GEOG 865
Cloud and Server GIS

Building an ArcGIS Server site with Cloud Builder


In this part of the lesson, you'll use Cloud Builder to create an ArcGIS Server site on Amazon EC2. Before you attempt the steps below, you should download and sign in to Cloud Builder as described in the previous section. You must also have a working Internet connection.

Note: If you ever open Cloud Builder and get a message about a newer version of Cloud Builder being available, ignore it. Upgrading your Cloud Builder will force you to upgrade your ArcGIS Server version, and we need to all work with the same version in this course.

Follow these steps to get an ArcGIS Server site running with Cloud Builder:

  1. In Cloud Builder, click Create Site.
  2. Type a Name for your site. This name will be used to identify your site in the My Sites screen of Cloud Builder and will be part of the URL used to connect to the site. If you use capital letters in the site name, those letters will be converted to lower-case in the URL. For this reason, you may want to stick with all lower-case.
  3. Type a more detailed Description for your site. Other administrators will be able to read this description when they expand your site in the My Sites screen of Cloud Builder.
  4. In the Software drop-down list, choose ArcGIS 10.5 for Server (Windows). The process for creating a Linux site is nearly identical in Cloud Builder, but logging in and working with Linux is out of the scope of this course.
  5. Provide the License file by browsing to the ArcGIS GIS Server Advanced licensing file (with a .prvc extension) provided by your instructor. (I have placed a link to this file on the Student Downloads page, which is located in the Course Resources section of the Course Introduction module in Canvas. It is not to be used outside of Geog 865.) Then click Next.

    It can take a minute for Cloud Builder to send your license file to Esri and receive the proper authorization to continue. The number of options you see in the subsequent screens is determined by your license level. In our course we are using an ArcGIS Enterprise Advanced license, which allows for multiple machines and the use of large relational databases. A full range of options will be visible to you in Cloud Builder, however to control costs and to provide a simple learning experience you'll create a one-machine site.

    Please make sure that you are using the "Server Advanced" license and not one of the others. Cloud Builder does some license checking but it is buggy so even with the wrong (or an expired) license Cloud Builder will "pass" this test. If you use the wrong license though Cloud Builder will fail to create your instance later in the process - and run for many hours while attempting to create the instance.
  6. You should now be looking at the Amazon Web Services panel of Cloud Builder. You're going to start recognizing some similar choices to what you saw in Lesson 1 when you launched an instance using the AWS Management Console.
  7. Choose a Region and a VPC. Use the VPC and subnet that you created in Lesson 1, which is likely the only one you have available in the Cloud Builder menus. You'll have to make sure you select the region that the VPC is in, which is probably US East (Virginia).
  8. Choose Select existing key pair and choose the geog865 key pair that you created in Lesson 1. Then click Next.
  9. Choose an AGS instance type of t2.medium. Read about "burstable" performance here and think about if that might be appropriate for what you're doing -Amazon FAQ: Burstable Performance Instances.
    Medium is the least expensive instance that can run ArcGIS Server at a reasonable speed for this course. At the time of this writing, it costs about 6.5 cents per hour to run a Medium instance on Windows in most regions (Amazon EC2 Pricing).
  10. Now define the size of the EBS volume (an additional storage drive) that gets attached to your instance by changing the default of 100 GB to a lower number of 50 GB. You'll encounter this drive later in the lesson; it's where you'll put all your data for this course. Because we won't be using 100 GB of data, I have asked you to reduce the size of the created drive. You pay a small fee for each GB of storage required by your disk drives.

    Leave unchecked the option to delete the root drive and storage drives when the site is terminated.

    Now you'll choose the number of instances that will be participating in your site. This is where you start to see the power of Cloud Builder to launch a potentially big and scalable site. You can also create a really expensive site by not setting these values judiciously, so follow the instructions carefully!
  11. Leave Number of EC2 instances as 1.
  12. Leave Enable auto-scaling unchecked; however, take a moment to examine how the auto-scaling options could help you build an elastic site. You can set thresholds that raise or lower the number of machines participating in your site based on CPU usage over a period of time. For example, the default thresholds would add a new instance to your site if CPU usage exceeded 80% for more than 5 consecutive minutes, and it would remove an instance from your site if CPU usage remained below 20% for 5 consecutive minutes. These auto-scaling features were not invented by Esri; they are built into Amazon EC2.

    When you're done viewing the auto-scaling options, click Next. You're now viewing the Geodatabase panel of Cloud Builder, where you can choose whether an Esri enterprise geodatabase should be configured on your site. A geodatabase of this nature, which can work with versioned data, is required for the next lesson so that you can create an application for editing data over the web.
  13. Check Include enterprise geodatabase and choose Microsoft SQL Server Express on an ArcGIS Server EC2 instance. Then click Next.

    You might have noticed options to put the geodatabase on its own dedicated instance. This is recommended if you want to use a larger instance for the geodatabase, or if you don't want ArcGIS Server and the geodatabase to be competing for resources on the same instance. However, it is more expensive to run a separate instance for the geodatabase and unnecessary for this course.
  14. In addition to launching instances, Cloud Builder also creates the ArcGIS Server site (something you have to do manually if you install the software yourself). This requires a "primary site administrator" name and password that you'll use when you perform administrative functions on your ArcGIS Server site. The primary site administrator is not an account that exists on your domain or operating system,it's used by ArcGIS Server only. Therefore, you can type any name and password you want.
  15. Enter a username and password for the ArcGIS Server primary site administrator account. You'll need to repeat the password to confirm. Write this down and put it some place where you can easily find it in the future.

    Optionally, when building a site whose communication will be encrypted, you can allow Cloud Builder to apply a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate that you have previously uploaded to Amazon. This is beyond the scope of this course, so leave Install SSL certificate unchecked and click Next to move to the Summary panel.
  16. Examine the details about the site you are going to create, then click Finish.

It will probably take 10 - 15 minutes to create your site. While that's happening, you can click the In Progress icon to see more details about what functions Cloud Builder is performing behind the scenes. If it takes longer than about 30 minutes the issue is likely to be the wrong license file problem mentioned above.

Once your site is created, you'll see icons for Backups, Stop, Update, and Delete. When you've finished your coursework for the day, you should always click Stop in order to keep costs down. This takes your site back down to one instance (if you had built a large site), then stops that instance. You can click Start when you're ready to work again. It can take a few minutes to start the site.

Expand the white arrow next to the site name to view more details about your site. The most important piece of information here is the Manager URL. In the next section, you'll use this link to explore ArcGIS Server Manager, a web-based administrative interface into ArcGIS Server.