud hosted services are growing in popularity as organizations are trying to consolidate and reduce IT costs. Figure 2-9 provides an overview of the primary Cloud deployment patterns.

What is the difference between SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS?
  • SaaS: Operational users interface directly with the cloud services.
  • PaaS: Developers interface directly with cloud-hosted application development framework.
  • IaaS: IT administrators manage software environments hosted on platforms in the cloud.

Esri has a growing number of cloud-hosted services available on Amazon and ArcGIS Online.

  • Many of the ArcGIS Online software services are hosted on the Microsoft Azure cloud.
  • Software as a Service (SAAS).
    • ArcGIS Online.
    • Esri Business Analyst Online.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS): Esri partnered with Amazon EC2.
    • Amazon ArcGIS for Server AMI.
    • Amazon enterprise geodatabase AMI

Esri Product Family: An architecture overview

Figure 2-10 The Esri product family includes an integrated mix of software developed to satisfy a full range of GIS user requirements.

Figure 2-10 provides an overview of the ArcGIS component architecture. All of these components are designed as a system to work together within an integrated enterprise GIS environment. This is the big picture of what ArcGIS has to offer in building an enterprise GIS. ArcGIS is the total system, and the components of this system work together to satisfy a variety of specific business needs.


The ArcGIS for Desktop family is developed from a common set of ArcGIS object relational executables, delivering a fully integrated set of scalable Desktop product offerings.

  • ArcGIS for Desktop was the first fully integrated product line, including Basic, Standard, and Advanced licensing to match increasing levels of functions required to satisfy user business needs.
  • ArcReader provides a free application for use in reading map documents published by ArcGIS for Desktop.
  • ArcGIS Engine delivers the ArcGIS executables for developers.
  • ArcGIS Runtime delivers lightweight sets of scalable runtime ArcGIS executables for developers.
Server GIS

ArcGIS for Server provides technology for publishing GIS services that can be consumed by ArcGIS for Desktop, mobile GIS, and standard web browsers. The ArcGIS for Server family is developed from the same set of ArcGIS executables, delivering a fully integrated set of scalable server product offerings.

ArcGIS for Server has grown over the last few releases to include imagery, SDE geodatabase access, and distributed geodatabase management within a common set of ArcGIS executables. License offerings include Basic, Standard, and Advanced, to match increasing functional levels required to satisfy user business needs.

GIS data

Data management solutions are provided for file data sources, geodatabase, and Extensible Markup Language (XML)-based formats along with imagery and pre-processed map cache.

  • Files include GIS shapefile and file geodatabase formats. ArcGIS for Server directories, configuration store, and log files must be managed from a file share. Citrix terminal server users will also require client workspace directories.
  • SDE geodatabase is used for multi-user GIS data maintenance operations.
  • Imagery is fully integrated with the ArcGIS 10 release. Imagery can be the largest file source, and can be managed by ArcGIS for Desktop clients using the mosaic dataset functionality.
  • A map cache is a file share that delivers preprocessed map tiles as high-performance basemaps for map display.
Web browser clients

A variety of web applications and browser clients extend ArcGIS access throughout the web community.

Lightweight rich Internet applications: ArcGIS offers APIs for web application development on JavaScript, Adobe Flex, Microsoft Silverlight and WPF platforms. ArcGIS for Server delivers mapping services with additional capabilities for web applications using SOAP and Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) web service APIs.

3D viewers

3D earth viewers: ArcGIS for Server delivers KML services for 3D overlay with Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth web clients. Esri also provides a free ArcGIS Explorer download that can be used as a light desktop 3D viewer.


Mobile GIS: Mobile devices extend GIS to include mobile operations and use by the general public.

  • ArcPad is an optimum application used by several Esri vendors for data-collection workflows.
  • ArcGIS for Windows Mobile connects mobile operations into enterprise GIS workflows.
  • ArcGIS on smartphone devices (iOS, Android, and Windows Phone platforms) delivers GIS for the general public.
GIS web services

GIS web services support a variety of managed, hosted, and shared GIS online services.

Online resource centers, templates, forums, web map hosting, collaboration, and global map cache all make a growing part of enterprise GIS core technology. A variety of SaaS mapping solutions are provided, including the roll-out of subscription services for publishing your own map services in the cloud.

