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Maximize your success in ArcGIS platform adoption by using a prioritization approach that balances business benefits with challenges, so you can prioritize high‐value, low‐effort activities. Read more about this concept, along with 17 additional best practices in our document Architecting the ArcGIS Platform:  Best Practices at this link:

For many of our customers, installation and implementation of ArcGIS Monitor is a straightforward and quick process. Once the minimum requirements are met, most Monitor installations flow smoothly.


However, when advanced firewall and security practices are in place, these installation and configuration of ArcGIS Monitor can be much more complicated. For optimal success in highly secure environments, ask IT support staff to join in installation activities.


When the ArcGIS Monitor can’t quickly make a connection with other systems in the Enterprise ask IT to monitor the network traffic and see if any internal ports are blocking traffic. This may be an iterative process as you install the software, but without System and Process collectors, ArcGIS Monitor can't fully measure ArcGIS Enterprise Health. 


Onsite recently, in addition to opening ports 6443 and 7443 for ArcGIS Server and Portal connections, we had to request permission for ArcGIS Monitor to operate on ports 135, 49153 and 49154 on the ArcGIS Server, Portal and SQL machines in the deployment. Once these ports were opened, we could begin collecting on Memory, Network and Processing utilization. 


Collaboration between GIS Admins and IT is crucial for understanding security rules and limitations when implementing a product like ArcGIS Monitor.

An ArcGIS identity allows a person to participate in the platform; access, create, or share items as part of one or more groups; and use the platform to play a more collaborative role in the organization.




Identity Value

Identity information is used to uniquely and securely describe user access to maps, apps, data, and analysis within the ArcGIS platform. A person’s ArcGIS identity can be managed with built‐in security by ArcGIS or by federating ArcGIS with a a third‐party enterprise identity management system. Regardless of the approach, effective management of user identities and associative credentials is necessary for users to appropriately utilize and participate in the ArcGIS platform.





People access the ArcGIS platform through a role and set of privileges configured by an administrator. Roles can be tailored to individual users and their organizational responsibilities (examples include: viewer, editor, publisher, analyst, field technician, and administrator). The privileges associated with these roles ultimately permit people to join groups, access their own resources (data, maps, apps, and capabilities), and access resources that have been shared with them.




Named User

An ArcGIS Identity is managed as a named user credential within the platform. This credential is used to sign into any app, on any device, at any time, and to provide access to all maps, apps, data, and analysis a particular user is entitled to. As users sign into the ArcGIS platform with their named user credentials, their identity gives them access to authoritative data, GIS capabilities, shared content, apps, and their saved maps and items. The named user model allows an organization to securely and appropriately extend the reach of its geospatial capabilities to everyone who needs them.


Named User



Users often participate in groups, an important aspect of the ArcGIS platform sharing model. A group is a collection of items (such as maps, apps, and named users) typically related to a specific area of interest (such as a business unit, initiative, or team). Groups are useful for organizing content and controlling access. If a group is private, only members will see the group and its content.


Managing Identity

Develop A Strategy! 

Depending on the needs of the organization, user identities can be managed with built‐in security by ArcGIS, or by using a third‐party identity management system. For small implementations, an ArcGIS administrator will want to leverage the built‐in security of the Enterprise portal to manually add and configure or batch import users. The administrator would then use a simple web interface to manage these users, the roles they assume, and the privileges they are granted. For larger implementations, enterprise identities and groups (managed external to ArcGIS) will be used by the Enterprise portal to control access to the platform. These implementations can leverage enterprise credentials from an existing Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) server, an Active Directory server, or an identity provider that supports Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) 2.0 Web Single Sign On. 


ArcGIS identities provide the organization with access control around platform content and capabilities and give users the ability to discover, share, and participate in the secure environment. Two approaches are provided to give organizations options for how to implement identity management within the ArcGIS platform. Choose the approach that best enables users to accomplish their business objectives.


Download the PDF for this presentation from the 2018 Esri User's Conference: Managing Identities


Architecting the ArcGIS Platform: Best Practices

This blog post, serves as a high-level introduction to one topic that is featured in the Architecting the ArcGIS Platform: Best Practices whitepaper published by Esri. Other topics include High Availability, Load Balancing, Security, and more. Please click on the link above to learn more or post comments to ask questions and engage with Esri staff.


Best Practices

It’s important for an organization to realize that creating a purposeful and actionable training plan that aligns its needs, goals, and objectives is highly critical.


A plan that is focused on the learning and development of the workforce can be the rudder that guides them toward success. Employees gain a sense of purpose with a better understanding of where they’ve been, where they are, and how far they must go to reach their goal. The organization benefits from a more productive, efficient, skilled, and empowered staff.


Failure to have a strategic training plan in place for your workforce can lead to unsuccessful projects and initiatives, and staff without a focus and vision for their role in the organization.


Esri Training Consultants partner with organizations of all sizes and industries to assess current skills and knowledge, while building awareness and making recommendations for key learning resources. There are hundreds of resources, ranging from instructor led training to self-paced e-Learning. Engage with an Esri Training Consultant right away!

The Strategic Impact of a Training Plan


Esri Spotlight Talk - UC 2018

High availability environments for ArcGIS are becoming engrained within the critical business operations and workflows of your organization.  Defining a SLA, service level agreement, will identify your organizations percentage of required service up-time and help guide you to designing a HA solution that satisfies your organizations expectations.


Our spotlight presentation, "Considerations for a Highly Available Enterprise", at Esri's 2018 User's Conference identified the below approaches to consider while designing a Highly Available system.


Multi-machine redundancy

Redundancy can be accomplished through duplication and load balancing.  Duplication of instances reduce the number of single points of failure while load balancing is a technique for distributing client workload traffic requests across multiple system components.



System Operational Plans

Test Plans should be applied on the systems and all applications that feed into those systems.  These tests plans should not be a onetime task and done.  They need to be part of a predefined schedule.  Please test the apps and systems prior to going live and at a predetermined schedule.  Having these test plans in place and recording the test results, will help you keep tab of your systems over its life cycle.  Operational plans can include, but not limited to: Stress Testing, Performance Testing, and Testing of Fail-over functions and activities.



