County of San Diego Migrates to ArcGIS Portal

Pursuing open data, transparency, and collaboration in the GIS world is a rather large undertaking technology-wise. If you don’t get ahead, the risk of falling behind is too great. The primary intent of the upgrade from ArcGIS 10.2.2 to ArcGIS Enterprise was the potential for better regional collaboration and the sharing of hosted GIS data via Portal-to-Portal collaboration groups. This included the desire to closely integrate with one of the County’s primary data providers, SanGIS. The San Diego Geographic Information Source (SanGIS) is a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) of the City of San Diego and the County of San Diego responsible for maintaining a regional geographic information system (GIS) land base and data warehouse (SanGIS, 2020). To enable a close linkage, the County wanted the ability to interface its on-premise GIS data with an enterprise environment hosted by SanGIS. For this, there was no better solution than ArcGIS Enterprise to get the job done.

Enterprise GIS Working Together

The new enterprise environment for GIS was implemented by the County of San Diego’s IT vendor, Perspecta, in partnership with Quartic Solutions. The system was designed with high availability, security, and ease of access as essential features to ensure county operations are available 24/7. “The best system is one I can turn my back on,” explains the project's application architect. All network and hardware components need failover and redundancy to build a trustworthy system.

This also required ensuring these components could integrate properly with the ArcGIS Enterprise platform. Quartic worked closely with the Perspecta team to ensure that the design leveraged all of the powerful features of the ArcGIS platform regarding high availability, data collaboration, and single-sign-on (SSO) functionality. The next section details the design and technical considerations required to achieve these three goals.

Building for High Availability

Constructing a multi-machine ArcGIS Enterprise required that the county’s third-party load balancer utilize application health checks to monitor the uptime of Portal for ArcGIS and ArcGIS for Server. By default, ArcGIS Enterprise provides endpoints for detecting an outage of one or more ArcGIS components. Without this feature, a third-party load balancer may detect that a server is up without validating the health of ArcGIS. It was an essential feature that ensured that ArcGIS Enterprise could continue functioning during a partial outage.

An equally important feature was providing users with a seamless single-sign-on (SSO) experience that leveraged the County’s existing AD Federation Services implementation. The portal for ArcGIS offered a straightforward integration with ADFS, and minimal configuration was required. This functionality ensured that all County users could access the Portal from anywhere without needing to type a password each time.

The county's ability to connect to portal organizations outside its agency was crucial. Therefore, extra care and attention were put into ensuring the portal could function internally and externally to its firewall. This also allowed users to migrate their content from ArcGIS Online to Portal using Esri’s ArcGIS Online Assistant, allowing users to search for and copy content from AGO to Portal. This tool was essential for streamlining their transition from AGO to Portal.

“We needed a solution that would allow us easy and secure access to our enterprise environment combined with the capability of sharing our data across agencies," - GIS Manager, County of San Diego

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