Portal for ArcGIS provides a secure way to deploy ArcGIS Online collaboration and sharing tools within your firewall or within a private instance hosted and managed by Esri for your organization.

Developer GIS

Esri Developer Network (EDN) provides a range of technical services to the Esri developer community through a bundled low-cost developer software license.

Best Practice: ArcGIS is developed to provide a total system solution that satisfies your specific business needs. Selecting the right mix of products for your specific workflow needs is the primary goal for your system design process.

Desktop operations

Figure 2-11 ArcGIS for Desktop provides a full range of licensed products for the GIS desktop user.

Figure 2-11 shows an overview of the desktop deployment patterns. ArcGIS for Desktop provides a variety of deployment options to satisfy your specific business needs. Selecting the right deployment option for each specific user workflow is the primary role of your system design process.

Stand-alone desktop workstation

ArcGIS for Desktop workflows can operate as a single stand-alone workstation using a variety of local data sources.

  • Desktop includes a Microsoft SQL Server Express personal SDE geodatabase, which can operate as a synchronized replica version of a central enterprise geodatabase and host up to 10 GB of geospatial vector data (business layers).
  • The ArcGIS for 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 for Desktop can check out cached map tiles for high performance local operations and leverage selected map display layers in memory cache for high-performance display.

Connected desktop workstation

ArcGIS for Desktop can operate as a connected workstation client with access to local data sources, including local- and Internet-based web services.

  • ArcGIS for Desktop user workflows can operate in a connected local area network (LAN). Standard architectures include ArcGIS for Desktop workstations connected over a LAN to a central enterprise geodatabase, web services, image data sources, and pre-processed map caches.
  • ArcGIS for Desktop can author and manage an imagery mosaic dataset, providing a catalog/library of imagery, rasters, and associated metadata available on networked file shares. The mosaic dataset enables dynamic mosaicking and on-the-fly processing.

Centralized desktop server

ArcGIS for Desktop can be deployed on a centralized terminal server to support remote client operations.

  • ArcGIS for Desktop user workflows can use terminal clients to access centrally managed ArcGIS for Desktop applications.
  • ArcGIS for Desktop can be deployed on Windows Terminal Server using Microsoft or Citrix terminal clients.

-Windows terminal hosted applications have direct access to a central enterprise geodatabase, web services, image data sources, and pre-processed map cache.

Best Practice: Most Esri customers use [Citrix XenServer (server virtualization)] terminal clients for optimum compute and display performance.
CPT desktop workflows

ArcGIS for Desktop workflow performance targets are generated from the CPT Calculator tab.

Note: Workflow complexity will be discussed in greater detail in Lesson 3: GIS software performance.
Software workflow recipe

The CPT Calculator generates a workflow recipe that identifies the selected Software Technology and Performance Parameters.

Note: The System design strategies software performance chapter will provide more information on establishing appropriate workflow performance targets.
ArcGIS for Desktop Standard Workflows

The most common ArcGIS for Desktop workflow patterns are pre-generated from the Calculator tab and included on the Workflow tab as Standard Workflows.

ArcGIS for Desktop performance

The ArcGIS for Desktop workflow performance will vary, based on complexity and data source.

  • Workflow display complexity and user productivity are two key variables that contribute to hardware platform processing loads.
  • Network bandwidth and display traffic are two additional key variables that impact display performance.
  • The selected GIS data source format is another key variable impacting display performance.

Web operations

Figure 2-14 ArcGIS for Server provides a platform for publishing services supporting a broad range of Web operations.

Figure 2-14 shows an overview of the Web client deployment patterns. ArcGIS for Server includes a broad variety of web clients and service offerings developed to meet your specific workflow needs.

Potential candidate clients that access published web services include:

  • ArcGIS for Desktop
  • ArcGIS Online
  • Standard web browser applications
  • Mobile smartphone applications

Data services can be hosted in customer data centers, ArcGIS Online, and in public or private cloud.

ArcGIS for Desktop clients

ArcGIS for Server can provide REST and SOAP services to ArcGIS for Desktop, ArcGIS Engine, and ArcGIS Runtime client applications.