Health Monitoring

Prevention is certainly better than the cure, it applies to systems too!  Monitoring system health to identify and proactively address problems are key to maintaining a highly available system.  System monitoring tools are available from various sources, including Esri.  The more systems you have to manage, the greater the need for a monitoring tool.  Use the monitoring tool to monitor: CPU usage, Memory usage, Response time, Service throughput, etc.  Ensure you can configure them to execute a job, like notifying you when a system status crosses a threshold.



The approaches listed above, are just some of the strategies that are meant to minimize service downtime.  Implementing these recommended approaches along with your own organizations strategies will enable maximum up-time and provide a reliable, high performing ArcGIS environment.


Keeping these best practices in mind, you can implement these approaches in your highly available enterprise.  Here is a download to the PDF for this presentation from the 2018 User's Conference:  Considerations for High Availability 



Architecting the ArcGIS Platform: Best Practices

This blog post, serves as a high-level introduction to one topic that is featured in the Architecting the ArcGIS Platform: Best Practices whitepaper published by Esri. Other topics include IT Governance, Automation, Load Balancing, Security, and more. Please click on the link above to learn more or post comments to ask questions and engage with Esri staff.


Specific business functions impact the performance of the ArcGIS platform in different ways. By allocating workloads to appropriate server resources organized by business function, organizations can maximize performance, reduce risk, and meet business‐defined service level agreements (SLAs). By implementing geospatial function isolation, organizations can reduce the risk that high‐intensity processes will consume cycles needed to support critical applications, or that an abnormal spike in requests will disrupt service for all users.


Design Approach Value

Workload separation is a design approach that enhances performance and reliability by aligning the technical implementation with organizational business requirements. Consider different business workflows to understand how each workflow impacts compute resources, and then use segregated and preplanned resource allocation to meet the needs of each workflow. 


Workload Separation


Maximize Performance

System performance is maximized when service requests are directed to compute resources in a way that optimizes hardware and reduces resource contention. Direct service requests that are known to be central processor unit (CPU) intensive, such as complex analysis tasks, to an ArcGIS Server site containing machines with faster processors. Direct less intensive requests, such as map visualization tasks, to more modest machines. This approach makes the best use of available compute resources to achieve the highest performance.


Reduce Risk

Workload separation also reduces the risk of service interruption. System stability is enhanced because overloaded machines cannot affect other machines in the environment, which in turn protects critical tasks from resource contention. Route user requests to the appropriate sites through load balancers and deliver results securely and transparently.


Develop a Strategy!

Allocate hardware around core GIS capabilities, including data management, analysis, and visualization functions. Some organizations may have more detailed separation needs around specific business functions (such as imagery, real‐time data, or caching), hardware characteristics, or SLA definitions. Use GIS patterns, SLAs, and performance expectations to determine how to best direct workloads to appropriate compute resources.


Download the PDF for this presentation from the 2018 Esri User's Conference: Designing a Robust Environment - Workload Separation


Architecting the ArcGIS Platform: Best Practices

This blog post, serves as a high-level introduction to one topic that is featured in the Architecting the ArcGIS Platform: Best Practices whitepaper published by Esri. Other topics include High Availability, Load Balancing, Security, and more. Please click on the link above to learn more or post comments to ask questions and engage with Esri staff.


Best Practices

The GIS Health Check is a service offered by Esri's Services. It provides an opportunity to have an expert in Esri-based GIS systems review an organization's current deployment and operations.  This "hands-on" activity offers a pro-active and holistic assessment of the current system relative to the organization's objectives and other successful patterns.  The recommendations by the expert are documented in a report and may include recommendations related to system design, operations, configuration, deployment patterns, performance, availability, etc.  The PDF of the presentation slides is available for download: User Conference 2018 GIS Health Check Service Spotlight Presentation . 


The PDF includes some case studies that illustrate the motives of some customers that have used this service.  Among those was a state government organization.  They had a long history of implementing Esri technologies which gave them a wealth of experience but led them to suspect that they may have some legacy patterns that were out-of-step with the newer technology.  They also had questions about what might be responsible for various performance and reliability issues.  The Health Check exonerated some technologies and configurations as a cause of the problems, allowing focus on the real issues.  And, it allowed the organization to translate its deep knowledge to the updated patterns and practices for the technologies that they currently have deployed.

Every time a new version of ArcGIS is released I receive one particular question more often than any other.  The exact words can change but it's always something to the effect of "How am I going to move all of my users from ArcGIS Desktop to ArcGIS Pro"?   


A big part of my role at Esri is helping customers implement and configure the ArcGIS platform, and that extends to upgrading to the latest version of ArcGIS and installing the newest products. So when someone asks me this question they are usually expecting me to talk about a technology migration path for desktop users. But a straight path like that assumes users will perform a 1 for 1 swap of ArcMap for ArcGIS Pro over time, and that's often not the best way to address the underlying question. 


Instead of a need for migration I like to think of this as an opportunity for modernization. Migration generally focuses on the technology. Upgrades, patches, installing the latest product. Modernization may involve upgrading and new products but that's only a means to an end. It's really about moving to a new pattern. A paradigm shift. In our conversation about ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro that pattern is Web GIS. As we move from Desktop, to Server, to Web and eventually Distributed GIS new options present themselves that were previously unavailable. ArcGIS Pro and all of the other Web GIS native applications allow for new and powerful functionality that we can only leverage if we shift the way we look at using GIS. 


When working with users on modernization I almost always start by asking three simple questions: 


  • Who are the users? 
  • What location information do they value? 
  • What answers are they after? 


Everyone that is using ArcGIS is trying to solve a problem, ask a question, or get an answer using spatial data. That problem, question, and answer come together as a workflow and the workflow, not the technology, is what we want to focus on.  Once we answer those questions we start reviewing the existing workflows and making a workflow by workflow recommendation on how to modernize each using one of three options. 


