ArcGIS Enterprise

Frequently asked questions about Kubernetes

This article was written in May 2021. Some information in this article may be superseded by a newer article: “What’s new in ArcGIS Enterprise 11.1 on Kubernetes“, published in September 2023

ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes is available to eligible customers starting with the ArcGIS 2021 release in Q2. In this blog, find answers to questions we commonly hear about this new cloud native architecture for ArcGIS Enterprise. To learn more, read What is ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes and Determine whether Kubernetes is right for you.

Please see your Esri representative for questions related to eligibility, if you are considering Kubernetes and help determining if it might be right for you.

What is ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes? 

ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes is a cloud native deployment option for ArcGIS Enterprise based on the principles of microservices and delivered through containerization. Kubernetes is an open-source system that automates deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Esri has completely re-architected ArcGIS Enterprise to take full advantage of cloud native software, helping you deliver GIS on environments you control, whether in the cloud or on-premises. 

How will ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes benefit me?

For our customers who are investing in cloud native technology, the Kubernetes deployment option for ArcGIS Enterprise provides a number of benefits.
Administrators can enjoy streamlined deployment and upgrade experiences. They receive increased visibility into the health of the system, thanks to granular logging at a microservices level, and the system provides high availability out of the box as a result of the resilience features provided by Kubernetes orchestration. Scalability is also an important benefit of the new architecture, helping you adjust infrastructure capacity in response to unpredictable swings in demand.

Users will have a similar ArcGIS Enterprise experience no matter what technology is being used behind the scenes (Windows, Linux, or Kubernetes). They may experience better system performance should remain consistent despite fluctuations in usage and other indirect benefits. This stability is another benefit of the resource management provided by Kubernetes orchestration.

Kubernetes may help reduce infrastructure costs, helping you fine-tune compute and memory resources and can match your capacity for GIS services more closely to demand.

How is ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes different from other deployment options?

The administrative experience will feel very different, especially with deploying and upgrading ArcGIS Enterprise, as well as monitoring and managing services running in the environment. Please note that there are no new or unique GIS capabilities being added to the Kubernetes deployment option beyond what is available in Windows or Linux. A new administrative interface, ArcGIS Enterprise Manager, empowers administrators to manage their deployment on Kubernetes. Usage metrics are also available to help administrators build dashboards, such as on Prometheus, to help them further extend their ability to manage the environment.

Architecturally, there are no longer separate components such as ArcGIS Server, Portal for ArcGIS, and the ArcGIS Data Store. Instead, these components are broken down into smaller microservices. This means that certain constructs like an ArcGIS Server site are replaced by computing resources managed entirely at the service level.

Within the infrastructure, there are also many differences.  A Kubernetes cluster is made up of interchangeable nodes where work can be scheduled as appropriate to deliver resources to microservices that need them. Nodes are logically similar to virtual machines and used by Kubernetes to provide services automatically in response to dynamically changing demand. Administrators no longer manage distinct servers or virtual machines, but rather direct Kubernetes as it manages workloads delivered by pods, and ultimately delivers the GIS services your users need.

Watch the following video for a demonstration of the new administrative experience.

Will customers install ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes themselves?

Yes, you will set up the underlying Kubernetes environment and you control the deployment process by executing a script provided by Esri. The script deploys the containerized software into your environment from a private registry managed by Esri. You manage the configuration of your ArcGIS Enterprise environment based on parameters you specify. You will need to have a Kubernetes cluster environment available that meets certain system requirements. This can run on your own infrastructure on-premises or in the cloud. The container images will be placed into a private container registry, managed by Esri, where the deployment script will access and pull the container images during deployment. The deployment is streamlined and after it is run once, properties are saved to enable silent subsequent deployments.

This deployment option for ArcGIS Enterprise framework is built around Kubernetes as the orchestration platform. The supported architecture does not enable you to perform selective installation of individual container images outside of the deploy and upgrade process. ArcGIS Enterprise uses Kubernetes and the underlying container engine to automatically download and schedule the appropriate containers based on the services that are published to the system.

How will updates work with ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes?

