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Esri's Enterprise Portal

03-23-2023 01:15 PM
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Occasional Contributor

My name is John, I'm with Illinois Department of Transportation.  We are looking for PROs and CONs for deploying Esri's Portal.  If you have it, if you like it or if you don't, if it has helped your users and if so how it has helped.  Also, anything you would want to share about your GIS architecture and where Portal fits in.  Thank you in advance. 

3 Replies
Frequent Contributor

One thing to be aware of is that Portal is the caboose in terms of ESRI's rollout of new features so if you're building applications (even ones that aren't code based), just know that the Portal version web applications will be the last to receive those new features which likely debuted in AGOL or the Developer versions.

You get as many free viewer accounts as you'd like to create but ESRI still gets its 30 pieces of silver because you have to pay for additional user roles with elevated capabilities (publishing feature layers, editing data, etc). This might get mitigated if you have an enterprise site license, I dunno (I'm not involved on that side of the equation).

I do like the hosted side of things with Portal since I've never felt like our ArcGIS Server implementation could handle the load of a lot of services. Taking data which isn't updated a lot and then hosting it inside of Portal can take the pressure off of your AG Servers which might be serving up more vital, time sensitive information.

Just a few random $0.02..


MVP Esteemed Contributor

IDOT! You guys have the best plats, we love you over in Kendall County. We use Portal here, and we love it. We actually need it to host certain types of datasets / layers, such as the Parcel Fabric.

I also like having full access to the machines for things like collecting logs and doing my own analytics, or for applying organization-specific styling to parts of the portal, instead of sticking with AGOL's blue and white on everything. We use AWS, so we're able to have a really reliable Portal setup.

There's also the matter of having the Portal URL consistent with the rest of the County, which helps it look a little more "official". And I can deploy custom apps from the developer versions of EB / WAB to our web machine. Though you could do that without Portal, but I still like that our core viewers can be at a simple URL that also happens to be consistent with the County and the Portal itself.

As @SteveCole mentioned, moving our stuff into hosted layers has been really great. So much of our data doesn't require the advanced functionality of an Enterprise GeoDatabase, and being able to manage all of that via the web interface is easy, and keeps all the lesser layers in the shared instance pool, so I don't have to fiddle with server settings to get decent performance. We've got dozens of layers that internal and external users are accessing daily, and our server machine rarely exceeds 20% CPU. Lots of folks will tell you that an EA license is great because you can just spin up as many servers as you want, but proper management of your Portal's content means you probably won't need more than a 4-core server.

Cons? The delay in getting new stuff is kind of a bummer. Seems like AGOL always unveils a game-changing new capability the week after a Portal version is released, meaning you don't get to use it for 6 months or more. But if you're patient, you will get it eventually, along with some extra things AGOL doesn't get.

- Josh Carlson
Kendall County GIS
Esri Contributor

Hi @John_RMellor__GISP 
There are so many factors that can weigh into the decision whether to go for AGOL or to ArcGIS Enterprise. However, from previous experience, these are some of the questions that can help to decide:
(1) How are you going to use the system: what are the functional requirements you are hoping to get from using either of the Esri platforms.

Scenarios like:

  • Do you have a team of data editors and if it is required to maintain multi-user editing environment, or is it just a team of few editors?
  • your spatial datasets are hosted on DBMS (MS SQL, Oracle, etc) or they are file based (SHP, FGDB)
  • are you looking at hosting raster imagery, what's the format

(2) Your team skillset: do you have a team with enough IT and Esri software background to look after the infrastructure, take regular backups of your Enterprise deployment? Is it easier for the time being to outsource the management of the GIS to Esri and get up-to-speed by subscribing to AGOL?

More questions might appear if you engage directly with the Esri distributer in your region, but these are usually the areas we try to investigate to help identify imminent needs vs near future prospects of fitting GIS into your organization.