  1. Desktop to Pro Workflow Transition: A one-to-one swap of technologies by rebuilding workflows in Pro using only out-of-the-box (OOB) functionality. If you can do it this is it's the preferred approach because it has the smallest learning curve, requires less change management and can likely be accomplished with minimal changes to data. Although you may be accessing data differently (i.e. through services instead of direct GDB editing) in many cases. This is your easy button but don't expect you can use it in every case.  
  2. Desktop to a Web GIS Enabled Product Transition: When a one-to-one swap isn't an option (or an OOB app is a better fit than Pro) you can adjust the workflow you're using in Desktop to another Esri product.   Examples could range from something as simple as using collector for offline data collection rather than an ArcGIS Desktop with checked out data on a Toughbook, to more complicated changes that effect the underlying system architecture, like using a web app template and ArcGIS services to review and approve data changes rather than using a multitude of versioned databases and spending hours reconciling the edits. This option is often the most over looked. After years of comfortably working in ArcGIS Desktop our instinct is that we either need to move a workflow to Pro or build a plugin for Pro. But with the vast ecosystem of Esri Apps that leverage Web GIS we can often find a suitable (if not preferable) replacement for a desktop workflow using an OOB app that is fully supported and maintained by Esri. Sometimes changes like these require architectural or data adjustments, so while they may not be minor changes to a GIS administrator if done properly they can provide a very simple transition for the user.  
  3. Desktop to Custom Technology TransitionIn the past 10 years I've seen a great swing from customization being the default approach to any problem, to COTS over custom at all costs. But in the past few years we've seen the pendulum settle somewhere in between, and while configure first is still a great rule, customization is no longer frowned upon when needed. With the Developer tools available with ArcGIS this custom technology can take many forms. So think about your userbase when you are deciding how to go about building your new custom app, tool, or plugin. Think about what else the user of that workflow will be doing. Is this their only workflow? If so maybe a JavaScript app that's easy to maintain and can be built quickly is best. Do they have several workflows and most of them will be moving to a mobile app? Then maybe building with AppStudio makes sense so you limit that user's need to switch devices. Or are 99% of their workflows staying in the desktop with ArcGIS Pro? If so maybe a custom Pro plugin is worth the investment. It all depends on context.  


As you modernize your GIS and help your users make the paradigm shift to Web GIS keep these steps in mind so you can help them understand their options, and that a whole new ecosystem of tools and products are available to help them achieve their mission. 

In your organization there are likely different people, working in a variety of roles, with varying skills and responsibilities. It can be overwhelming to deliver the right content in the right format to these different people in a well-performing, reliable, and secure manner.


Your geospatial content publication strategy serves as a guide to help accomplish this. While any two organizations can have vastly different publications strategies, an effective content delivery strategy will always address performance, reliability, and security.



Think of performance as how long it takes an application to load- is it lightning fast, or crawling along. One way to address performance strategically is to consider separating internal and external activities. In practice, this could mean external public applications like StoryMaps live in a scalable environment such as ArcGIS Online, and internal dashboards, analytics, and editing work stays on your own infrastructure in ArcGIS Enterprise. This way, if one of those public-facing apps suddenly becomes popular, your internal resources won’t have to compete for resources.



Reliability is expressed in a service level agreement (SLA), and is an expectation of when the system will be available- like during work hours, or 99% of the time. There are many ways in which organizations address reliability, such as following other best practices like high availability, load balancing, workload separation, and security. You could also address reliability by leveraging cloud capabilities.



Within the context of a publication strategy, security is about exposing the right content and capabilities to the right people. You certainly don’t want non-experts editing your asset information, or your sensitive data to be exposed publicly. This content should be properly maintained in a secure system of record. Security isn’t just about keeping your internal content within your organization; it can also pertain to information or capabilities that is sensitive even between departments or teams within your organization. Depending on the level of risk and sensitivity of this content, it may be appropriate to have a separate, internal publication environment.



While your organization’s individual content publication strategy will likely encompass many other considerations that are relevant to your work, goals, and mission, it should always address the needs and expectations of the people in your organization and protect your internal system.


Download the PPT for this presentation from the 2018 Esri User's Conference: Content Publication Strategy.pdf  

As technologists supporting important business functions, it’s important to do what you can to make sure that your organization’s production environment is protected.


What kinds of negative business impacts could you expect if your production environment failed? How much money would it cost your organization? How many mission-critical operations would be halted? How many customers or citizens would be affected?


Environment isolation will help protect your production system by creating at least three separate and distinct computing environments for operational, testing, and development activities. Let’s talk about how each of these systems help to protect your production environment.


Production Environment

Your production environment is the system that you are most familiar with. It’s your “live” system. It’s where most people in your organization go to do their work, whether it’s to access their mobile application to submit damage assessments around the city, or their desktop application to predict the structural integrity of buildings and bridges, or their dashboards to monitor the progress of their initiatives and projects. Because these people’s work is so important, it’s crucial that changes aren’t made here without first being tested and evaluated in a separate environment.


Staging Environment

Your staging environment is a replica of the production environment that isn’t supporting your business operations. This makes it a great, safe place to test an amazing new application your team has developed. This way you can be sure the app will deliver the functionality you promise and that nothing else in the system will be negatively impacted. It’s worth mentioning that many risk-averse organizations will have many kinds of testing environments, including a staging, performance testing, load testing, acceptance testing, and even training environments. The needs of your organization may differ depending on the level of risk you’re willing to assume.


Development Environment

Let’s get back to that amazing new application. That app was made in a separate environment: development.

This is a workspace where your developers can innovate. It’s where they can manage content, make changes, construct new business workflows, and create new capabilities. This environment’s size and complexity will largely be determined by how many developers you have working in this space and the level of risk associated with the kinds of changes they work on.


Needless to say, delivering a reliable, high-performing system is no easy feat. It takes a lot of diligent work done by smart, dedicated people. Isolating inherently risky activities like development and testing from your production environment will contribute to the stability and performance of that system.


