ArcGIS Enterprise

Determine whether Kubernetes is right for you

Now that ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes is available to all customers, you might be considering whether this deployment option is right for your organization.

The Introduction to ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes describes how this cloud-native architecture can power your GIS with unparalleled scalability, resilience, and manageability. If you’re new to Kubernetes, a simple way to think about it is that we have added a third way to deploy ArcGIS Enterprise, in addition to on Windows or Linux. And just like with those operating systems, you will need an understanding of how to deploy and manage Kubernetes so that you can successfully run ArcGIS Enterprise running on that technology.

An image describing the Kubernetes cloud-native architecture
ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes provides a cloud-native architecture

Please see your Esri representative if you are considering Kubernetes and need help determining if it might be right for you, or if you have questions about licensing and pricing.

What are the most important considerations?

Deciding whether ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes is a fit for your organization will depend on several things: The investment you make into a modern cloud strategy, your ability to stay current with ArcGIS Enterprise releases, and the capabilities currently supported on Kubernetes.

A Modern Cloud Strategy

The shift toward cloud-native has been underway for some time now. If you’ve used popular streaming or banking services online, you’ve probably used cloud-native technology without even knowing it. Building distributed applications relies on patterns of architecture that involve microservices: purpose-built services that perform a specific task and can be combined with other microservices into a cohesive, functional application. But as a user, you just know that the performance of website you’re using is (usually) responsive and predictable, despite the fact that there are millions of other people using the site or that usage on the site fluctuates wildly over time.

While your organization may not develop distributed applications, your administrators are probably very familiar with cloud services. The major cloud providers have managed services delivering Kubernetes capabilities and using those services does require an investment in training staff, acquiring relevant skills, and practicing proper security and network best practices. Read this Overview to learn about the history of Kubernetes and why it’s so important.

Staying Current with the Software

The ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes deployment option follows a separate and faster product lifecycle from ArcGIS Enterprise on Windows and Linux. See the Technical Support product lifecycle page for details. One of our goals with the Kubernetes deployment option is to ease the process of performing upgrades. An upgrade can be applied from ArcGIS Enterprise Manager or from ArcGIS Enterprise Administrator API. There is no need to install additional software, or to manage individual servers or virtual machines during the process. As a result of reducing this technical complexity, we expect that customers using Kubernetes will be able to upgrade at a faster pace. Each version will be retired one year after its release. Technical support and documentation updates will not be available for retired software.

A timeline of upgrade and update releases
ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes upgrades release twice per year, plus interim updates

Available Functionality

There may be some capabilities that exist in the Windows or Linux deployment options, although we generally include advanced level capabilities for ArcGIS Enterprise. For a detailed list, please see the product documentation or read the most recent blog article for ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes.This may impact whether you can adopt the Kubernetes deployment option at this time. We will continue to ask for your input that helps us prioritize items for inclusion in future releases.

The Kubernetes deployment also includes additional unique functionality, such as the ArcGIS Enterprise Manager, giving you a simple, central view of the software’s current status and health, along with the ability to scale services, review logs, and perform upgrades all within a single tool.

A screenshot of ArcGIS Enterprise Manager
ArcGIS Enterprise Manager gives you a simple, central place to monitor and configure the deployment.

Familiarity with Kubernetes

If cloud-native software sounds like a good fit for your organization, consider your staff’s familiarity with the technology. Managing a Kubernetes environment is very different from working with Windows or Linux servers. Esri has product documentation describing the architecture and explaining how to deploy and manage ArcGIS Enterprise running on Kubernetes, but we do not provide fundamental training on Kubernetes itself. Instead, we encourage customers to check out the many resources available through training and cloud services providers. Our team can recommend several places to look for help. Cloud providers have learning paths related to cloud native architecture and related services and tools, with extensive courses available. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) has training and certification resources for Kubernetes. Also, check out where you will find plenty of learning resources and tutorials.

A matrix showing Kubernetes experience versus requirements
Consider your expertise and requirements when thinking about Kubernetes

If the goals of scalability, resilience and manageability resonate with you, and your team is using or experimenting with Kubernetes, you will have a higher likelihood of success deploying the software and benefitting from the cloud native architecture.

Are there eligibility requirements?

Put simply, no. ArcGIS Enterprise is available to all customers. You do not need to have an Enterprise Agreement with Esri to buy an annual subscription license for the software. Please talk directly with your Esri representative for more details.

With that said, we highly encourage you to have a relationship set up with Esri, your Esri distributor, or an Esri partner that has expertise with ArcGIS Enterprise and with Kubernetes. Deploying on Kubernetes is not a trivial task. Assessing system requirements, designing an installation, deploying and tuning the software on Kubernetes does require a specific skillset and we want you to be successful. An Advantage Program with Esri, if available to you, is a great way to gain access to consulting support such as through Esri Professional Services.

Thanks for reading!

Our goal will always be to help you achieve success in using GIS to solve problems and “See What Other’s Can’t.” Many of our customers and partners are seeking to gain familiarity with Kubernetes because its potential for providing scalability, resilience, and manageability resonates with them. We would like to engage with you in exploring if Kubernetes is right for you.

While ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes is not for everyone, it can certainly help many organizations that have complex deployments and need to keep things manageable, responsive to unpredictable demand, and achieve a high degree of resilience. We hope to hear from you soon!

About the author

Trevor Seaton is a product manager for ArcGIS Enterprise, and part of the team that has built Esri’s cloud-native GIS based on microservices, delivered through containerization, and orchestrated by Kubernetes. You can reach Trevor at


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