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Common cloud-based image management workflows

There are four common workflows for cloud-based image management and publication:

  • Serve a tile cache
  • Cloud deployment of stand-alone ArcGIS Image Server and ArcGIS Pro
  • Image hosting using ArcGIS Enterprise and ArcGIS Image Server
  • Complete cloud deployment of ArcGIS Enterprise, ArcGIS Image Server, andArcGIS Pro

Serve a tile cache

Where should I locate…

Image Storage

On-premises

Image Management

On-premises

Publication

Cloud (ArcGIS Online)

Note:

This workflow can also be done entirely in the cloud. If you need to scale this workflow for large datasets, an entirely cloud-based workflow will allow you to marshal more resources to generate a cache more quickly.

Tile cache stores images as preprocessed tiles in a defined map projection and at defined scales. It is typically used as basemap imagery in applications. You can also publish an elevation surface as a tile cache to use in 3D scenes. The disadvantage is that, due to preprocessing, some of the image details and metadata are lost.

Many organizations have a collection of imagery they need to turn into a background map that users can access using ArcGIS Online. In this scenario, you don’t need to have your own server—you’ll manage your imagery in ArcGIS Pro, cache the data, and then upload it to ArcGIS Online to serve the tile cache.

Most of this workflow is done locally:

  1. Store your imagery in your local file system.
  2. Create and manage mosaic datasets using ArcGIS Pro.
  3. Review your data and do quality assurance locally.
  4. Generate a tile cache in ArcGIS Pro and package it as a TPKX.

Once you’ve created your TPKX, you can upload and publish it to ArcGIS Online for approximately 1.2 credits per GB per month.

Note:

You can also serve a tile cache using ArcGIS Enterprise. Once you’ve processed your imagery using ArcGIS Pro or ArcGIS Image Server, you can publish the final product to your ArcGIS Enterprise portal as a tile cache, similar to how you would publish dynamic image services. This can be done either on-premises or in the cloud.

Advantages

This option is simple, inexpensive, and doesn’t require having a server or storing your data in the cloud.

Disadvantages

There are a few disadvantages—you’ll need to preprocess all the data, and the end user will only have access to a three-band RGB image or elevation data. As a result, tile cache isn’t useful for most types of analysis (with the exception of some deep learning applications). There’s also no option to dynamically mosaic overlapping imagery. For many applications, though, this is a suitable option.

Create and serve a tile cache

Creating a tile cache is simple to do even on large datasets. There are a number of caching tools in ArcGIS Pro to generate, manage, export, and share a tile cache, and serve it to ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise.

A tile cache can also be brought back into ArcGIS Online as a raster, as can a TPKX, which is a packaged version of that tile cache. The custom Raster Tile Cache tools are another option—this includes four simple tools to create, package, publish, and update tile cache.

While a tile cache doesn’t include any metadata about the imagery, you can create a feature service from the mosaic dataset metadata, which you can associate with your tile cache service to make it possible to access basic information. Esri’s World Imagery basemap utilizes this strategy.

More information is available in the Serving Cached Imagery workflow.

Cloud deployment of stand-alone ArcGIS Image Server and ArcGIS Pro 2.4 and later

Where should I locate…

Image Storage

Cloud

Image Management

Cloud (ArcGIS Pro)

Publication

Cloud (ArcGIS Image Server)

For organizations that don’t intend to use all the capabilities of ArcGIS Enterprise, including a portal, it is possible to install and use ArcGIS Pro 2.4 and later and a stand-alone ArcGIS Image Server in the cloud.

In this workflow, you’ll store imagery in the cloud, serve it as a dynamic image service using ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Image Server, and then either access the service directly using the REST URL, or register the service with ArcGIS Online and use ArcGIS Online as the portal for that image service (both the Landsat and Sentinel-2 image services from Esri are managed this way).

Refer to Recommended architecture for more information about implementation.

Advantages

Deployment is simpler than if you install all of ArcGIS Enterprise, and infrastructure costs are lower.

Disadvantages

You won’t have access to the other ArcGIS Image Server capabilities, including image hosting, raster analytics, and ortho mapping, because these require ArcGIS Enterprise. You can only publish to a stand-alone ArcGIS Image Server if it is not federated with ArcGIS Enterprise.

