Location services system (SaaS)

The location services system pattern is available as a software as a service (SaaS) based deployment using ArcGIS Online.

ArcGIS Online is a cloud-based GIS managed and delivered as SaaS by Esri. ArcGIS Online provides capabilities that span the data, services/logic, and presentation tiers, working together to provide a complete system. Built on world-class cloud architecture and managed by IT and geographic information system (GIS) experts, ArcGIS Online offers reliable and comprehensive web-based GIS capabilities.

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Base architecture

The following is a typical base architecture for a location services system deployed as SaaS.

This diagram should not be taken as is and used as the design for your system. There are many important factors and design choices that should be considered when designing your system. Review the using system patterns topic for more information. Additionally, the diagram depicted below delivers only the base capabilities of the system; additional system components may be required when delivering extended capabilities.

Location services system base architecture (SaaS)

Key components of this architecture include:

  • ArcGIS Online, including standard portal components such as users, groups, and items, as well as location services such as basemaps and geocoding services. The ArcGIS Online data store hosts organizational data and content used to power location services such as basemaps and reference data layers.
  • Location services systems are used by almost every application, as they are foundational to most workflows and use of ArcGIS. However, applications that use location services are typically provided by other systems or used in custom applications developed using ArcGIS Mapping APIs and SDKs. One exception is the portal website, which serves as a discovery portal where content creators and application developers can find, explore, and interact with location services such as basemaps, geocoding, and spatial analysis.

Key interactions in this architecture include:

  • Client applications communicate with data services as well as location services over HTTPS, typically via stateless REST APIs.

Additional information on using and administering ArcGIS Online can be found in the ArcGIS Online product documentation.


The capabilities of the location services system on SaaS are described below. See the capability overview and comparison of capability support across deployment patterns for more information.

Base capabilities

Base capabilities represent the most common capabilities delivered by location services systems and that are enabled by the base architecture presented above.

Extended capabilities

All of the capabilities provided by an ArcGIS Online based location services system are considered base capabilities. Note that some of the capabilities described above consume ArcGIS Online credits. Additionally, some of the data layers referenced above are considered premium content, which consume credits and require an organizational account to access.


Additional location services and/or supporting content is also available from Esri distributors, partners, and 3rd parties. Discover more at the ArcGIS Marketplace.


The considerations below apply the pillars of the ArcGIS Well-Architected Framework to the location services system pattern on SaaS. The information presented here is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather highlights key considerations for designing and/or implementing this specific combination of system and deployment pattern. Learn more about the architecture pillars of the ArcGIS Well-Architected Framework.


Reliability ensures your system provides the level of service required by the business, as well as your customers and stakeholders. For more information, see the reliability pillar overview.

  • ArcGIS Online leverages multiple availability zones, regions, and service providers to ensure redundancy, resiliency, and service continuity.
  • Service Level Agreement (SLA) provided by ArcGIS Online.
  • Organizations can monitor the health and availability of ArcGIS Online location services at the ArcGIS Online Health Dashboard.
  • When publishing your own location services (for example basemaps) to ArcGIS Online, additional consideration should be given to recoverability. In these scenarios backup processes and procedures external to ArcGIS Online are recommended.


Security protects your systems and information. For more information, see the security pillar overview.

  • Authentication and authorization is required for premium content, credit consuming location services, as well as any private location services published by the organization.
    • User access and data collaboration are governed by role-based access controls and modern authorization and authentication models, including OAuth, SAML, and multifactor authentication.
  • Systems are subject to vulnerability assessments including system, web application, and database scans.
  • Learn more about ArcGIS Online security best practices and implementation guidance.

Performance & scalability

Performance and scalability aim to optimize the overall experience users have with the system, as well as ensure the system scales to meet evolving workload demands. For more information, see the performance and scalability pillar overview.

  • Scaling is handled automatically by ArcGIS Online.
    • Multiple content delivery networks deliver highly scalable maps and apps to diverse locations around the world.
  • For location services published by the organization, regional geospatial data hosting is available in the United States, Europe, and Asia-Pacific to improve performance and support data residency requirements.


Automation aims to reduce effort spent on manual deployment and operational tasks, leading to increased operational efficiency as well as reduction in human introduced system anomalies. For more information, see the automation pillar overview.

  • Esri provided location services in ArcGIS Online are managed by Esri and generally do not require any automation to operate and maintain.
  • Workflows related to the use of location services, and/or publishing and management of organization-specific location services hosted in ArcGIS Online, can be automated. This is most commonly done using the ArcGIS API for Python as well as ArcGIS Notebooks delivered as SaaS through ArcGIS Online. ArcGIS Notebooks are considered outside of the scope of the location services system pattern. For more information, see the self-service mapping, analysis, and sharing system pattern.


Integration connects this system with other systems for delivering enterprise services and amplifying organizational productivity. For more information, see the integration pillar overview.

  • The location services system is most commonly used as a service provider for other systems and applications in use across an organization’s enterprise. As such, integration is very common, and most typically handled via services-level integration.
  • Many of the location services provided by an ArcGIS Online location services system are automatically made available (by default) in other ArcGIS systems, including those based on Windows, Linux, and Kubernetes deployments of ArcGIS Enterprise. Learn more about the relationship between ArcGIS Enterprise and ArcGIS Online.
  • Location services are easily integrated and used outside of the ArcGIS ecosystem using standards-based Mapping APIs, SDKs, and open source libraries.


Observability provides visibility into the system, enabling operations staff and other technical roles to keep the system running in a healthy, steady state. For more information see the observability pillar overview

  • Careful monitoring of service utilization is important with this system pattern. The delivery of location services typically extends to the whole organization (and possibly beyond), and therefore usage patterns and growth may not be anticipated by the system designers or operators. Monitoring helps people make decisions about when to scale and evolve to meet demand while continuing to operate properly (and in accordance with SLAs).
  • ArcGIS Online, as a SaaS offering, does not support observation of its underlying infrastructure and software internals. It does, however, offer ways to observe system utilization and health.
  • Additional observation of user logins and account changes may be possible through the configured identity provider when using SAML and/or OpenID Connect logins.


Additional considerations for designing and implementing a location services system as SaaS include:

  • Management and operation of Esri-provided location services is handled by Esri. Organizations can monitor the health and availability of ArcGIS Online location services at the ArcGIS Online Health Dashboard.
  • When publishing organizational location services data governance and alignment with IT policies and roles, such as data steward and content manager, should strongly be considered when implementing this system pattern.

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