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The Demands and Solutions for Modern-Day GIS

Posted by Jason Harris on Aug 28, 2017 5:12:35 PM

With an estimated 70% of organizations overspending on hosting and a 30% first-time deployment failure rate, the need for expertise is real. The goals of increased agility, innovation, and lower costs, when coupled with the complexities of managing a modern-day GIS infrastructure, create a challenging task for CIO’s, IT Professionals, and GIS Managers. Organizational leaders must understand all the risks and opportunities in GIS infrastructure management.

Leading up to our live webinar on September 12th at 2:00pm EST I will be focusing on some key considerations everyone should explore before committing resources. Register Now.

Topic 1… How We Got Here.

In June of 2009, I found myself in a tough spot as the guy who was in charge of the servers. ROK fell victim to its own success. Earlier in the month we released a ArcGIS Server web application that unexpectedly got picked up by the Associated Press and was blasted out to every corner of the internet - USA Today, Google News, NBC News - you name it and our application landed on the front page. Sure, that was great exposure for us, but it absolutely decimated our servers. Under that level of load they were rendered worthless. Now, mind you, we had invested heavily in our old-school rack system. This wasn't some ragtag setup we were running. This was top of the line, expensive server equipment. Most days, maybe they'd run at, maybe 25% capacity. We had to buy that extra 75% of capacity for those 'what-if' moments - even though they might never come. Well, long story short, if your application ends up on the front page of the internet, that extra server capacity you set aside isn’t going to save you. It was right then and there that I knew that there had to be a better way. It just so happened that this thing called AWS was starting to get some attention in the techie-nerd circles.

So, I bet you guessed right. We went ahead and moved all of infrastructure to the cloud. Some huge benefits were immediately apparent. We could size our servers for the load they were getting that day. We didn't have to pay for all the extra capacity that we weren't using - that extra 75%. Huge cost savings right there. As we have all had told to us over and over by now - with the cloud you just pay for what you use. Size your servers for the current load and scale them up as demand increases.

As time went on, ROK found itself hosting hundreds and hundreds of ArcGIS Server Map Services, most of which had a backed SDE/SQL Server data source. We had moved to the cloud, so it was easy to scale the hardware appropriately to meet the growing demands - but we needed to grow in a manageable way. As ArcGIS Server ASP providers, we are bound to very specific cpu-core licensing. We cant just add more CPU's to a server when we needed it to perform faster and handle more requests. This forced us all, as a team, to approach ArcGIS Server much differently than most people probably do. If you are running your own on-premise ArcGIS Server, you may have the freedom to just publish mapservice after mapservice. Well, we did not - as every service we publish takes up x amount of capacity that we had to pay for in licensing fees. We had to tweak every last bit of performance of every map service. That meant making sure the web adapter was working right, all the SQL indexes were built just right, enough instances were allotted to each map service, etc. As a result of all this performance tuning, the ROK team got very, very good at managing the ArcGIS Enterprise stack. We have mission critical services running on our infrastructure that have to be up and running at peak performance 24/7/365.

This led to our latest offering. Managed Cloud Services. The ROK Team has, over the years, acquired a very specialized skill set as it applies to keeping the ArcGIS stack up, running smoothly and at peak performance. The responsibilities of a GIS person have grown from a 'map maker' to a DBA, Web Server administrator, ArcGIS Server admin, Portal Admin, security expert and all things in between. It's not a simple task any more. There are many moving pieces that must be considered when tuning a system. Over the coming weeks I will be focusing on some key considerations everyone should explore before committing resources. On September 12th at 2:00pm EST I will be hosting a live webinar. Please join us to further the conversation. Register Now.

Written By, 

Jason Harris, CTO @ ROK Technologies, LLC

Topics: GIS experts, ArcGIS Hosting, ArcGIS Troubleshooting, AWS, Cloud GIS, Cloud Reliability, managed IT services, managed services, cloud hosting, cloud services, cloud data

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