Updates to major new releases of ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes will be on the same release schedule as Windows and Linux. The choice of when to upgrade to new versions will be up to each individual customer and administrator. The ArcGIS Enterprise release schedule remains unified so that customers can expect to see releases for the Windows, Linux, and now Kubernetes deployment options at around the same times. However, the product lifecycle and support timeframes for the Kubernetes deployment option will be different and require faster upgrades to stay current. This recognizes the speed with which Kubernetes is updated and ensures Esri continues to provide effective support for the Kubernetes deployment option. We encourage customers using Kubernetes to stay up to date with ArcGIS Enterprise updates as we work hard to achieve full parity among capabilities available on Windows and Linux.

The product lifecycle for the Windows and Linux deployment options will remain as-is.

Will customers of ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes be able to download whatever containers they want?

No. ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes is delivered as a unified system that consists of a number of interdependent containers that will be run and orchestrated on top of the Kubernetes platform, but are not meant to be run as a set of individual containers that administrators download and deploy individually.
Esri will provide a deployment script that customers run against a container registry to obtain the container images needed for the installation or upgrade. An administrator would not necessarily know which containers are needed for each of these events. Therefore, they need to have secure access to the container images, but they will not be picking and choosing which containers (or services) they want to update. The installation and upgrade processes themselves are highly automated.

Is ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes replacing the Windows or Linux deployment options?

No. While we have this new option for ArcGIS Enterprise, this will not replace the current Enterprise deployment methods of Windows and Linux, nor are there any plans to deprecate or remove those supported operating systems. All three deployment options will be available, fully supported, and will benefit from product updates in the future. Customers will retain full control over whether they choose to use the Kubernetes deployment option. The Kubernetes deployment option provides similar GIS functionality – not more – to what is available via the Windows or Linux options. In fact, at launch we have had to defer certain GIS functionality that is currently available in Windows and Linux and will be working hard to achieve full parity. Read What is ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes for more information.

Organizations with larger and more complex deployments should benefit from the IT administrative enhancements with ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes, but it will be entirely up to each customer if and when they adopt this offering.

What will be required to use ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes?

Customers interested in using ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes need to have an Enterprise Agreement with Esri. Customers must also have an established Kubernetes cluster running on one of the three supported environments: AWS Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), Microsoft Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), or Red Hat OpenShift. The environment must meet our system requirements. Just like Windows or Linux, the ability to administer and manage the environment is also necessary and therefore we want to have an individual conversation with ArcGIS Enterprise customers that are interested in exploring or adopting the Kubernetes deployment option. Please talk with your Esri representative if this applies to you.

What will be containerized within the initial release of ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes, and what will be coming with future iterations?

Our initial release includes most of the GIS functionality and administrative workflows you are familiar with after deploying ArcGIS Enterprise. However, we have deferred some capabilities so that we can bring this new technology to our customers. Over time we will be adding more capabilities to reach parity with the capabilities of the Windows and Linux deployment options. Please see more information about what is included and deferred in the 10.9 release in the documentation topic: What is ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes.

How can my team prepare for the new Kubernetes deployment option for ArcGIS Enterprise?

The major providers of managed Kubernetes offerings – such as AWS and Microsoft Azure – provide many opportunities to learn about Kubernetes and the concepts of microservices and containerization. There are also many resources available on the website and from various training providers.

When will ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes be available?

ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes is already available to eligible customers, with the ArcGIS 2021 release that includes ArcGIS Enterprise 10.9. [Update: With the 11.0 release in September 2022, the software is available to all customers.]

Where can I learn more about the new Kubernetes deployment option for ArcGIS Enterprise?

The major providers of managed Kubernetes offerings – like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud – can connect you to training resources that we encourage you to take a look at to get an understanding of the concept of containerization and Kubernetes itself. There are also many resources available on the website and from third-party training providers. Please talk with your Esri representative for more ideas on becoming familiar with Kubernetes and the new deployment option for ArcGIS Enterprise.

About the author

Trevor Seaton is a Senior Principal Product Manager focusing on ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes. His work emphasizes the delivery of cloud-native GIS software that excels in scalability, performance, and reliability. Trevor has led strategic initiatives in the sectors of software, aerospace, and philanthropy prior to joining Esri in 2019. He holds an MBA from the University of Washington and is pursuing a PhD in information systems at Claremont Graduate University. You can reach Trevor at


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