Download the PPT for this presentation from the 2018 Esri User's Conference: Environment Isolation 

I had the honor of presenting the spotlight talk "Engage the Enterprise with GIS" at UC 2018.  The full capacity audience was fantastic, especially considering it was late in the day.   The talk was around the People side of the broader Enterprise GIS Strategy.  The broader strategy should include: 

  • People
  • Process
  • Technology
  • Data 

When engaging the enterprise, look at all the various business units and enlist the help of willing participants at various levels in the said business unit(s).   Then work with them to communicate in terms that are well understood and relevant to the intended audience.  Below is a graphic, extracted from Dr. Elliott Jacques' "In Praise of Hierarchy".  Note that the temporal and strategic levels are the parameters to use when communicating the value of utilizing GIS. 

When using this model to engage with your audience, make sure you are addressing these core considerations from the audience perspective:



Why me?

Why Now?


The attached presentation provides more information about this concept. 


As always, Esri is here to support you through your technology implementation and change.  Let us know if you have any questions. 

With the push towards ArcGIS Enterprise, the successful integration of Portal for ArcGIS has become increasingly important to a smooth deployment of your Web GIS. Portal, though just one component of ArcGIS Enterprise, a few IT-centric system requirements and require a bit of pre-planning. This Spotlight Talk looks at 3 areas in the pre-planning process that can help smooth out the implementation of Portal for ArcGIS. 



Access: One of the first decisions to make before deploying Portal, is to decide whether or not you need external access. When making this decision you want to consider your data's sensitivity, the need for public access, whether you need a mobile solution, and the type of security you will implement. Deciding on the access of your Portal will help dictate some other decisions you will need to make when implementing Portal. 

Security: There are a variety of ways that you can authenticate your Portal, and it’s important to think about who your users will be, how they will be using the Portal, and most importantly where they will be accessing it from. 


SSL/TLS: This is how secure websites leverage HTTPS to encrypt all web traffic. Having a valid TLS will safeguard your sensitive data from being compromised and it happens to be a requirement for running Portal for ArcGIS!


These components are the heavy hitters that you will want to take into consideration when you start to prepare to implement Portal. We recommend starting with a kick it off meeting with your IT department to look at your organizations access needs, security requirements, and SSL/TLS availability. In our experience these are things that can derail a smooth implementation, and even cause some hiccups down the road if not properly considered during the planning stages.


Download the PDF version of the presentation from the 2018 Esri User’s Conference: Preparing to Implement Portal for ArcGIS 

A Distributed GIS is a modern approach that supports a new type of sharing.  With distributed GIS, multiple GIS deployments are connected with each other, and users can use web maps and apps to easily create, manage, analyze, publishing and share geospatial content.  This integrated approach preserves control and access with individual departments while supporting the broader business needs of the organization.  The result is a truly collaborate environment – an integrated set of deployments working together towards shared goals.


Distributed GIS


Trusted Collaboration

To create a distributed GIS, you simply connect multiple Web GIS environments that can include multiple ArcGIS Enterprise deployments as well as an ArcGIS Online organization.  We call these connections “trusted collaborations”.  You can configure a trusted collaboration between deployments using the out-of-the-box capabilities of ArcGIS which let you easily define how data is shared.  No custom coding required.


Trusted collaborations between deployments are secure, using your deployments existing security model.  Users can share data – either as a copy or as a reference to the sources (requiring authentication) – to other collaboration participants.  Collaboration creates a network where multiple systems can access data and information products from their own environment, keeping authoritative sources intact, with updates either in real time or at scheduled intervals. 


Is it for me?

Distributed GIS will be of interest to a wide variety of organizations and departments including those with a purpose to maintain or manage data and provide it to other business units or audiences, who have faced challenges getting authoritative data to target audiences effectively and efficiently, and those that create data in one environments (i.e. ArcGIS Enterprise) and host it for customers in another (i.e. ArcGIS Online).


Develop a Strategy

A distributed GIS is an integrated set of GIS deployments working together and sharing content as part of a trusted collaboration.  Implementing a distributed GIS is an effective way to leverage authoritative data, foster communication and engagement across user types, and glean insights from data to generate powerful location intelligence. A distributed GIS also preserves departmental control over data and workflows while contributing to and supporting the needs of the enterprise.


Download the presentation from the 2018 Esri User’s Conference: Distributed GIS – Establishing a Trusted Collaboration to take a closer look and begin to develop your strategy.


Architecting the ArcGIS Platform: Best Practices

This blog post, serves as a high-level introduction to one topic that is featured in the Architecting the ArcGIS Platform: Best Practices whitepaper published by Esri. Other topics include High Availability, Load Balancing, Security, and more. Please click on the link above to learn more or post comments to ask questions and engage with Esri staff.



Are you 10.6 Ready?

Posted by MMarino-esristaff Employee Jul 24, 2018

If you attended the Esri User Conference earlier this month you may have taken the opportunity to fill out an ArcGIS 10.6 readiness assessment to help you identify potential areas for improvement, and options to investigate prior to implementing or upgrading to ArcGIS Enterprise 10.6.


If you weren't able to make it down to the Implementing ArcGIS area of the Esri Showcase and take the assessment with one of our SMEs you can still take it on your own here


The results of this assessment are based on the high level information you provide and while it doesn't represent the in depth requirements gathering needed for many complex environments it does provide general recommendation and guidance most users will find helpful when planning a migration and it's a great way to start the conversation about upgrading to 10.6 either internally or with your Esri Account Representative.

What a whirlwind of a week!


We hope you all had time to reflect on & digest the festivities and events that happened at Esri 2018 User Conference last week. 


Thank you to everyone who stopped by the Implementing ArcGIS area! It was a wonderful opportunity to connect and collaborate with users & partners and hear your stories from all over the world. The energy in the area was vibrant and inspiring. 


Today, let's look back at a few of our favorite moments in the Implementing ArcGIS area. 


The People 

Esri UC provided a unique chance to connect face-to-face & collaborate with the most innovative minds in GIS. 




Attendees met one-on-one with an Esri practitioner and had an aspect of their business reviewed. Below are some of the activities in action. 

Kevin from The City of Lebanon, TN getting a quick data assessment in a Data Health Check activity

Kevin from City of Lebanon, TN getting a quick data quality assessment at a Data Health Check activity.

