Like many devs, I do a lot of my work on a Mac. When I need to run an ArcGIS thick-client application, this leaves me with only a couple of options for my system, none of which are great:
- I can have a separate, dedicated windows laptop that I carry with me everywhere
- Certainly feasible but what a pain in the butt. Also, if you actually want a powerful computer, you talking 5.5-7lbs minimum.
- I can have a separate, dedicated windows desktop that I remote into
- This is a little more reasonable except that my dedicated desktop needs to be running 24/7 so that I can remote into it when needed.
- I can run a Virtual Machine on my MacBook Pro
- Historically, this has been what I've done as it keeps everything local and I don't have to worry about internet connectivity. But in this day and age, internet connectivity is rarely a problem anymore.
- The biggest problem I've found here is that it's difficult to get a really powerful Windows VM without investing in $4k+ MacBook Pro and even then, you end up with a rather mediocre windows workstation rather than something that could really crunch some data.
There is another option. I could pay-per-hour for an AWS Workspace. This would allow me to fire up a Windows system with Pro on it whenever I needed it, and shut it down when I didn't without issue. The only problem is that ArcGIS applications such as Pro, ArcMap, CityEngine, Drone2Map, etc. are not available in the AWS Marketplace. That's not an insurmountable challenge. I could certainly download the application installers and upload them to my AWS Application Manager and to get them installed, but why should I need to? Esri should be making this easy for me.
There are already some lightweight GIS and mapping applications in the AWS Marketplace, but nothing heavyweight. I'd also argue that Esri needs to get on this train before QGIS does.
It would be nice to be able to select any of the ArcGIS thick client applications from this list:
- ArcGIS Pro
- Business Analyst
- Collector & Explorer (Win10)
- Survey123 Connect
- Maps for Office
Named User licensing would be ideal for this kind of setup and for the legacy apps, one could just use a provisioning file. From there, whenever you need an ArcGIS workstation, just hit AWS and fire up your workspace.