What You Need to Know for ArcGIS Pro Virtualization

Blog Post created by jdeweese-esristaff Employee on Jul 18, 2018

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.