This user met with an ArcGIS Monitor consultant where he received an initial assessment & recommendations about monitoring capabilities

This user met with an ArcGIS Monitor consultant where he received an initial assessment & recommendations about monitoring capabilities. 

At the Configuration & Integration workstation, attendees received a WebGIS readiness assessment to see if their organization was ready for WebGIS

At the Configuration & Integration station, attendees received an assessment to find out if their organization was ready for Web GIS. 

In deep conversation about Workforce Development & Technical Enablement

In deep conversation on a workforce development learning plan & technical enablement. 


Spotlight Talks 

In 15-minutes, attendees learned quick topical implementation best practices & tips on where to find resources. 


Working Together

The collaboration area is where we saw collaboration at its finest. Ideas flowed, concepts were being whiteboarded & connections were being made! 


We hoped you enjoyed your time at User Conference this year.

Our GeoNet community would love to hear about your experience. Let us know what inspired you at this year's UC. Leave your comments below.      



See you all next year! 

At this point, web maps are easy to use, and quick to make, and many of our Web GIS users are happy to share a link to their ArcGIS Online or Portal Map Viewer and go from there. That being said, it can be argued that almost any web map would benefit from being taken out of the authoring view of the Map Viewer and into a web application better suited to its use case.


This Spotlight Talk looks breaks down some main advantages that Web Application Templates can provide to your organization.  

  • With Esri’s latest ArcGIS Web App templates, users can quickly create and publish maps and control the look and feel of the user experience without coding expertise. 
  • Learn how Esri can help you quickly get your Web apps up and running.
  • Taking a COTS-first (Commercial Off the Shelf) mindset with Esri's Web App templates, with customization as a last resort can put the control and more importantly the cash back into the hands of the GIS department. 


Whether you find yourself a chronic user of the Map Viewer, or are not sure what type of application to make, the bottom line is this: If you want to make cleaner, clearer, and better maps efficiently while reducing costs, web mapping applications contain the tools to help you maximize value with your Web GIS. 



Download the PDF version of the presentation from 2018 Esri User’s Conference: Maximize Value with Web Application Templates 

For those of you that were not able to join us at this year’s Esri International Users Conference, I would like to take some time to share the excitement we had in San Diego meeting and greeting each other at the GIS Managers Open Summit.  Over 300 people were registered for the Summit this year.


We had an exciting agenda, starting at 8:00 am Tuesday morning with registration and networking.


Check out the Speaker Bios. (Adam Carnow, Tom Tibbits, Paul Giroux, and Nick O’Day)

We started our morning with a speed networking session; a chance to meet and greet attendees from every part of the GIS community.  Our goal was to meet as many folks as possible to start our day.

Following introductions, Adam Carnow provided a presentation on Executive/Elected Official Sponsorship of GIS.  Adam introduced some special Elected Official guests who participated in a panel discussion.  These guests included the following:

  • Katrina Scarborough – Osceola Co., FL Property Appraiser
  • Eddie Canon – Cobb Co., GA Support Services Agency Director

Following the panel discussion, Adam introduced everyone to the “Lean Coffee” communication methodology that we would use to drive our round table discussions.

Following each presentation, we had round table discussions related to the presentation topics.  Each table was free to introduce topics for discussion, which were then voted on by the table members and discussed based on the identified table topic priorities.  The “Lean Coffee” process got all table members engaged and promoted some very exciting and meaningful discussions.

Tom Tibbitts provided our second presentation on Managing a Utility; Solving Assets, Operations, Projects & Hurricanes with Mobile-GIS, Cityworks and Insights.  Tom’s presentation was followed by our second period of round table discussions.

After our lunch break, Paul Giroux presented our third presentation on An Elusive Enterprise.  We followed with our third period of round table discussions.

Our final presentation was provided by Nick O’DayPunching above your Weight: Maximizing the Impact of your GISWe followed with our fourth period of round table discussions and closed with a Panel Discussion with Adam, Tom, Paul, and Nick.

Throughout the day we asked attendees to share key topics from their table discussions on our GIS Managers Round Table Take Away board.  We had a great time in San Diego.  We were introduced to some great technology, met new friends, and had some great conversations for moving GIS forward.  Thanks to all who contributed to this successful event.  We will see you next year!

Please bear with me as I set the context for this allegory, I promise there is a meaningful connection with GIS…


You have probably never heard of John Reed.  He was a Hessian mercenary, then known as Johannes Ried, working for the British during the American Revolutionary War.  In 1782, he deserted his post in Savannah, GA, and later settled in Cabarrus County, in Central North Carolina, to make his living as a farmer.  In 1799, John’s twelve-year old son, Conrad, found a sixteen-pound, yellow rock in Little Meadow Creek on the family farm.  The Reeds used it as a doorstop.


In 1802, a jeweler from Fayetteville, North Carolina, identified the rock as a gold nugget, and offered to buy it from Mr. Reed.  John sold it to him for $3.50, or a week’s worth of wages.  The value of the nugget at the time was approximately $3,600.  This is the first documented commercial gold find in the United States.


Shortly after this event, John started a mining operation.  John Reed ended up a wealthy man.  The mining operations ceased in 1912.  The Reed Gold Mine is designated as a National Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  It makes for a great visit, especially with children, so they can learn this important bit of American History, as well as on a hot day, as the mine provides some welcome, natural air conditioning.  You can even pan for gold yourself.  I have found gold flakes each time I have visited.


So, what does this have to do with GIS?  Too often I see organizations that have implemented GIS and use only a small number of its capabilities:

  • They focus only on mapping,
  • use is restricted to trained GIS professionals,
  • there is little use of spatial analysis capabilities, and
  • non-GIS users think of the GIS group only as mapmakers.


This is extremely frustrating since there is so much additional potential in the use of a web-enabled location platform powered by GIS.  For most of these organizations, they have this powerful tool right there, but do not take advantage of the true value of the platform they own.  Most of the time, it is because they are either averse to change, or they do not know how to take advantage of it.