ArcGIS 3D clients

ArcGIS for Desktop, 3D Analyst, and ArcGIS Explorer clients can provide 3D display of web mapping services. ArcGIS for Server can publish KML layers for display on 3D Google Earth and Microsoft Visual Earth clients.

ArcGIS Online and web maps

ArcGIS Online provides access to world basemaps, map caches, community basemaps, and a variety of web maps and services.

  • You can use the standard web maps browser to create and share maps generated from web service content from or other Internet sites.
  • You can organize and manage your organization's web services online.
  • You can establish groups for sharing your web maps, data packages, applications, and data templates within your GIS community.
  • You can publish your own data in the cloud using an ArcGIS Online subscription.

ArcGIS APIs for developing web applications

A variety of software development kits (SDKs) are available for building rich Internet applications.

  • ArcGIS API for JavaScript
  • ArcGIS API for Flex
  • ArcGIS API for Silverlight
  • ArcGIS for Server also provides capabilities to publish WMS, WCS, WFS, KML, and other OGC standard-based services for use with third-party geospatial clients.

ArcGIS for smartphone web applications

ArcGIS APIs for iOS (iPhone, iPad), Android, and Windows Phone provide development frameworks promoting a variety of smart phone and tablet applications.

ArcGIS for Server hosting options

Amazon provides an optional ArcGIS for Server AMI, ready for deployment on the Amazon Cloud, with ArcGIS for Server AMI deployment in less than 10 minutes.

Imagery services are fully integrated with ArcGIS for Desktop and Server with the ArcGIS 10 release. CPT Calculator can generate workflow performance targets for a variety of imagery server deployment patterns.

ArcGIS Online provides a variety of Internet-based services, including a variety of world base maps, cached base maps, community base maps, web maps, and templates. ArcGIS Online services provide access to terabytes of data including street maps, live weather and traffic information, demographic data, topographic maps, and high-resolution imagery from an extensive list of world-class data providers.

CPT server workflows

ArcGIS for Server workflow performance targets are generated from the CPT Calculator tab.

ArcGIS for Server standard workflows

The most common ArcGIS for Server workflow patterns are pre-generated from the Calculator tab and included on the Workflow tab as Standard Workflows.

Best Practice: Use the CPT Calculator to complete a workflow analysis for each business use case, and then use the Calculator-generated workflow performance targets for your design specifications.

Standard workflows provide a reasonable performance target for light and medium software deployment use-cases. In most cases, Standard Workflows provide performance targets with adequate margins for your design.

Best Practice: The workflow recipe should be used as design specifications by the service author and software developer to ensure compliance with performance targets during system deployment.
Note: Workflow display complexity will be discussed in more detail in Lesson 3.

ArcGIS for Server performance

Client traffic bandwidth limitations contribute most to web service display performance.

  • Server processing loads are less than one second for most web mapping workflows.
  • Local high bandwidth client display performance is much faster than more bandwidth-challenged remote client display performance.
  • Bandwidth connectivity can provide a significant contribution to user productivity.
Warning: Server processing times will impact platform capacity and licensing costs, with less impact on user productivity.
Note: The default workflows shown here use a 1024x768 map display resolution—display traffic and client response time improves significantly with smaller resolution image services (600x400 pixels is quite common for many web services).

Mobile operations

Figure 2-17 ArcGIS for Server providesa platform that publishes services supporting abroad range of mobile operations.

Mobile GIS supports a range of mobile systems from lightweight devices to PDAs, laptops, smart phones, and tablets. Figure 2-17 provides an overview of the primary connected mobile workflow alternatives.

Stand-alone desktop mobile operations

All ArcGIS for Desktop products—Basic, Standard, Advanced, Engine, and Runtime can be deployed on high-end mobile systems such as laptops and tablet PCs.

  • ArcGIS for Desktop clients can check out business layers from a central SDE geodatabase to a local SQL Express personal SDE geodatabase.
  • Edits can be made in the field, with changes synchronized with the central SDE geodatabase when returning to the central location.
  • Local file geodatabases can be used to hold a personal copy of up to a terabyte of dynamic basemap layers.
  • Central geodatabase basemap changes can be synchronized to your personal file geodatabase instance when returning to the central location.
  • Cached map tiles can be checked out to local disk for use during disconnected operations.

