Best Practices to Migrating Organization from Enterprise to ArcGIS Online

06-02-2021 11:25 AM
Occasional Contributor II

Hi all,

I'm curious if anyone has undertaken a migration for their organization from ArcGIS Enterprise -> ArcGIS Online)and can speak towards their experience.

It's becoming evident that the time and cost requirement of renting a virtual machine for our Enterprise system has really impeded our organization's progress towards its goals. The intricacies of managing the Enterprise setup for our number of staff adds to costs and I believe a transition to Online would help alleviate some of the time and money drain from the organization. Our primary data use is collecting data, including photos, in remote field areas which is synced with Hosted Feature Layers, and then incorporating that data on visualizations (dynamic or static maps) for presentations with others. In my discussions with other, similarly sized organizations (small) most of them are ArcGIS Online subscribers exclusively. Finding staff with adequate Enterprise experience in our area for the future when current staff leaves has been difficult as well.

The Enterprise on Virtual Machine setup makes it really difficult to assess exactly how much of our DataStore's storage is taken up by hosting Feature Classes vs. Feature Attachments vs. Imagery - which makes the cost analysis for me difficult to complete. DescribeDatastore lists our datastore as having 80GB  with additional storage on our VM taken up by backups and other system files.

I'm aware of the ArcGIS Online Assistant workflow and am planning eventually to purchase a base Creator level license, running the two concurrently and migrating some of our critical services over first that way, eventually bringing it to a place where we could get rid of the Enterprise setup.

Does anyone have any thoughts or experience that they wouldn't mind sharing?

3 Replies
Esri Contributor


There are a number of things to consider when deciding to go exclusively with ArcGIS Online:

  • Data size, which as you pointed out is one of the major costs of AGOL. You need to find out how much data is in the following:
    • Enterprise Geodatabases (eg on SQL Server)
    • In the Data Store
    • In file based locations, such as file shares. Eg, imagery, file geodatabases
  • Ensure that your data custodians can offer you a lean estimate by cleaning up any old/unused data
  • Data sovereignty should be considered if you are concerned about your data being hosted by an external provider, potentially overseas (if you are not US based). Some organisations have problems with this.
  • Any integration requirements, particularly if they are required at the database level. Integrations in AGOL can only be REST based (ie via a URL).
  • The ability to create your own custom print templates. AGOL does not have this ability, so print outs will come with the default layout. You can change things like title and date but not position of layout elements, etc
  • The number of named users you would require:
    • You typically only need one or two Creator licenses for admin and publishing roles
    • You need to assess how many Creator licenses may be needed for field work
    • Creator licenses will also be required for named users that want to edit map features
    • The number of Viewer licenses
    • Do you need to share some of your data anonymously
  • Internet connection speed will be important, given your infrastructure is now in the cloud
  • If your org has data editors that currently work using ArcMap then they will need to migrate to ArcGIS Pro to work with AGOL
  • Desktop based data editors workflows will change as well:
    • They may continue to work locally but will need to have workflows to replace data in AGOL with updates
    • They may choose to work by editing services directly

A potential migration strategy:

  1. Identify required data products need for your org:
    1. Web Maps
    2. Web apps
  2. Use this information to understand what data is required to be uploaded
  3. Upload data required to realise one data product (eg web app)
  4. Create required services, then web maps and web apps. This can be done from scratch or it is possible to use ArcGIS Online Assistant to help. For further automation of this step, Python scripts are available online at the Esri web site
  5. Test and if this approach works for you, then repeat for the rest of your data/configuration
Occasional Contributor II

Thank you for the recommendations, Mark. They are immensely helpful for us in considering this process. We were already largely operating in a Cloud environment through the Virtual Machine that hosted our entire Portal, Server, and Datastore setup. Where we are the internet service is not great, but it's worked for the most part whenever I've needed to rarely edit the services directly through ArcGIS Pro.

Is it possible to still connect to the AGOL portal through ArcMap at all or would it have to be wholly done through ArcGIS Pro? I know newer licenses for AGOL don't even provide ArcMap but ArcMap still works better on much of our hardware. It doesn't need to be connected in a capacity where we will be editing these live services, but it can be helpful to drop some of our Portal Hosted content from our current Cloud setup into an ArcMap .mxd alongside other locally stored reference data for presentation purposes.

Thanks again,


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Esri Contributor

Hi Henry,

Yes, you can continue to use ArcMap to work with AGOL:

I understand that your machines perform better with ArcMap but 10.8.1 was the last version of ArcMap to be produced. Support won't expire for that till early 2026 but the writing is on the wall and you will miss out on any new functionality from now on. I recommend migrating to Pro, which might mean getting higher performing machines.


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