3D Visualization & Analytics

ArcGIS Pro Virtualization: VMWare Blast Extreme and PCoIP overview

When connecting to a virtual machine either on-premises, or in the cloud, users can now choose from several different protocols to make the vital connection between the backend server and the client.  Where once limited to a simple text-based console or Remote Desktop (using RDP), we can now choose from other contemporary protocols.  This blog discusses the performance of PCoIP and Blast, two common protocols that provide the necessary rich 3-D experience for ArcGIS Pro, while maximizing what can often be a constrained network connection on Desktop machines, Thin/Zero-Clients, and mobile devices.  Before diving in, let’s take a moment to understand the difference between PCoIP and Blast.  PCoIP uses the UDP protocol which is suited for media streaming.  To use PCoIP, you need to use a client such as the horizon View client from VMware.  VMware Blast Extreme can also use the same client yet uses the H.264 protocol for encoding video, and shares similar advantages of PCoIP.  Blast, on the other hand, can use a modern browser’s ability to link to the Virtual Machine, without a plugin.  While a user can use a client like the Horizon View client, they can also use a browser such as Chrome or Firefox to access and interact with a VM.  Below is a demonstration of ArcGIS Pro running in both a PCoIP client and using a browser with Blast.

Quality of the network connection has a huge impact in performance and a superior visual experience.  Under ideal circumstances, you may be connecting using a highly optimized LAN with ample bandwidth.  Ultimately though, you may be connecting using a more constrained WAN/Internet, with wireless networks adding yet more instability to the connection.  As you can see in the video, the quality for both systems running is comparable, and both perform well.  ArcGIS Pro was both responsive and snappy to commands.  Beyond testing with just a virtual machine connecting to a laptop, an iPhone was used to connect to the VM.  To connect to the PCoIP instance, like the laptop experience, the iPhone needed to download a client, whereas a blast connection can be made with the browser.   This kind of functionality means that with a virtualized environment ArcGIS Pro and the data can be housed with either a hosted or on premises solution, yet accessed from anywhere, allowing ArcGIS Pro to be taken anywhere and accessed as needed.

For additional information on virtualization please visit https://blogs.esri.com/esri/ and search for “virtualization” for additional information.

Current testing has been performed using a Dell r730 Virtualization Appliance, with information on that hardware able to be found here.

For additional information on VMware Blast please visit

For additional information on PCoIP please visit

About the author

Esri Performance Engineering.

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