ArcPad mobile operations

ArcPad provides focused software for mobile GIS field-data collections.

  • ArcPad provides an optimum platform for ad-hoc field data collection.
  • ArcPad can operate standalone, with occasional connection to ArcGIS for Desktop or ArcGIS for Server for checkout and data exchange.
  • ArcPad devices can support advanced GPS/GIS editing mobile data collection workflows.

ArcGIS for Windows Mobile operations

ArcGIS for Windows Mobile provides focused applications for mobile GIS operations.

  • ArcGIS Mobile operations are designed for centralized management of mobile field crews.
  • Mobile applications focus on field tasks planned from the server.
  • Mobile operators inspect, collect, and monitor real-time operations in the field.
  • Devices can include real-time DGPS.
  • Mobile operations are supported on Windows Tablet and Windows Mobile operating systems.
  • Workflows include an ArcGIS for Server synchronization service (periodic wireless data exchange communications with Server and enterprise geodatabase) and an ArcGIS for Mobile provisioning service, which deploys new project datasets to field devices over wireless communications.

ArcGIS for smartphone operations

ArcGIS for smartphone devices (iOS, Android, and Windows Phone platforms) connect to web services from lightweight, configurable mobile applications.

  • ArcGIS application for iPhone (iOS), Android, and Windows Phone provide map viewing, data collection, and query capability for public use on available smartphone devices.
  • Developers can use the ArcGIS for iOS, ArcGIS for Android, and ArcGIS for Windows Phone API runtimes to develop applications for use on those devices.
  • ArcGIS for smartphone applications operate in a connected mode, normally over standard wireless phone or Wi-Fi connections.
  • ArcGIS runtime SDKs provide developer toolkits for use in building applications for the supported smartphone environments and can use device capabilities for off-line operations.
CPT Mobile Workflows

ArcGIS for Windows Mobile Standard Workflows are generated from the CPT Calculator tab. Sample mobile standard workflows are included on the CPT Workflow tab.

ArcGIS for Windows Mobile standard workflow description

The ArcGIS for Mobile workflow description identifies the recipe used to generate performance targets for each project workflow.

ArcGIS for Windows Mobile performance

Mobile clients perform well, due to their small display and a locally cached data source. Mobile data synchronization and provisioning services perform as background processes and do not interfere with user productivity.

Best Practice: Larger client display environments will result in more network traffic and slower synchronization and provisioning response times. For example, an iPad 1024x768 map display will generate over six times more traffic than an iPhone with a 400x300 map display resolution, significantly increasing network transfer time for each synchronization or project provisioning service.

Smart phone Web applications that connected to a map service may deliver even more traffic with each display (business layers may be 100 percent of the rendered dynamic map service resulting in heavier server loads and more network traffic per display).

Developer GIS

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.

ArcGIS Online Services

ArcGIS Online services offer a cost-effective way to access up-to-date GIS content and capabilities on demand. With ArcGIS Online subscription services, data storage, maintenance, and updates are handled by Esri, providing software as a service for data management, sharing, collaborating, and publishing online. Users can access data and GIS capabilities directly using ArcGIS for Desktop or use ArcGIS Online subscription 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.

ArcGIS for Server pricing

Figure 2-20 ArcGIS for Server licensing supports a variety of scalable deployment patterns.

Figure 2-20 shows an overview of ArcGIS for Server software license patterns. ArcGIS for Server licensing is provided based on enabled service capabilities and deployed server platform capacity.

  • Service capabilities include Basic, Standard, and Advanced editions.
    • Basic—you get geodatabase management and the ability to publish feature services for map visualization and query (no editing). You also get the geometry service and the ability to publish geodata services. No extensions are available for the Basic edition.
    • Standard—you get everything in the Basic edition, plus all the GIS web service types available with ArcGIS Server. You can also support web-based editing using feature services. Finally, you can publish geoprocessing services from any tools included in ArcGIS for Desktop Standard. The Schematics extension is included, with several other extensions available for purchase.
    • Advanced—you get everything in the Basic and Standard editions, plus the ability to publish geoprocessing services from any of the tools included in ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced. You can also publish and manage mobile data services. Four powerful analytic extensions are included with this edition, plus Schematics. All other extensions are available for purchase.
  • Server capacity is established by the number of available physical or virtual server cores on the host server platforms.

