Teaching with ArcGIS Enterprise

07-24-2018 09:43 PM
Esri Regular Contributor
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We often get questions by academic users on how to teach with ArcGIS Enterprise, especially by those who have been teaching with a standalone ArcGIS Server. For anyone new to ArcGIS Enterprise - ArcGIS Server was renamed to ArcGIS Enterprise as of the 10.5 release, to reflects its functional capabilities and a modern Web GIS pattern. ArcGIS Enterprise is how we do Web GIS in an organization’s infrastructure.

We wanted to outline a couple of possibilities in terms of teaching and deployment in the classroom. They are simply scenarios, and we welcome any feedback if anyone has utilized any of these, or other, patterns. Choosing an option will depend on your purpose:

  •      If one wants to empower many instructors and students to participate in innovative educational opportunities, enabled by ArcGIS Enterprise advanced services and capabilities, the first listed option would probably be best. In this case, the instructors or students do not necessarily need to know everything about the underlying technology, they just need to take advantage of the capabilities, once it is setup for them.
  •      If one wants to teach administrative aspects of deploying a technology such as ArcGIS Enterprise, then the second and third options may work better.

Note that there are a number of System Requirements that we need to keep in mind as we teach with ArcGIS Enterprise, specifically the need for Domain Name Service (DNS), Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) and SSL certificates – items that we didn’t necessarily have to think about with the older standalone ArcGIS Server pattern.

  •      ArcGIS Enterprise deployed for a course/program
    •      All students are Publishers in the portal
    •      Everyone leverages advanced services (geocode, image, geoprocessing, etc.)
    •      Everyone leverages advanced capabilities and server roles (GeoEvent/Real Time GIS, GeoAnalytics, Raster Analytics, Business Analyst)
    •      Everyone uses ArcGIS Pro to share to the portal
    •      Enterprise logins (SSO) can be used to alleviate manual student user creation

  •      ArcGIS Enterprise for a course (base ArcGIS Enterprise deployment managed by instructor, students having standalone ArcGIS Server machines, which they will federate with Portal for ArcGIS)
    •      Instructor has the base ArcGIS Enterprise deployment (Portal for ArcGIS, ArcGIS Server, ArcGIS Data Store, 2 ArcGIS Web Adaptors)
    •      If there are 20 students in a course, each of the 20 students will have their own ArcGIS Server machine – they will be Administrators on the Instructor portal and each student will federate his/her ArcGIS Server site to the Instructor portal (so 20 federated servers). They will do this as an exercise, i.e. practice some of the installation steps, but understand the importance of the portal in a modern Web GIS pattern. They will not get to setup the portal homepage and other settings.
    •      Everyone can leverage advanced services and capabilities.
    •      Everyone uses ArcGIS Pro to share to the portal.
    •      Note, this scenario with many federated servers has not been tested (a couple of universities are planning to implement it in Fall 2018) so please do test and share any results if this is your pattern of choice, especially if you have a lot of students in a course.

  •      Every student gets their own ArcGIS Enterprise deployment (students practice administration of ArcGIS Enterprise, including installation, portal setup (homepage, users, and various administrative duties)). We use this option in a "Web GIS" course at Johns Hopkins University, so I’ll take the liberty to document a few details.
    •      Students were given a scenario that they work for the City of X, and were tasked with deploying and administering a Web GIS in the city's infrastructure, to provide apps and capabilities to the city's constituents. They got to install ArcGIS Enterprise, setup the portal, add users, and wear an administrator hat. They really enjoyed it – it was empowering, after they’ve worked with a SaaS such as ArcGIS Online, to be able to do many things on premise themselves, including Real Time GIS!
    •      We leverage AWS as an infrastructure but this could be done on-premise or with other cloud platforms, such as Azure or Google Cloud (GCP). Every student gets a dedicated EC2 instance. We have AWS federated logins and SSO (which means no manual IAM user creation for students – access gets controlled through Active Directory (AD) groups and roles mapped to them). Therefore, students can just login to the AWS console using their student credentials, and they have privileges to start/stop/restart their own instances and no one else’s.
    •      Esri Cloud Formation, Esri ArcGIS Enterprise AMIs or ArcGIS Enterprise Builder can be used in this scenario.
    •      We favored the use of ArcGIS Enterprise Builder deployed by students on a preconfigured AMI we setup beforehand (starting with the standard AWS Windows Server 2016 instance, turning off Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration, setting up Chrome as a default browser, installing Notepad ++, Installing ArcGIS Pro, copying the install executables on the AMI, and a few other tweaks)
    •      We used AWS Route 53 for DNS, our own domain hosted in AWS (such as gis-jhu.education), and record sets for each student. Let’s Encrypt wildcard cert was used by all students. We could have worked with Central IT to register all student instances with JHU DNS, but they recommended against Elastic IPs, required all internal traffic, which meant the students would have to VPN, which was not ideal for a fully online program, given that our students could be anywhere geographically. Hence, managing everything within AWS appeared to be an easier approach. However, there are many options in terms of networking and fulfilling the system requirements.
    •      At the end of class, we had a DevOps scenario, and students again got to configure a base deployment using Chef Solo (free Chef Client download), and Esri Chef cookbooks, specifically the ArcGIS Enterprise recipe – powerful way to observe Web GIS automation and deploy via a script.

Note that to deploy ArcGIS Enterprise for teaching, licensing will be needed for the ArcGIS Server component as well as the Portal for ArcGIS component. For the Portal for ArcGIS licensing, you will likely need to reach out to your Esri Account Manager and specify the number of named users you’d like to have in your portal. For the last described pattern (each student having their own ArcGIS Enterprise deployment), licensing for the Portal for ArcGIS component would need to be obtained for each student through the ArcGIS Developer Subscription, documented here. Students will get a portal with 5 named users.

If anyone has used the above scenarios, or others, please do share what worked, if any challenges were encountered.