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Summer 2012 Edition

A New Pattern for GIS

ArcGIS Online for organizations unlocks geospatial assets

This article as a PDF.

ArcGIS Online for organizations instantiates a different pattern of GIS that is about solving new problems, not doing the same things on a new platform. Released in June 2012, it extends the benefits of GIS to everyone in an organization. Because it is integrated with ArcGIS for Desktop and ArcGIS for Server, maps and other products created by GIS professionals can be directly accessed by other members of an organization.

ArcGIS Online is an open data platform for maps and geographic information. This subscription-based service in the cloud makes content and tools directly available to an organization through intelligent web maps and applications that can be accessed from web clients, the desktop, and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Non-GIS professionals can quickly create maps from the unstructured information in spreadsheets and text files and share these maps with others on any device. Through this common infrastructure, knowledge workers, managers, and even casual users can interact with the data and use information derived from it to get work done.

With ArcGIS Online for organizations, administrators can apply fine-grained management and customize appearance and functionality.

With ArcGIS Online for organizations, administrators can apply fine-grained management and customize appearance and functionality.

An annual subscription provides a private instance of Esri's secure, multitenant cloud that's scalable and ready to use. No additional hardware or software is needed to access basemaps and other content for creating and sharing maps and applications. Any user associated with an ArcGIS Online organizational account can quickly share maps by embedding them in a website or blog, through social media, or using a preconfigured web application template. The catalog of these maps and applications can be shared with specific groups, the entire organization, or the public. Note that organizations retain all rights, title, and interest to any content they publish in ArcGIS Online.

Extending ArcGIS Online

Initially, ArcGIS Online was made available through two types of free accounts: anonymous and personal use. Both accounts are for personal, noncommercial use. ArcGIS Online for organizations facilitates the pervasive use of geographic information for all types of uses.

Organizational use extends these capabilities considerably beyond making maps and mashups to creating map services and the unrestricted use of APIs, applications, and tools for commercial purposes. Registering data/services on ArcGIS Online makes them accessible from any device (browsers, mobile devices, and tablets) so anyone can use, make, and share maps. In addition to purchased subscriptions, ArcGIS Online can be deployed on premises. The two approaches, cloud and on-site, can also be blended in a hybrid solution.

With any of these scenarios, ArcGIS Online supplies fine-grained management and customization specific to an organization. It supports three roles: administrator, publisher, and user. Administrators can publish and use content, monitor service consumption, manage users, delete content and groups, determine security policy, and customize the appearance of their instance of ArcGIS Online. Publishers can publish and use content. Named users are the primary consumers of the content and can view and edit content made available by the organization.

The annual subscription plan for ArcGIS Online for organizations is structured to be flexible. Plans begin with five named users and 2,500 service credits. A service credit entitles an organization to consume a set amount of ArcGIS Online services (e.g., storage for feature services, geocoding). Credits can be used in whatever fashion best fits organizational workflows. More users and service credits can be added to the plan at any time. Organizations that have an existing enterprise license agreement (ELA) with Esri receive an ArcGIS Online subscription with a certain number of service credits allocated and unlimited users.

New Insights

Making geospatial content accessible to anyone can create new insights and opportunities for organizations. On-demand and self-serve mapping frees GIS professionals from routine map requests and lets them spend more time creating and publishing authoritative information products. It also fosters better collaboration among teams and departments that can interact using intelligent web maps.

To learn more about ArcGIS Online, visit

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