Demystifying the Cloud

Heard about the cloud, but not quite sure what it is? Storing all your data locally but running out of space? Can’t keep up with the maintenance on your on-site servers? If you answered yes, then utilizing the cloud may be your next step.

Cutout of cloud on paper, blue sky with clouds in background.

What is the cloud?

The cloud is essentially off-site storage for your data that you access using the internet. You can access anything stored in the cloud by simply having internet access. The cloud makes it easy for multiple users to access the same data without having to be in the same office. Storing things in the cloud is a big help for freeing up storage and computing power on your local machine too.

You are probably already using the cloud in other aspects of your life like iCloud, Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox. Your data, software, applications, and more are stored on a server housed in a server farm run by companies like Amazon, Microsoft, or Google. They take on the cost of managing the physical storage and maintenance of the machines.

Using the cloud with ArcGIS Enterprise

When it comes to using the cloud for GIS, one great use is for your ArcGIS Enterprise deployment. You have the flexibility to do what you want to meet your business needs. Using the cloud, you can create a variety of deployments from single machine to multi-machine high availability, it is all up to you.

Hosting ArcGIS Enterprise in the cloud allows you to eliminate local machines, their maintenance, and some of their limitations. With AWS or Azure you are able to select the appropriate machine size and scale up (or out) as needed. No need to wait for a new server to be delivered or worry about choosing the right physical machine for capacity planning. This is also an ideal environment if you have plans to add more server roles, such as Imagery Server or GeoEvent Server, down the line.

Cloud with ArcGIS base deployment structure diagram.
Cloud deployments are structured similarly to on premises deployments. Source: Esri.

Have existing local machines, but need to scale out? You can do mixed deployments too, by using cloud hosted machines for your new servers.

Why should you use the cloud?

Flexibility. As the need for more bandwidth, storage, and users increases, you can easily leverage what you need without replacing your existing infrastructure.

Automatic software updates. With cloud technology, you’ll never have to worry about resource updates or getting locked into an outdated solution.

Access from anywhere. In a multi-medium world, you need the ability to work from desktops, phones, and tablets. The cloud gives you the freedom to access data from all your devices.

Increase collaboration. Your team can utilize the same GIS data from office to field, without worrying about things getting lost in a transfer.

Simple setup. Get the solutions you want quickly and easily, without the cost of in-house setup.

Disaster Recovery. In the past, when servers stopped working, so did work. Now, you can minimize downtime. The cloud has a simple disaster-recovery plan in place.

Next Steps

Want to take advantage of the cloud, but not sure where to start? Our Enterprise team can help set everything up if you are ready to manage things in house. We also offer Managed Services and hosting on our GEOPowered Cloud if you aren’t ready to support a deployment in house. Connect with us at to learn more and discuss solutions.

Other Resources

Jr Solution Engineer

Michelle is a passionate and self-starting GIS professional looking to change the world with mapping. She works with our Enterprise team, supporting the daily operations of our GEOPowered Cloud.