This article may reference Continental Mapping, GISinc, or TSG Solutions. These three legacy companies merged in January 2021 to form a new geospatial leader.

On November 12th, 2020 GISinc hosted the ArcGIS Cloud Migration & Strategy Panel Discussion with McCarran International Airport. GISinc recently performed a cloud migration for the Airport and several different topics were discussed in this panel. The following questions were answered as part of this discussion:

  • What you need to know? 
  • What benefits you will receive? 
  • How we navigated the cloud implementation? 

Several additional questions were submitted during the presentation. For your convenience, we have summarized in the Q&A below:

Q: If you spin up AWS Workspace VMs as your desktops, can you just connect with a cheap/lightweight laptop, such as a Chrome Book? 

A: Since all the processing will occur in the VM, a lightweight client can be utilized to make the connection to the workspace. There are several client apps that can be installed on devices including apps for Android/Chrome Book, iPad, Windows, macOS. It is also possible to use supported browsers to access via the web.

See for complete list of clients.

Tony Urquidi - GISinc

Q: Which components of ArcGIS Enterprise should be isolated (ArcGIS Server, Portal for ArcGIS, and Relational Datastore) ... and which can be combined on a server?

A: For Production deployments, they should be separated out as a best practice. While some components can be the same box, you must make sure the components are not going to be fighting each other for resources. Licensing also plays a role into the size of the box that can be deployed.

Tony Urquidi - GISinc

Q: What are your thoughts on isolating the ArcGIS Enterprise components in a cloud environment ... for example, when should the Data Store be on a separate server than ArcGIS Server. Or will a cloud environment scale to accommodate the necessary disk space and the service requests?

A: It is best practice to isolate each component of ArcGIS Enterprise on separate servers. This is beneficial for troubleshooting issues and monitoring of the environment. Isolating also makes it easier to resize instances based on utilization without always being limited by licensing constraints. However, consolidating components in development or non-production environments is generally acceptable.

Zeb Steeby - GISinc

Q: Were there any major differences in your ArcMap enterprise deployment in the cloud vs on-premise? 

A: None really. ArcMap used on premise connect to on prem geodatabase, that geodatabase is synced to the Azure geodatabase. In terms of publishing services, we needed to install ArcMap on the ArcGIS Server.

Melvin Suratos - McCarran International Airport

Q: Are you able to use a managed cloud database service (e.g., AWS RDS) or do you have to host your own database on VMs? 

A: Yes, you can use managed cloud database services if the database is supported by Esri. 

Zeb Steeby - GISinc 

Q: What do you know now that you wish you knew before migrating to the cloud?  Did you notice any latency issues when migrating to the cloud? 

A: An in-depth detail of network/security requirements. If we knew majority of the details beforehand, we wouldn't have been delayed from the initial timeline plan. We did notice some latency issues because the network setup required multiple hops in between before we get the data, this is different than previous on-prem setup.

Melvin Suratos - McCarran International Airport

Q: How did the migration to the cloud change the demand on IT and GIS's time in maintenance of the cloud architecture? 

A: Our GIS team is more focused on data and application use rather than managing ArcGIS software maintenance and patches. IT is less focused on working with ArcGIS software to decide infrastructure patches, and more focused on other system and on-premise maintenance

Melvin Suratos - McCarran International Airport

Q: What are the main differences between Azure Commercial vs. Azure Government?  Are there things you can do that the other cannot? 

A: Both Azure Commercial and Azure Government are FedRamp certified. Azure Government has an extra layer of security, as data will only reside within the US and Azure Employee access to the infrastructure/data is limited to those that have been screened. Integrations with other services are limited and offerings in Azure Government is limited to those that are certified.

Tony Urquidi – GISinc

Q: What are some typical weekly, monthly, and/or yearly maintenance items that a GIS professional could expect when hosting GIS in the cloud? 

A: Make sure to regularly monitor the CPU, memory and storage requirements, and usage throughout the environment so that the systems do not become un-responsive or hit system limits. Check for OS and security patches and validate Esri patches and updates to determine relevance before they are implemented. Monitor access to your environment ensuring only authorized administrators are performing maintenance.

Zeb Steeby – GISinc

Q: What are some of the most common challenges with the transition of on premises Esri enterprise geodatabase storage solutions to cloud based solutions, what are some of the common patterns used, and what are some of the easiest and visible 'wins' by doing a GIS database migration to the cloud?

A: Determining where the data should be stored is a common challenge. It requires knowing all the components that interact with the database; GIS users and how their interactions, third party applications, and any custom scripts. Once these are identified then you can determine the best way forward in migrating the data to the cloud.

Zeb Steeby – GISinc

Q: Similar GIS database question: how easy is it to migrate from one type of enterprise geodatabase (e.g., oracle) to another in the cloud such as PostgreSQL or MS-SQL while maintaining the GIS data synchronized? 

A: Esri supports replication between different RDBMs, moving between or migrating from one RDBMS to another is straight forward and can be achieved by replication, ETL process, or simple copy and paste.

Tony Urquidi – GISinc

Q: Which components of ArcGIS Enterprise should be isolated (ArcGIS Server, Portal for ArcGIS, and Relational Datastore) ... and which can be combined on a server? 

A: For Production deployments, they should be separated out as a best practice. While some components can be the same box, you must make sure the components are going to be fighting each other for resources. Licensing also plays a role into the size of the box you can deploy. 

Tony Urquidi  GISinc 

Q: What is the learning curve difference between migrating to Azure vz. AWS? 

A: They both have a steep learning curve, just dependent on the prior knowledge in networking and system administration. The core concepts can easily be translated between the different cloud providers. 

Zeb Steeby  GISinc 

Q: How safe and secure is the Esri Cloud?  What happens to my data when I am done with the Cloud? Does the Cloud ever have any failures that have a plan when there is any kind of compromise? 

A: Cloud infrastructure can have failures. A recommendation is to always backup your Enterprise in case of a failure along the chain. 

Zeb Steeby  GISinc 

To review security of the cloud visit ArcGIS Trust Center -

To review what happens to your data when see:
Azure -

AWS - (Removed after 90 days of account closure if not deleted manually)

Q: AWS vs. Azure. Why one over the other and what should guide my choice? 

A: There are many factors to consider when choosing a provider. Does your IT currently have a subscription with one or are there plans to use one over the other? Microsoft licensing can also play a role. Do you have Microsoft Software Assurance? That could minimize costs when going to the cloud. Also, are either of the providers in your region? That would minimize latency to your resources and should also be considered

Tony Urquidi – GISinc


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Topics: Enterprise GIS Architecture, GIS Implementation