Esri has its Head in the “Cloud”...And its Products Too #esrifedcon

While at the Esri Federal GIS Conference in Washington, D.C. this week I attended two session on Esri's strategy for cloud computing. The first was a private session hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS); the second was a public forum conducted by Esri's ArcGIS Server product managers.

ArcGIS Users should take away a few key points:

  1. Amazon Web Services is the preferred cloud infrastructure provider. That may be obvious to some but it was made very clear at this event.
  2. Users can expect that nearly 100% of Esri's product will move the cloud eventually.
  3. And if there was any doubt, it sure looks like Esri has their act together regarding pricing, service level agreements, enterprise license agreements and subscription models as they apply to a user's current configuration and how to migrate to the cloud.

This was not the case two years ago when every software solution provider was saying, "we're moving to the cloud … come along with us." To most, cloud computing was really nebulous in 2010.

Now, it's not a "cloudy" picture at all of how you move to the cloud; it's just a matter of when and do we have the money. Actually, money seems to be less of a concern than "how fast we can move so that we can same money sooner." Federal, state and local governments, while cash strapped, recognize the value proposition and are ready to move. Chris Thomas from Esri told me that educational institutions are adopting cloud computing at an even more rapid pace. Everyone likes scalability and the idea of only paying for what they use.

At this stage of evolution of Esri's product suite, not all of which has moved to a cloud platform, Esri is quite happy to deploy on-premise, cloud or a hybrid solution. And in the ArcGIS Server presentation, Esri was offering sound advice to make sure users asked the right questions about reliability, scalability, security and flexible budgeting. Esri was also advising on the minimum configuration to run ArcGIS Server on an Amazon Web Services cloud as follows:

  • Standard large ( 7.5 gb memory; dual port; 4 EC2 compute units) - smallest configuration to run ArcGIS Server
  • Storage - S3 (simple storage service) or Elastic Block Storage (EBS)
  • Prices vary by geographic region depending on where you deploy your service (different zones = different data centers)
  • Esri provided AMIs - ArcGIS 10 sp2 (available in all regions)
  • Costs from Amazon

    • Machine cost: instance size and type; storage; bandwidth
    • Other costs: extra storage (S3, CloudFront)
    • Elastic Load Balancer, Elastic ip, Route 53
    • Monitoring: CloudWatch

Amazon stands ready with a secure solution just for government agencies. According to one of their marketing pieces:

AWS GovCloud (US) is a new AWS Region designed to allow US government agencies and contractors to move more sensitive workloads into the cloud by addressing their specific regulatory and compliance requirements, such as ITAR, which governs how organizations manage and store defense-related data. Because AWS only allows US Persons to physically and logically access the AWS GovCloud network, government agencies can now manage more heavily regulated data in AWS while remaining compliant with US Persons only access requirements.

And Esri is ready to help with cloud bundles, hosting, jumpstart packages and architecture assistance as well as easing concerns over Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certification. In all, these presentations certainly should have increased the comfort level with users whose next move is in the clouds.

Published Friday, February 24th, 2012

Written by Joe Francica

Published in

Esri Technology

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