How do I license ArcGIS Pro in lab environments?

07-07-2023 07:43 AM
Esri Regular Contributor
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Over the past years, we have been encouraging customers to adopt a Modern GIS pattern, which includes ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Pro and Apps. By definition, Modern GIS uses named user licensing to provide access across the suite of ArcGIS web, mobile, and desktop apps. We have been recommending ArcGIS Online as a licensing portal, leveraging Single Sign On/SAML logins as the most efficient way to provide access to ArcGIS both in lab environments and on students’ personal devices.

With the upcoming removal of Single Use/Concurrent Use licenses for ArcGIS Pro from the Education programs, ArcGIS named user will be the only method to license ArcGIS in the future. Hence, it is crucial that organizations implement SAML logins for efficient access to all ArcGIS apps, including ArcGIS Pro.

Some of you have asked how to deploy ArcGIS Pro in a lab environment with shared computers. A common concern is that students may forget to log out, and/or one student may get unauthorized access to another student’s work. Fortunately, many institutions have successfully deployed ArcGIS Pro in lab environments where licenses are managed with ArcGIS named user accounts rather than concurrent use licenses. User-based licensing has become a common industry standard in academia, used by many vendors, including in labs. This approach saves time and costs, since no license server needs to be maintained.

Please collaborate with your IT/lab managers to enable proper settings for logging out (to alleviate concerns of students continuing to be logged in to ArcGIS Pro for extended period, or sharing logins, or accessing data).

Below are some considerations as you collaborate with your IT colleagues in this process. These settings are common in lab environments and are not specific to ArcGIS:

  • Avoid a setup where students use a common username and password to log into Windows rather than use individual credentials. In general, using shared credentials violates most universities’ information privacy policies. In other words, users of the computer lab must log into the Windows computers with their own individual credentials, versus using a single, shared username and password. If shared credentials are used, indeed one student could accidentally access another student's GIS work, as the ArcGIS Pro login information is cached inside a Windows account that more than one person can use. Hence, the recommendation is to avoid shared accounts. If that’s not possible, implement controls (Windows, not ArcGIS) to prevent retention of user-specific information across login sessions.
  • Setup proper log off timeout in case students forget to logoff themselves – your IT/lab manager likely already has a preferred timeout setting in place.  
  • Encourage students to log off when done working in the lab – this will ensure no one can access their work in ArcGIS Pro or other applications.
  • Sign in automatically” is enabled by default and the recommendation is to keep it that way. As long as individual Windows logins are used (versus shared logins), there is no concern of sharing ArcGIS Pro sessions and accessing someone else’s data or content.  

The following question was asked of institutions who have implemented named user licenses in lab environments successfully.

Question: Do you use named user licensing in your lab, and if so, have you encountered issues if students do not log out?


  •   “Yes, we use named user licensing. We have never run into an issue where a student’s license gets locked to a lab PC. The lab I manager has group policies in place that wipe some data from the PCs every night that resets the ArcGIS Pro instance to an unlicensed default.”  -- Campus License Administrator and GIS Lab Manager, Tier 1 Research Institution.
  •  “We don’t have Pro installed in a lab in the GIS Department anymore since we are online (and students use their own computers). There are a few seats installed in computer labs – we use the named user approach. All our machines get wiped each night so even if they are signed in, the policy wipes that out because each product reverts to its original state.”  -- Geography/GIS Professor and Campus License Administrator, Nationally Recognized Community College

  Further feedback is welcome!