So, what can GIS professionals learn from John Reed?  Think of your GIS as John’s golden doorstop.  Here is this incredibly valuable resource just sitting there, not being valued to its full potential.  Sure it might prop the door open to simple mapping, but think about how it can contribute to making your community a better place, how it can help with real problems we are struggling with, like homelessness, the opioid epidemic, mosquito-borne diseases…  As an ArcGIS user, you have access to free, configurable, supported solutions for real problems like these, and many others.  These solutions can be deployed, sometimes in minutes, without writing any code.  They are open source, supported and will continue to evolve along with ArcGIS.


Now think about how John realized the true value of the doorstop, and not only profited from the gold he found on his property, but how he changed from farmer to miner, to better take advantage of his situation.  Today’s next-generation, web-powered GIS requires a different mindset than the traditional mapmaking-centric GIS of the past.  Your job as a GIS professional has changed from performing GIS work for others, to enabling others to leverage GIS capabilities with easy-to-use, focused apps, that work on any device.  The real power of GIS is in spatial analysis - your job is to share that with others, so that they can understand that GIS is for more than making maps. 


Take a look at what may be holding your door open. A golden doorstop? Mine it for all its worth.


Want an example of how easy ArcGIS app deployment can be?  Check out this story: Accelerating Small-Town Services on a Small-Town Budget | ArcNews 


Want help? Esri and our business partners are here to help you every step of the way.  You can also start with this Esri Training course: 


Thanks to Andy Huntington and Brian Baldwin for peer review of this post.



Wikipedia, Reed Gold Mine:

North Carolina Historic Sites, Reed Gold Mine:

I just returned from the Esri 2018 User Conference and had a great time. During UC, I encountered many questions about ArcGIS Pro virtualization. For the past 20 years I have worked with Esri customers assisting them with deploying ArcMap using virtualization technologies such as RDSH and Citrix XenApp.


As customers plan their migrations to ArcGIS Pro, it is important to be aware that it is not merely a matter of upgrading to ArcGIS Pro utilizing the same IT solutions within the current IT infrastructure. That's because ArcGIS Pro has a different set of system requirements and one of the key differences is the requirement for a graphical processing unit (GPU).


ArcGIS Pro leverages advanced display technologies such as DirectX and OpenGL which are highly dependent upon a graphics processing capability. This was not an issue in the past with ArcMap in virtualized deployments since ArcMap is GDI-based and for the most part cannot be accelerated by a GPU. However, Because of this specific requirement for ArcGIS Pro, traditional session-based deployment solutions are not the best fit for ArcGIS Pro, and in most cases Esri is recommending the use of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) coupled with GPU management technology such as NVIDIA GRID virtual GPU (vGPU) to provide the IT infrastructure to host virtualized ArcGIS Pro desktops.


A variety of servers and VDI solutions are available, and the ArcGIS Pro system requirements page reflects which ones have been certified by Esri. Also, be sure to review the On-Premises virtualization documentation to determine how to work with your chosen VDI solution.


The key take-away is that infrastructure upgrades will likely be required if ArcGIS Pro is to be delivered using a virtualization platform and will need to include GPU-enabled servers to support the virtualized desktops.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn, April 8, 2016.

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of being part of the team representing Esri at the American Planning Association (APA) National Planning Conference in Phoenix, AZ (see a picture of the Phoenix Convention Center above).  I really feel at home among planners, as I have a Masters degree in Urban & Regional Planning, attained the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) certification, spent part of my career as a Planner, as well as worked with planners as a GIS practitioner.

Esri has been supporting this conference for a long time, which is great because planning is a spatial industry and naturally lends itself to the application of GIS. Our participation includes conducting a series of hands-on workshops, presentations, sponsorship and exhibiting.  There were over 4,000 planners there from around the U.S. and abroad.  If you want more info on the conference, check out the Twitter hashtag #APA16.

We were very busy and showcased solutions like ArcGIS Online, Story Maps, free and configurable Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) apps from our ArcGIS for Local Government solutions gallery, Business Analyst Online (BAO), GeoPlanner, and other planning solutions, like Geodesign and 3D.  The bottom line was that quite often planners realized that their view of GIS was inaccurate - there are a lot of web-based tools that they can use themselves to be more productive, efficient and effective.  Most of them are used to having to learn ArcGIS for Desktop, or to have a full-time GIS specialist perform the GIS-related tasks for them.

Usually the discussion with these planners would turn to the obvious question of how much does this cost, in reference to one of the products or solutions we were demonstrating.  For many of the solutions, the cost is very reasonable (a 5 user license for BAO is $500 per year and GeoPlanner is $500 per year per user).  For much of the rest of the solutions (ArcGIS Online, Story Maps, ArcGIS for Local Government), there is no additional cost because they are part of the ArcGIS platform that their organization (most often a city, county, regional or state agency) already owns.

Once they realized that their organization already owned the ArcGIS platform, and that it included a bunch of solutions that they could use every day in their jobs, they were very surprised.  Most often their next comment was, "Why hasn't my GIS Manager shown these to me?"  I had no answer for that.

Therein lies a lesson for all of us in the GIS industry: we have all got to do more outreach to show our colleagues what the current GIS-powered location platform can do for them.  More people using GIS (yes, web GIS is real GIS) is a great thing - as GIS practitioners we all know that using the power of geography really can make the world a better place.

Planners especially know this, as they are on the front lines of trying to improve our communities.  So reach out to planners, and other non-GIS colleagues, and show them what the current technology can do for them.  Make this a priority and part of your daily work.  Increasing your user base (dare I say "customers"), should be one of your primary missions as a GIS practitioner.

Thanks to everyone who joined the 'Value of Esri Technical Certification' spotlight talk.  With the growing global talent shortage, access to qualified individuals to strengthen your organization and serve your customers is paramount.

  • Leverage Esri Technical Certification to enhance your personal and organizational brand
  • Independent studies show the value that certification brings to performance, efficiencies and responsibilities
  • Stay current, stay connected and share your certification successes using Esri resources, groups and websites

Maps are no longer static. Off the shelf technology exists to visualize, analyse, and store the wealth of real-time information that is impacting your organization. Those that embrace real-time GIS can quicken their decision making and responsiveness.