GIS Software Selection

Figure 2-21 GIS enterprise solutions often include a mix of software technology and data sources carefully selected to satisfy specific operational business needs.

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 as shown in Figure 2-21.

GIS software technology alternatives.

  • What are the best data sources?
  • What user workflows should be supported by GIS desktop applications?
  • What can be supported by cost-effective web services?
  • What business functions should be supported by network services?
  • Where will mobile applications improve business operations?

Reviewing the available technology alternatives and how each performs and scales within your user environment can provide critical information needed to make the right technology decisions.

GIS data sources

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.

Note: Data selection options will be addressed in more detail in Lesson 5: GIS data administration.

Desktop applications

The highest level of functionality and productivity is provided by local ArcGIS for Desktop applications.

  • Most professional GIS users and GIS power users will be more productive with the ArcGIS for Desktop software.
  • Desktop 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 for Desktop software extensions (3D virtualization and heavy Imagery processing) perform best on user workstations with a local data source, while most desktop mapping workflows can be supported more efficiently on a terminal server farm.
Best Practice: Selecting the appropriate application deployment strategy can have a significant impact on user performance, administrative support, and infrastructure deployment savings.

Web and network services

ArcGIS for Server technologies provide efficient support for a wide variety of more focused GIS user workflows.

  • Provide an efficient way to share data to support remote client workflows.
  • Provide the most efficient way to publish standard map information products.
  • Server functionality is available to support more advanced user workflows and services.
  • Cost-effective way to leverage GIS resources to support users throughout the organization and associated user communities.

Intranet applications can access deployed geoprocessing services managing heavy processing tasks in a controlled server environment. 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.
Best Practice: Leveraging mobile services can provide alternative solutions to support a variety of user workflow environments.

Most enterprise GIS solutions include a mix of ArcGIS technology tailored to meet specific business needs. ArcGIS technology works together as an integrated system environment, with each component optimized for optimum user productivity.

Software technology cycle

Figure 2-22 Software technology cycle show the evolution of a specific software product contributes to effective GIS operations.

Selecting the right technology at the right time is one of the bigger challenges for building and maintaining effective enterprise GIS operations.

Warning: Making the right technology choice can make or break your success.

Technology is changing fast, and new innovations bring a great deal of promise.

Warning: The temptation to select technology based on promise can contribute to a painful implementation and failed expectations.
Best Practice: Selecting the right technology at the right time can lead to optimum success.
Warning: Replacing aging technology is also important, missing the performance and productivity gains delivered with new technology innovation.
Software and hardware product life cycles are getting shorter as technology improves more rapidly each year.
Do your homework.
  • Understand your business needs.
  • Review available technology opportunities.
  • Complete a design analysis before your buy.

The Capacity Planning Calculator provides a framework for modeling software performance and scalability on available hardware and network communication technology. The Calculator models what we understand about GIS technology patterns and key workflow performance parameters, relationships we can validate with well-defined test benchmarks and operational experience. For single workflows, the Calculator provides a complete software and hardware solution. For Enterprise Design solutions, the Calculator provides workflow performance targets that can be used in the Enterprise Design.

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 CPT 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 31st Edition
GIS Software Technology 30th Edition
GIS Software Technology 29th Edition
GIS Software Technology 28th Edition
GIS Software Technology 27th Edition

System Design Strategies (select here for table of contents)
System Design Strategies 32nd Edition (Spring 2013)
1. System Design Process 2. GIS Software Technology 3. Software Performance 4. Server Software Performance
5. GIS Data Administration 6. Network Communications 7. GIS Product Architecture 8. Platform Performance
9. Information Security 10. Performance Management 11. System Implementation 12. City of Rome
A1. Capacity Planning Tool A2. ESD Planning Tools A3. Acronyms and Glossary Preface (Executive Summary)

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System Design Strategies 26th edition - An Esri ® Technical Reference Document • 2009 (final PDF release)