"ArcGIS Monitor has given me back [time every week for] monitoring our deployment as a whole, whether that's log files or making sure services are up. It allows me to be proactive rather than reactive, and then allows our platform to continue to accelerate faster and faster."
City of Grimes, Iowa, Monitors Performance of Large Multimachine GIS Deployment with Enterprise-Grade Monitoring Solution
The population of the City of Grimes, Iowa, is increasing at a rate of 2.32 percent annually, with a growth of 87 percent since 2010. To support the booming population, the local government is broadening essential services such as utilities and law enforcement and building infrastructure such as a 22,000-square-foot library and a multisport athletic complex. To keep up with residents’ needs, it was necessary to expand the city government’s enterprise system and procure dependable IT infrastructure to enhance operations and boost productivity.
The City of Grimes has a robust multimachine geographic information system (GIS) deployment, the second largest in the Des Moines metropolitan area. The city deployed ArcGIS Enterprise in 2022, and Greg Jameson, GIS technician for the City of Grimes, wanted detailed metrics to monitor the comprehensive system and ensure it was performing well. The city's previous monitoring solution offered limited insight, and Jameson wanted more data and details to ensure the system was running optimally.
Jameson is responsible for managing the city’s enterprise GIS, including deploying servers, managing licenses, and gathering metrics. He wanted the new solution to make monitoring a simple task. He chose ArcGIS Monitor, an enterprise-grade monitoring solution, to get information about the health and performance of the GIS. ArcGIS Monitor has given Jameson the metrics he needs to get a complete view of the system and deliver reliable services to city staff.
The self-hosted monitoring tool the city used previously delivered limited insight. Jameson explains that although it was helpful to validate that the administration web pages of the GIS servers were up and responding within the last 20 minutes from a web service, it didn’t provide other details on how the enterprise portal was working. Essentially, it only indicated whether a service could receive web traffic. Jameson wanted more insight and capabilities.
“At the end of the day, our city council wants to make sure we're being the best fiscal stewards that we can. And so having some metrics to highlight what is our uptime, how much is being used, how is it cutting down on staff time to find data to do things [is helpful]. And [our previous tool] just doesn't give us any of that,” says Jameson.
The additional insight would also help Jameson know if he was properly publishing services. As the ArcGIS Enterprise deployment was new to the city, he wanted to get data on specific items such as the accuracy of load balancing numbers, maximum instances being used, performance of services, or identifying the core services that might have more end-user demand. With limited time, Jameson wanted more informed metrics delivered to him.
“Because I'm new to ArcGIS Enterprise, I want to [see] if I should select a shared or a dedicated instance? That is so specific, and I don't have that time to go and hunt that [data] down,” he explains. “I only have so much time in the day to validate services or things that are up. So, it was more of a reactive situation for me.”
Greg Jameson, GIS technician for the City of Grimes, wanted detailed metrics to monitor their robust multimachine geographic information system (GIS) deployment.
ArcGIS Monitor has provided deeper insights into the system, which has helped Jameson be more proactive when addressing system issues and delivered reliability to the City of Grimes staff.
The City of Grimes has evolving needs, and the fast-growing multimachine GIS deployment has to be flexible. The current system includes an enterprise portal, a web server, a GIS server, an ArcGIS Data Store, an image server, a single machine test/development ArcGIS Enterprise deployment, a shared MS SQL server instance, and an ArcGIS Monitor server.
Also, around 20–25 people use the internal services daily, which is one-third of the city staff. Jameson notes that since it’s impossible to know what their use cases may be in the future, he wanted a tool that would grow with the city’s needs.
“Initially monitoring and making sure that things were okay, I was trying to check at least once a week to make sure all the services were there. Well, each week I'm adding another service or two,” says Jameson. “So, each week it only extends more and more.”
Through the city’s enterprise agreement with Esri, Jameson had access to the entire ArcGIS technology stack. He was looking for an Esri tool that would provide seamless integration and be affordable. Jameson connected with Esri staff and learned about ArcGIS Monitor, a solution designed to help analyze and optimize the health of an ArcGIS implementation throughout the life cycle of an enterprise GIS.
Jameson liked that the ArcGIS Monitor user experience was designed to be similar to an enterprise portal and could provide more meaningful insights into the GIS system. During deployment, he found the Monitor documentation very helpful, and he worked with a colleague who was also testing and setting up Monitor in his organization. Jameson says they frequently talked to exchange ideas and tips.
Jameson began setup by asking the IT department to provide a server for Monitor with Esri's recommended specifications. He installed the software, built the PostgreSQL database, and began registering components with Monitor. Jameson began receiving data metrics about the GIS system within minutes.
Now, Jameson checks Monitor every morning to see if any errors occurred overnight that need his attention. These alerts are also sent directly to his email inbox via notifications. The IT department has login information as well to view and help address potential system issues.
Since its deployment in February 2023, Monitor has helped deliver reliability to the City of Grimes staff. Jameson says Monitor has given him a snapshot of the entire GIS system and its performance, and he can easily see how all the components are working together. Jameson is primarily looking at CPU, memory allocations, alerts, and status changes for the enterprise GIS and says Monitor has continually proven to be a very beneficial tool.
“Because it is just me as a staff member between managing the training of the staff and launching Esri solutions, Monitor has helped me to free up that time to focus on other things. Monitor is my go-to thing to put up, to engage [with]…because it tells me if there's an issue or a latency,” says Jameson.
Monitor has given Jameson deeper insight into the system, which has helped him be more proactive when addressing GIS system issues. Jameson ensures that the organization’s 90-plus services are properly running and their response times for users are adequate. Jameson can also determine the layers that staff use most often, which helps confirm proper delivery.
For example, Jameson’s golden rule for delivering aerial image cache is under one second. He can better monitor this internal benchmark and current system demand.
When new services are published, they are immediately available to view in Monitor. This has been especially helpful for Jameson since he adds new services weekly, and metrics are gathered automatically. According to Jameson, the metrics give him the core information he needs to make a quick decision.
“That level of automation and connectivity within Monitor is fantastic. I don’t have to do any more maintenance [because] it takes care of itself for me. It’s one less thing for me to update when I build the next thing,” says Jameson.
The metrics also help Jameson understand the new ArcGIS Enterprise system and gain better insight into how the software functions. For example, he can better understand the demand on the system when there is an upgrade by checking the upgrade or patching loads.
The alert notifications sent by Monitor and the custom reports (e.g., Analysis views) that are producible have been a significant advantage for monitoring system health. For example, Jameson created a custom report to check ArcSOC usage. The report will provide details on the load when a new service is deployed. This will help Jameson know when the new services are being used without having to review them layer by layer within the database.
Jameson says the default alerts in Monitor are very helpful, particularly for checking storage space. Monitor allows him to tailor the alerts, including changing the data retention policy to keep at least six months of information. Retaining the data helps Jameson view growth trends in the long term.
Jameson says leadership at the City of Grimes has been very supportive of his work and sees the value of GIS, so he looks forward to expanding GIS capabilities. The goal is to continue to monitor system health to deliver a better experience to staff.
“What is our vision? We want to empower location-based data to anybody. We just want to have every employee have access to GIS at their fingertips as a tool to perform their job more efficiently,” says Jameson. “And additional efficiency will be gained over time as we continue to mature our GIS environment and our city.”