The first question I posed to users at Esri's 2018 User Conference during a session with the same title was simply: Do you have a strategy? For the majority of attendees, the answer was a resounding 'no'.


To begin crafting a real-time GIS strategy, it makes sense to break down the concept into 3 discrete buckets: ingesting, transforming, and disseminating.



The most basic concept is simply, what data exists? How often is the data updated? How many sensors are there? Users should start to develop a catalog of the real-time data that exists throughout their organization as well as the attributes and frequency of updates. Most importantly, you should be aware of the wealth of real-time information that is provided through Esri's partners (found in the ArcGIS Marketplace) and the Living Atlas. Some of the these feeds include lightning strikes, storm tracks, stream gauges, drought monitors, and social media feeds. Please take a minute to peruse the content that is available here: Living Atlas Layers.


There is a wealth of real-time information available today that allows users to consume data that impacts their organization, without the need to generate that content. Users should build out a catalog of the data that is available through 3rd parties and also have a clear understanding of their own real-time sensor networks.



While data coming from a sensor network can provide value straight from the feed, it typically needs to be transformed. Secondly, beyond a basic visualization, it is difficult to get a true understanding of overlapping or simultaneous events while viewing multiple real-time feeds. Transformations allow users to take their real-time information and use either the geometry or attributes of the features to trigger alerts, change symbology, or create additional features.


During Hurricane Rita, it was difficult, if not impossible to assess where facilities and populations were going to be impacted by the resulting floods. Yet, by combining facilities and the Living Atlas stream gauge layer, alerts could be generated using GeoEvent Server to show exactly where these impacts were going to occur. Rather than focus on all facilities or population centers, First Responders could focus on the populations with the highest risk and also filter the data to see where the flood stage would be the most critical, at what times.


Stream gauges during Hurricane Rita

Depending on the sensor network, readings could be generated at rates upwards of 60 times a second. This volume of data becomes unmanageable and impossible to analyze unless tranformations are applied. Please refer to this GeoEvent Server documentation to get a basic introduction to the types of processors that are available to better analyze your data. It is paramount that users understand the processes and tools that are available for them to transform their data into actionable information.  



Lastly and mostly importantly, is turning your real-time data into actionable information. This could take the form of an SMS message, an e-mail, a dashboard, or a web application. Users should prioritize which information products will provide the most value to their organization and then work on a configurable delivery approach. There are a wide array of configurable tools available through Esri that provide the ability to display real-time information. Users simply need to be aware of the tools that are available and understand how those tools could best serve the end users that will be utilizing them.  


Real-time Outages Dashboard

Develop a Strategy!

If users understand the 3 key components of real-time GIS: ingesting, transforming, and disseminating, they can begin to develop the right strategy for their organization. Maps are no longer static. The maps and dashboards that users interact with on a daily basis should mirror the way your organization is operating in the real world.


Download the PPT for this presentation from the 2018 Esri User's Conference: Developing a Real-Time GIS Strategy


Architecting the ArcGIS Platform: Best Practices

This blog post, serves as a high-level introduction to one topic that is featured in the Architecting the ArcGIS Platform: Best Practices whitepaper published by Esri. Other topics include High Availability, Load Balancing, Security, and more. Please click on the link above to learn more or post comments to ask questions and engage with Esri staff.


Architecting the ArcGIS Platform


My new book, Getting to Know Web GIS 3rd edition, has recently published.


In the book, I teach about Web GIS technologies as a holistic platform, and try to help you quickly become productive with Esri’s Web GIS platform. If you need a workbook to stay on top of the latest Web GIS technologies, this is for you.


 The book provides clear, step-by-step instructions on how to share resources to ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise, create engaging 2D and 3D information products that work in web browsers and on mobile devices, design smart maps, and perform analysis online.


The first two editions made this book a bestseller and a preeminent book on Web GIS. The third edition builds on that success to match newer releases of ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise, with the following updates:

  • A new chapter on image services and raster analysis
  • Separate chapters on mobile GIS and real-time GIS, with a more extensive experience on each
  • Tutorials migrated from ArcMap to ArcGIS Pro, the new and more powerful tool for processing and publishing GIS resources
  • A new 3D chapter showing how to create beautiful 3D scenes easily with only a browser.
  • New frontiers such as big data analysis, the Internet of Things (IoT), smart cities, virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence.
  • New products such as ArcGIS Arcade, Survey123 for ArcGIS, Workforce for ArcGIS, Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS, ArcGIS GeoAnalytics Server, and ArcGIS Image Server


The book provides accompanying lab data and instructors PPT slides that can be downloaded at Both eBook and print versions are available through Amazon. . 


I hope my book sparks your imagination and encourages creatives uses of Web GIS!


Here is the table of contents of the book.


Deciding when you are ready to upgrade and implement the latest version of ArcGIS can be a daunting task. One thing I really enjoy doing each year at UC is talking to users about how to get ready to upgrade and modernize their GIS. If you’re interested in talking to an Esri expert about moving to 10.6 come by the Implementing ArcGIS area in the expo and ask about our ArcGIS 10.6 Readiness Assessment. It’s a quick survey you can take that will provide some recommendations and suggestions on steps you can take to make yourself ready to implement 10.6.

Geodata engineering is focused on making your data work for your mission. Did you know that The Living Atlas is a way for you to use authoritative information others have created, including official data sources such as the US Census, NOAA, and USGS?  The experts in Esri's Geodata Services support the production of The Living Atlas imagery and community maps content, and can help you improve the quality of your data, too.  To learn more about the work behind The Living Atlas, see this article in XYHT, and meet members of #Geodata and Living Atlas at #EsriUC2018. 

I'll be moderating a User Paper Session, Session 2250: "Your Decisions are Only as Good as Your Data", on Wed, Jul 11 - 8:30am - 9:30am  SDCC - Room 29 B. 