Note:

You can also use the Publish Image Service tool included with MDCS to publish image services to a stand-alone ArcGIS Image Server using ArcGIS Pro 2.3 and later. In addition to publishing image services, it also creates the imagery layers for you in ArcGIS Online, and allows you to define whether you want to use dedicated or shared instances.

Image hosting using ArcGIS Enterprise and ArcGIS Image Server

Where should I locate…

Image Storage

On-premises or cloud

Image Management

On-premises or cloud (ArcGIS Enterprise portal)

Publication

On-premises or cloud (ArcGIS Enterprise portal)

One of the capabilities of ArcGIS Enterprise with ArcGIS Image Server is image hosting, which enables a user to upload imagery to ArcGIS Enterprise and have it served back as a dynamic image service accessible from the web.

This solution can be implemented on-premises or in the cloud. The source imagery can be stored locally, or it can be referenced imagery in the cloud. ArcGIS Enterprise with ArcGIS Image Server can be implemented either on-premises or in the cloud.

Refer to Recommended architecture for more information about implementation.

Advantages

ArcGIS Enterprise image hosting leverages a simple interface to allow anyone in your organization to host imagery using your ArcGIS Enterprise portal. It also allows you to use all the capabilities of ArcGIS Image Server, including raster analytics (for distributed processing and persisting complex data) and ortho mapping.

Disadvantages

ArcGIS Enterprise image hosting is limited to simple mosaic datasets—they’re not appropriate for complicated processing, and you have no control over the mosaic dataset properties. There are also limited options for optimization, and it requires someone in your organization to set up ArcGIS Enterprise. The web interface is more limited than the options in ArcGIS Pro.

Use image hosting

The image hosting capability is part of your ArcGIS Enterprise portal user interface if ArcGIS Image Server has been registered. To use it, you’ll use the following workflow:

  1. Go to the Content pane of your organization’s portal. Click Create > New image layer, which gives you various options.
  2. Select the output you want:
    • Create one imagery layer that is a mosaic of all the input images. This generates a CRF stored in the raster store.
    • Create one imagery layer that contains a collection of all the input images. This creates a mosaic dataset behind the scenes and publishes it as a dynamic image service.
    • Create multiple imagery layers, one for each input image. The separate images are available as separate layers.

You can add both raster datasets and raster products, and define different properties related to required band combinations, orthorectification, and so on.

Once the data has been uploaded to the cloud, it is processed and served back to you as a dynamic image service.

Cloud deployment of ArcGIS Enterprise, ArcGIS Image Server, and ArcGIS Pro

Where should I locate…

Image Storage

Cloud

Image Management

Cloud (ArcGIS Pro)

Publication

Cloud (ArcGIS Enterprise & ArcGIS Image Server)

ArcGIS infrastructure—ArcGIS Enterprise, ArcGIS Image Server, and ArcGIS Pro—can all be installed in the cloud.

In this case, the source data is a registered data store or native cloud storage. You can then use ArcGIS Pro, running in the cloud, to manage your imagery and create mosaic datasets. The imagery can be referenced using a cloud storage connection (ACS) file, a VSI file handler, or raster proxies. It’s recommended to store the mosaic datasets in an enterprise geodatabase (for example, RDS).

Once the infrastructure is set up, this workflow is identical to publishing a tile service or image service using an on-premises deployment of ArcGIS Pro.

Refer to Recommended architecture for more information about implementation.

Advantages

Like image hosting, this approach allows you to use all the capabilities of ArcGIS Image Server, including raster analytics and ortho mapping. You also have the full capabilities of mosaic datasets, and the familiar interface of ArcGIS Pro.

Disadvantages

Disadvantages include requiring an additional machine in the cloud to run ArcGIS Pro and someone in your organization to implement a cloud deployment of ArcGIS Enterprise.

Note:

When publishing imagery using a cloud deployment of ArcGIS, if you choose to publish by reference, the data referenced by ArcGIS Pro must be accessible by the server; if you choose to copy data, it will copy the data to the server, which is not ideal if there’s a lot of data.