GEOG 865
Cloud and Server GIS

Setting up a portal


Back in Lesson 2, we installed ArcGIS Enterprise. Per the Esri help topic What is ArcGIS Enterprise, the product comes with:

  • ArcGIS Server
  • Portal for ArcGIS
  • ArcGIS Data Store (this holds data used by the portal)
  • ArcGIS Web Adaptor (this is a small application that allows the portal and server to hook onto your organization’s existing web server)

Up to this point, we've only really interacted with the ArcGIS Server portion of the Enterprise suite of products. And that's perfectly reasonable, because Server is the backbone of Enterprise, and is the component that does the heavy lifting of publishing your data and services. There are many use-cases in which only an ArcGIS Server is utilized in a production setting. Portal is an optional component and one that may be very useful in some cases. A very common setting for a Portal installation is an organization that has a collection of datasets to manage and some number of users that need to interact with the data with varying levels of access and editing privileges. Portal provides a way to interact with Server through a GUI that presents functionality, like users, groups, permissions, and sharing, in a perhaps more user-friendly manner. Read more about Portal on the esri website.

As we saw earlier, installing and configuring ArcGIS Enterprise requires close collaboration with IT staff in your organization, especially if the product will be integrated with existing public facing web sites. The installation requires a web domain name, as well as an SSL certificate that will allow for encrypted connections. This certificate verifies your web address’s identity and is usually obtained for a fee from a certificate authority. IT departments typically manage the acquisition and distribution of these certificates throughout their organizations. One of the most effective things you can do as a GIS professional is to establish a cordial, open, and frequent relationship with your IT staff. This will help things run more smoothly when some careful coordination is needed for configuring web GIS components.

Deploying ArcGIS Enterprise on clouds like AWS or Microsoft Azure might be simpler in some ways than doing it on-premises because Esri has automated parts of the configuration process with tools like Cloud Formation. This is possible because all the software and configuration on the AMIs are well known. Installation in your on-premises environment could become complex if you are running some kind of software, scan, or policy that doesn't "play nicely" with one of the ArcGIS Enterprise components. Furthermore, if you're not on the IT staff, you might have greater control over cloud accounts and environments than you typically do in your on-premises environment. Tools, like Enterprise Builder, exist to facilitate the installation of Enterprise on an existing machine.

Since we used the Cloud Formation template to install Enterprise on our AWS machines, Portal was installed as well. You should be able to connect to your Portal with a URL like You should see a default-looking ArcGIS Online page, which illustrates essentially what Portal is: your own local, stand-alone instance of ArcGIS Online.

Sign in using the ArcGIS Site Admin username and password you created in the Cloud Formation template. You will see options to manage Members (users), view your software licenses (esri software like ArcGIS Pro and other extensions have the option to be licensed through Portal in some cases), monitor the usage of your Enterprise installation, and configure the Settings of your Portal. Explore the Settings options that are available and check out esri documentation to learn more about options like configuring your home page with a custom look and feel, managing your Servers, and specifying default settings.