We'll have two interesting papers presented by BLM and San Jose Water. Nick Hall and Jason Frels of the BLM National Operations Center in Denver Colorado, will discuss the continued maturation of BLM's Data Quality and the Enterprise (eGIS) System. Mary McMahon of San Jose Water California will discuss how the Esri Water Utility Tools are used to improve their data quality checks workflows. I hope to see you there!



It really was my pleasure working with Cliff Sullivan and Mark Dickman at SACWD.  These two guys really knew how to make finding errors fun. With their positive attitudes and get-it-done mentality, they quickly gained a good grasp of using the data QC extension, ArcGIS Data Reviewer.


Look where their success got them featured – in the latest issue of ArcNews! 


If you are interested in a quick review of Data Reviewer reviewing your data, schedule a Data Health Check at this year's UC,

This post was originally published on LinkedIn, June 22, 2016.


As the 2018 Esri International User Conference approaches, I have been thinking about the essence of what makes an enterprise GIS successful and offer these thoughts...

A successful GIS implementation requires more than just technology.  Whether or not a GIS is successful, largely depends upon motivated people that are committed to managing change, and effectively applying the technology in a sustainable manner, while following best practices.  An assistant City Manager once told me, "...whether or not our GIS implementation is successful is not a technology problem, it's a people problem..."

Two of the key elements of a successful GIS are vision and leadership – if you are a GIS Manager, you need to be more than just a manager, you need to be a leader in your organization.  You need to awaken your organization, and the public, to the capabilities and benefits of the use of GIS.  This means you need to market the benefits of GIS to colleagues and the public.  Let them know that GIS can do more than make maps, that it can be used easily by anyone, and that spatial analysis can provide insight that is not accessible with any other technology.  This critical insight can help anyone make better decisions, be more efficient, and therefore, save money and time.

In order to realize this vision of a location platform successfully supporting your organization’s business, you need to understand how GIS can contribute to your organization’s success.  Talk to leaders in your organization, understand what their vision is, and what their problems are.  Then deploy sustainable GIS solutions that directly align with their vision, and help solve their problems.  Provide these leaders with solutions they can use themselves to run their business – solutions like web-enabled, operational dashboards.  By making executives GIS users, they will directly understand the value of GIS, and it will elevate your standing in the organization, as well as your GIS, to a mission-critical, enterprise business system.

A successful GIS also needs a living strategic plan.  No enterprise IT system can be successful without an effective strategic plan.  This plan need not be a voluminous document that takes a huge effort to create, and then sits on a shelf.  It can be as simple as a matrix showing which GIS capabilities have been deployed to which departments.  This would then identify what areas are targets for GIS expansion.  Then simply prioritize those, and through phases implement the appropriate solutions to meet their needs.  The key is that the plan is constantly being updated, so it stays relevant and effective.  This plan should align with the IT strategic plan, as well as the overall organizational strategic plan.

Effective governance is another key to a successful GIS.  This means that you must have an organizational structure that allows GIS to be as effective as possible.  You do not want process to get in the way of progress.  There are options for how to effectively implement and govern a GIS, that can be successful, depending on the organization.  One key is that there must be executive sponsorship for GIS.  There should also be a GIS Steering Committee, made up of executives that can make business decisions related to GIS.  This would include decisions on whether or not a GIS solution should be developed using Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) technology, or a custom solution developed by authoring code.  This Steering Committee should also prioritize the GIS projects based on their value to the organization.  This frees up the GIS professionals to do their work in a manner that is sustainable and best aligned with the organization’s mission.

As ArcGIS has evolved, so too does your approach to how the technology is implemented.  Technology is changing faster and faster, therefore to keep up with that change, you must take advantage of it by implementing evolutionary approaches, or change management.  Embrace the change, make it part of your daily work – if you do not consciously commit time to change management, you will not affect any change.  You need to do this by participating in ArcGIS beta programs.  Use an annual subscription to the ArcGIS Developer Program to allow you to constantly try out all of our products to see how they are applicable to your work.  Investigate the new capabilities of the latest versions of ArcGIS, and make, and execute, plans to utilize them.  Change is tough, but it cannot be ignored and the effective and constant management of change, is a foundational piece of any successful organization.

If your ArcGIS implementation is to be successful, the apps that people use must be engaging.  With the widespread acceptance in our personal lives of smart mobile devices, like phones and tablets, and their app ecosystems, the expectations of end users have permanently changed.  No longer are people willing to read a manual or take a class to learn how to use an app.  No longer can GIS apps look like desktop, with layers to turn on and off, and toolbars full of many tools to choose from.  Apps need to be focused, intuitive, and work on any device, anywhere at any time.  With the spread of smart mobile devices, work takes place wherever and whenever the worker decides, so your GIS apps need to be there with them, ready to work for them.  They need to be as easy-to-use as any other app on their devices.  The goal is to give everyone alternatives, but keep them in a known, controlled and secure environment, while using the latest and most authoritative data and processes.  ArcGIS includes a suite of apps that can easily be deployed without writing code. Become familiar with them and see which ones apply to your organization's workflows.  

The last key facet of a successful GIS implementation is good people.  With GIS being a technological field that is rapidly changing, it is critical the GIS professionals get annual training to keep up with the changes.  Maintain a living workforce development plan that creates an educational pathway for the GIS users in your organization that is based on their responsibilities.  Additionally, a GIS Manager, needs more than technological skills – they need business management skills, as well as IT skills.  As a GIS Manager, you need to market and sell your team’s capabilities to the leaders of your organization.  You also need to develop and maintain a business plan and change management plan as part of the GIS Strategic Plan.  These are skills that need to be acquired to be successful.  You also need to learn how to run an enterprise IT system including the implementation of service level agreements, system architecture design, enterprise system integration, security, project management, etc.  It is important to realize that no GIS is successful through solely internal resources.  Implementing and maintaining an effective enterprise GIS requires outside assistance, so plan for getting assistance from Esri and/or our partners.  Assistance from external, experienced professionals will increase the likelihood of success, minimize risk, as well as reduce the project timeline.

Esri offers many resources to our customers to help make them successful - please take advantage of them.  Here are some that come to mind:

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