About reference architectures

Reference architectures are examples of systems built with ArcGIS. They are blueprints that incorporate one or more system patterns, focus on a specific deployment model, and provide design considerations based on the architecture pillars of the ArcGIS Well-Architected Framework.

The intent of providing reference architectures is to help organizations design well-architected systems. Specifically, reference architectures aim to complement and ground the concepts, patterns, and practices described in the framework with more concrete, logical-level architecture examples leveraging a system design approach.


Reference architectures do not necessarily represent the recommended architecture for all possible systems of that type. Following a structured and comprehensive design process is critical, and these examples can serve as useful references to help guide that process.

Reference architectures are a brand new addition to the ArcGIS Architecture Center. There are two currently available, and more to come soon!

Network Management System reference architecture Network Management System. This reference architecture is a logical blueprint for a foundational modern Network Management System for an electric or gas utility. It is built upon the data editing and management system pattern to support the ArcGIS Utility Network and long transaction management using ArcGIS Enterprise on Windows or Linux.
Parcel Management System reference architecture Parcel Management System. This reference architecture is a logical blueprint for a foundational modern Parcel Management System for organizations that manage parcels, such as local and state government agencies. It is built upon the data editing and management system pattern to support ArcGIS Parcel Fabric using ArcGIS Enterprise on Windows or Linux.

Anatomy of a reference architecture

Reference architectures presented in the ArcGIS Architecture Center have four primary elements:


This section introduces the system represented in the reference architecture and describes which system pattern(s) and deployment model it is based upon. It also outlines some of the key capabilities the system delivers (for example, service-based editing or data collection) and the software components that are included in the architecture to enable those capabilities, such as ArcGIS Pro or ArcGIS Enterprise.

Intended workflows

Each reference architecture is based on a set of intended workflows, a specific though not exhaustive set of workflows that users of the system are expected to perform on a regular basis. Workflows in this context refer to a series of tasks that a user performs using the system to achieve a specific business process or objective. The workflows in a reference architecture are intended to be general enough to represent many possible deployments.

Workflows are an integral part of the reference architecture – they help define and inform requirements such as:

  • The necessary capabilities and the appropriate applications that end-users will interact with.
  • Important design choices related to architecture pillars like performance and scalability, reliability, and security.
  • Physical system requirements such as compute, memory, storage, and networking, which directly impact machine types, sizes, and hardware configurations.

Logical reference architecture

This is where you will find a logical diagram of the reference architecture. A logical architecture is different from a physical architecture - it does not present a level of detail that can be directly implemented. Instead, the logical diagram illustrates the core software components of the system, how they are separated or combined into logical groupings, and the key interactions between them. Accompanying the diagram is a high-level description of each software component and the role it plays in the system, along with key interactions between these software components.

Design choices and considerations

This section describes important architectural domains and associated design considerations related to technical (non-functional) requirements of the system. The design choices and considerations are organized around the architecture pillars, where each pillar represents a category of design considerations that will impact an organization’s ability to meet or exceed technical requirements such as performance or reliability expectations defined in a Service Level Agreement. This section offers a set of considerations and recommendations associated with each pillar, though it does not represent a complete set of all architectural considerations.

More to come!

These reference architecture resources are an exciting addition to the ArcGIS Architecture Center website. We hope they help you inform your design process and move towards the goal of successfully designing and implementing business systems with ArcGIS. We will continue to publish more reference architectures, so stay tuned for new additions to the site, and let us know what you’d like to see next through the Tell us what you think links at the bottom of each page!