Self-service mapping, analysis, and sharing system (SaaS)

The self-service mapping, analysis, and sharing 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 self-service mapping, analysis, and sharing 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.

Self-service mapping, analysis, and sharing 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 location services powering the self-service mapping, analysis, and sharing system may also come in part or in full from another location services system. ArcGIS Online also includes feature services, vector tile services, and map tile services to provide mapping and visualization capabilities (and more). The ArcGIS Online data store hosts organizational data and content used to power location services.
  • A wide range of web, mobile, and desktop applications designed to support a variety of user personas and workflows. Learn more about the applications used in a self-service mapping, analysis, and sharing system.

Hosting for custom, full-code web applications is not provided by ArcGIS Online. External web hosting (e.g., web server), not depicted in the diagram above, is required for hosting custom, full-code web applications.

Key interactions in this architecture include:

  1. 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 self-service mapping, analysis, and sharing system on SaaS are described below. See the capability overview and comparison of capability support across deployment patterns for more information.

Capabilities used in a self-service mapping, analysis, and sharing system, but typically provided by other systems, such as basemaps, geocoding, and other location services provided by a location services system are not listed below. Learn more about related system patterns.

Base capabilities

Base capabilities represent the most common capabilities delivered by self-service mapping, analysis, and sharing systems and that are enabled by the base architecture presented above.

Extended capabilities

Extended capabilities are typically added to meet specific needs or support industry specific data models and solutions, and may require additional software components or architectural considerations.

  • Increase ArcGIS Online subscription feature data storage and support for intensive query, edit, analysis, and extract with Premium Feature Data Store options.
  • Data interoperability and transformation capabilities support data movement among hundreds of systems and apps using the visual programming interface provided by ArcGIS Data Interoperability, which includes reading and writing to hosted feature services in ArcGIS Online. An alternative for easily creating and scheduling simple pipelines that write data to ArcGIS Online is Data Pipelines.
  • Workflow management and automation self-service mapping, analysis, and sharing workflows with the capability to orchestrate and automate work across teams using ArcGIS Workflow Manager.
  • Advanced exploratory analytics, provided by ArcGIS Insights, empowers analysts of all skill levels to directly connect data, perform advanced analytics, and take results into third-party systems. Learn more about ArcGIS Insights as SaaS using ArcGIS Online.
  • Community engagement organizes people, data, and tools through information-driven initiatives. Community engagement is powered by ArcGIS Hub with a Premium license level. ArcGIS Hub Premium includes features and capabilities for working with teams of people (including members of the community). Learn more about the features of ArcGIS Hub Premium.
  • Indoor GIS extends the capabilities of ArcGIS Online with ability to create and manage floor plan data, map building interiors, and share floor-aware maps and services. This capability requires ArcGIS Pro, and is made possible by ArcGIS Indoors. Indoor GIS also extends the capabilities of ArcGIS Online with indoor space management and workspace reservations using ArcGIS Indoor Spaces, a capability delivered through ArcGIS Indoors.
  • Market intelligence, powered by ArcGIS Business Analyst, enables people to make smarter decisions for market planning, site selection, and customer segmentation by combining demographic, business, lifestyle, spending, and census data with map-based analytics. Learn more about the web and mobile apps powered by ArcGIS Business Analyst and ArcGIS Online.
  • Urban planning and design, powered by ArcGIS Urban, enables planners and design professionals to collaborate across teams with a web-based 3D application that supports scenario planning and impact assessment. ArcGIS Urban enables the digital transformation of city and regional planning to encourage collaboration with community stakeholders and help all groups work toward a more sustainable future. ArcGIS Urban is delivered as SaaS through ArcGIS Online.
  • Environmental impact planning is provided by ArcGIS GeoPlanner, a geodesign and scenario planning application that keeps the pulse on the environmental impact for new or existing designs. With spatial context and visual storytelling, ArcGIS GeoPlanner helps communicate design intent while balancing environmental constraints. ArcGIS GeoPlanner is delivered as SaaS through ArcGIS Online.
  • Project delivery and coordination enables architecture, engineering, construction (AEC) and operations teams to easily work with linked data and documentation in configurable web apps to simplify communication and collaboration. Learn more about this capability powered by ArcGIS GeoBIM and ArcGIS Online.
  • Other industry solutions allow for rapid deployment of industry-specific apps and configurations of ArcGIS Online using ArcGIS Solutions.


The considerations below apply the pillars of the ArcGIS Well-Architected Framework to the self-service mapping, analysis, and sharing 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, 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.
  • Backup processes and procedures external to ArcGIS Online are common, though typically implemented more frequently with location services and enterprise applications delivered as SaaS through ArcGIS Online. Preventing accidental deletion is also possible using the delete protection feature.
  • Organizations can monitor the health and availability of ArcGIS Online location services at the ArcGIS Online Health Dashboard.


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

  • Authentication and authorization is required for almost all uses of a self-service mapping, analysis, and sharing system. One notable exception is the use of publicly shared maps and apps, which is supported for anonymous users.
    • Due to the wide range of users logging in from across the organization, this system pattern almost always leverage a single sign-on (SSO) approach to authentication. SSO is typically implemented using SAML and/or OpenID Connect.
    • User access and data collaboration are governed by role-based access controls and modern authorization and authentication models, including OAuth, SAML, OpenID Connect, 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.
  • 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.

  • Automation related to publishing, content management, analytics, as well as administration is common with ArcGIS Online. This is typically done using the ArcGIS API for Python as well as ArcGIS Notebooks delivered as SaaS through ArcGIS Online.


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

  • Incorporation of external data and services into this system for self-service mapping and analysis workflows is common. Integration approaches tend to focus on data or services-level integration, sometimes involving automation. Learn more about integration approaches and methods.
  • Sharing of maps and other content from this system with other systems across the enterprise is common. Learn more about integration approaches and methods.
  • Self-service mapping, analysis, and sharing systems are commonly integrated with other ArcGIS systems. Learn more about related system patterns.
  • Organizations may deploy and connect more than one of these systems together, often to establish boundaries when engaging different groups of stakeholders, for example, across multiple departments or for internal and external use.


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.

  • Observability is especially important with this system pattern. The flexible, self-service use of this system benefits greatly from governance, which is best implemented through awareness of evolving usage patterns and practices learned through observation. Organizations getting started with this system pattern are strongly encouraged to introduce governance and change management policies early. Additionally, ongoing review and housekeeping of content, groups, and users is strongly recommended, and can be enabled in large part through automation.
  • 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.
  • Some extended capabilities of this system pattern, such as workflow management and automation with ArcGIS Workflow Manager, have additional observability support. Review the corresponding product documentation for more information.
  • Web analytics can be used with ArcGIS Hub sites, ArcGIS Instant Apps, ArcGIS StoryMaps, and custom applications.
  • 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 self-service mapping, analysis, and sharing system as SaaS include:

  • Organizations getting started with this pattern are strongly encouraged to introduce governance and change management policies early.
  • Organizations should review and consider organization-level business and IT guidance around security and data sharing and implement data and application-level security protocols within the system as appropriate.

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