Architecture practices

The system and solution architecture process of designing with ArcGIS can take many forms. While some projects may have a significant up-front architecture phase, where requirements are carefully defined and reviewed and a specific system design can be generated, other systems or projects may take a more agile approach and need an agile architecture design to match.

While there is no defined proper method, single framework, or best approach to designing an architecture with ArcGIS, this section of the ArcGIS Well-Architected Framework will share best practices, provide guidance on key technology topics and deployment considerations, and generally support a more advanced and effective architecture process for a given system or project.

The practice of architecture as it relates to ArcGIS systems has developed in the Esri community over the past three decades. While concepts like processing power, storage performance or WAN bandwidth remain important to design, new areas of requirements such as security, enterprise integrations, data sovereignty or other topics have added to the importance of a structured architectural approach that considers a wide array of inputs. The practice of designing ArcGIS systems will continually evolve, as new technology drives new requirements, and one of the main challenges (and inspirations) for architects is to stay at the edge of these new trends and tools.

This section of the Well-Architected Framework contains three main sub-sections:

  • Architectural foundations focuses on the design process and architectural approaches
  • Architecting for success focuses on people and process, as well as the overall structure of successful systems
  • Architecture pillars focuses on six key technology areas, providing key considerations, recommendations, and information to be used when designing a system

Architectural foundations

Architectural foundations includes recommendations for how to successfully engage in the architecture design process, along with key deployment concepts, decisions and topics that apply to any ArcGIS system. Design principles include key decisions related to architecture components, extending with ArcGIS SDKs and the concept of environment isolation. The deployment concepts sub-section includes topics on a variety of IT topics as they relate to ArcGIS architectures.

Architecting for success

Successfully designing and operating systems requires careful consideration of people, processes, and governance, which are essential to building a successful, well-adopted and healthy system. Architecting for success includes topics related to governance, staff development, building a GIS program, and more.

Architecture pillars

To support the implementation of system patterns as well as the practice of architecture for ArcGIS systems, Esri has identified six architecture pillars, or technical areas, which contribute significantly to the design and implementation of well-architected systems. This section covers best practices and successful approaches for each of the architecture pillars, while sharing some perspective on how Esri has developed software to support and align with each pillar. The six architecture pillars of the Well-Architected Framework are: automation, integration, observability, performance and scalability, reliability, and security.


Whether automating a software deployment or a specific workflow, automation increasingly drives efficiency in modern systems. This section provides guidance on where automation opportunities exist across the ArcGIS system, and how automation workflows are commonly implemented in ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Enterprise, and ArcGIS Online. Deployment automation through infrastructure-as-code, tools like Chef and PowerShell DSC, and other approaches are also discussed, with links to extensive documentation. Learn more about the automation pillar.


No system operates truly independently, and most have key dependencies on other systems. ArcGIS is an excellent integrator between other enterprise systems, using location as a common layer for data, transactions, workflows and use cases. This section lays out several ways to approach potential integrations along with key technologies that can enable these processes. Common external systems such as data lakes and data warehouses, integration patterns using webhooks, and external architecture components such as API management layers are also discussed. Learn more about the integration pillar.


To understand how a system is operating, and how well or poorly it relates to an established baseline, the observation of system metrics, status, and processes is critical. This section provides topical guidance on how to approach questions of observability in ArcGIS, and provides guidance on how ArcGIS systems can implement observability goals as well as integrating with third party observability offerings. Learn more about the observability pillar.

Performance and scalability

This section provides an approach to establishing performance baselines and optimizing services and systems for performance. Users often judge a system based on their perceived experience of performance, and this pillar is critical to adoption and long term system relevance. Scalability can also be addressed through workload separation, and a robust testing strategy ensures that performance choices and decisions are made from an educated basis. Learn more about the performance and scalability pillar.


Enterprise systems must be reliable, as they run the business of an organization while other business processes integrate with them and rely on them. This pillar includes considerations and recommendations in this area, as architects strive to design systems that meet reliability goals while managing cost and aligning to organizational standards and tools such as load balancers or high availability requirements. Learn more about the reliability pillar.


Whether deploying a system using software, SaaS, or PaaS, establishing the identity of users and securing both the system boundary and internals is critical. This section also provides recommendations related to new security trends in the IT industry and how these technologies interact with an ArcGIS and the architecture process. The ArcGIS Trust Center also provides a wide array of information related to security topics, compliance and privacy. Learn more about the security pillar.