VDI and ArcGIS Pro

Desktop software virtualization is a common practice for organizations with extensive desktop user communities. As user hardware such as desktop or laptop computers have become more complicated to manage (such as security, patching or upgrading), organizations have looked to thin client or virtual application strategies to encourage consistency, allocate resources based on demand, and manage user experiences towards specific workflows and workloads. Virtualization, if properly designed, can also significantly affect overall costs by ensuring that excess hardware is not deployed beyond the current user requirements. ArcGIS applications have been deployed in virtualized systems since these were first introduced, and the body of knowledge related to recommendations and considerations has grown through this time.

When deploying ArcGIS Pro to a virtual environment, it’s essential to reserve and allocate resources effectively to ensure optimal performance and stability. ArcGIS Pro is a resource-intensive application; adequately managing resources in a virtualized environment is critical. Here are some key considerations regardless of the underlying virtualization platform. Deploying GPU-based Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) on-premises can significantly enhance the performance and capabilities of ArcGIS Pro on a virtualized desktop environment.

Resource allocation for ArcGIS Pro on virtual servers is crucial for optimizing performance, ensuring scalability, and maintaining stability. While Esri maintains a white paper on virtualizing ArcGIS Pro, here are some key considerations when choosing a virtualization GPU.

GPU hardware selection

Selecting the proper GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) becomes pivotal for ensuring the performance and scalability of ArcGIS Pro within a virtualization setup. This list delves into critical factors organizations must consider when choosing the most suitable GPU. It explores compatibility with the virtualization platform, VRAM capacity, GPU models, and budget constraints, among other crucial considerations, providing valuable insights for informed decision-making.

  • Ensure compatibility of the GPU with your virtualization platform and ArcGIS Pro by checking the GPU compatibility matrix provided by the virtualization software vendor and Esri.
  • Choose a GPU model that matches the workload. For more demanding GIS tasks, opt for higher-end GPUs to achieve optimal performance.
  • Select a GPU with sufficient VRAM to handle ArcGIS Pro’s graphics-intensive tasks, especially when working with large datasets and complex visualizations.
  • Look for GPUs that support virtual GPU (vGPU) technologies like NVIDIA GRID or AMD MxGPU, enabling shared GPU resources among multiple virtual machines.
  • Based on performance and cost requirements, decide whether to use GPU pass-through (dedicating a GPU to a single VM) or shared GPU (multiple VMs share one GPU).
  • Choose a GPU profile tailored to the needs of your ArcGIS Pro users. Options include 3D, compute, and visualization profiles, each optimized for specific tasks.
  • Assess the support and integration GPU vendors provide (e.g., NVIDIA or AMD) with the virtualization platform and ArcGIS Pro.
  • Balance your GPU choice with budget constraints. High-end GPUs can be expensive, so select one that aligns with your organization’s financial resources.
  • Plan for future growth by selecting GPUs with easy scalability to accommodate the expanding user bases and workloads in the virtualized ArcGIS Pro environment.

VDI software selection

When an organization begins implementing Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) to host ArcGIS Pro, selecting VDI software becomes a critical and pivotal decision. The following list outlines essential factors to assist organizations in making an informed choice of VDI software for their ArcGIS Pro deployment, ensuring the creation of a seamless and efficient virtualized GIS environment.

  • Verify VDI software compatibility with ArcGIS Pro and check for Esri’s specific compatibility guidelines.
  • Ensure VDI software supports GPU acceleration for optimal performance, especially in 3D and complex GIS tasks.
  • Understand licensing requirements for both VDI software and ArcGIS Pro, ensuring compliance and necessary licenses.
  • Assess user experience, focusing on responsiveness, graphics quality, and remote access, which are vital for GIS professionals.
  • Evaluate VDI software performance, considering resource allocation, scalability, and the handling of resource-intensive GIS workloads.
  • Confirm VDI software can meet ArcGIS Pro’s network and bandwidth requirements with features like adaptive network management.
  • Evaluate storage management capabilities, including data deduplication, caching, and integration with high-performance storage solutions.
  • Consider security features like encryption, access controls, and compliance with industry standards and regulations.
  • Assess scalability to accommodate user growth and GIS workloads as your organization expands.
  • Ensure seamless integration with other tools and systems, like identity management and GIS databases.
  • Check for available support and the size of the user community, which can be invaluable for issue resolution and knowledge sharing.
  • Calculate the total cost of ownership (TCO) for licensing, hardware, and operational expenses. Evaluate the return on investment (ROI).
  • Plan user training to ensure effective use of ArcGIS Pro within the VDI environment.

VDI user profiles

VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) user profiles are essential for creating a personalized and efficient virtual desktop experience. Here are the basics of VDI user profiles for running ArcGIS Pro:

  • VDI environments for ArcGIS Pro can utilize both roaming and non-roaming profiles. Roaming profiles provide a consistent user experience across sessions, while non-roaming profiles are specific to individual virtual desktops.
  • User profiles in this context include settings and preferences specific to ArcGIS Pro and personalization elements like custom toolbars, project templates, and data connections.
  • Most VDI solutions incorporate user profile management tools to efficiently create, manage, and maintain ArcGIS Pro user profiles. These tools ensure that ArcGIS Pro configurations are consistent and readily available.
  • Roaming user profiles for ArcGIS Pro often requires synchronization to keep settings, project templates, and data connections consistent across different VDI sessions.
  •  In VDI environments for ArcGIS Pro, it’s common to separate user data (GIS project data, datasets) from user profiles. User data may be stored in network locations, while profiles primarily contain ArcGIS Pro settings and customizations.
  • Profile management tools may offer optimization features tailored for ArcGIS Pro, ensuring configurations load quickly and efficiently during sessions. This includes caching project templates and frequently used GIS resources.
  • Regularly back up ArcGIS Pro user profiles to prevent custom settings and data loss in case of profile corruption or system failures. Implement recovery processes to restore these profiles quickly.
  • Use Group Policy settings to configure profile management policies specifically for ArcGIS Pro. These settings may specify profile locations, access permissions, and user-specific GIS configurations.
  • VDI administrators can customize user profiles to provide specific ArcGIS Pro configurations, including access to custom toolboxes, extensions, and GIS datasets tailored to different user roles or departments.
  • Implement security measures to protect ArcGIS Pro user profiles, including access controls, encryption, and monitoring to safeguard sensitive GIS data and configurations.
  • Consider the scalability and performance of user profiles within VDI solutions for ArcGIS Pro, especially in large deployments. This ensures that ArcGIS Pro sessions efficiently load user-specific settings and data.

User profiles in VDI solutions for ArcGIS Pro are integral to delivering a consistent, efficient, and personalized GIS experience while allowing GIS professionals to maintain their custom configurations and data access. Properly managing and optimizing these profiles are essential for a successful ArcGIS Pro VDI implementation.

When virtualizing ArcGIS Pro, careful resource allocation and software selection are fundamental for achieving optimal performance and stability. The resource intensive nature of ArcGIS Pro requires well-managed resource allocation in any virtualization environment. This guide has highlighted key considerations for deploying GPU-based Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and selecting the right GPU. Choosing the appropriate VDI software is equally important, ensuring compatibility, GPU acceleration, and an efficient user experience. Additionally, understanding the fundamentals of VDI user profiles is crucial for creating a personalized and productive virtual desktop environment. These considerations are essential for organizations looking to leverage the power of ArcGIS Pro in a virtualized setting, where performance and customization are key to GIS success.

For more information, see ArcGIS Pro in a virtualized environment.