ArcGIS Enterprise on AWS

ArcGIS Enterprise on AWS

Have you seen all those clever and funny AWS commercials? For the normal GIS person adding yet another platform to learn and use can be a bit daunting. Don’t fret, we are not abandoning you, to put your mind at ease yes, we can handle that for you BUT for those of you who are D.I.Y. Geogeeks; below are some tips.

A Look Forward: No Predictions, Only Productivity

Don't fall into the trap of thinking you know anything about the future. Sure, There's lots of neat confucus-iy quotes about knowing the future from learning about the past, or whatever. I've succumbed to the temptation myself to guess what will happen in the next 5 years. Here's the real deal. You can only control the "now".  Even then just a little tiny corner of your world. The future is ever changing,  take a lesson from Yoda.

Here at Cloudpoint, we are developing Principals to work by and not procedures or policies. We have no employee handbook or workplace guidelines. Even if we did it would be filled with bullet-point list of adages. For Example:

  • Be Professional.
  • Work Hard & Be Nice To People.
  • Are you Productive or Just Being busy?
  • Make it Better. 
  • Why are you here?
  • When the door is shut, don't bother me.
  • Never Stop asking Questions.

When you feel like you can (or try to) predict the future, your pride gets in the way of actually making it happen. Somewhere inside you become a spectator watching life rather than a participant in it: "I knew this was going to happen!" Not helpful. A bit of personal humility can go a long way when you are assisting people with a new technology. Rather, when you set attainable goals you set a standard for yourself, a personal guideline. American author Mark Batterson once said (paraphrased): 'Goals are Just Dreams with Timelines' Well Said, Everybody needs dreams. 

This is what 2015 looks like for us. These are our genericized Goals: 

  1. Increase Benefits to Team Members
  2. Expand our Territory
  3. Hire
  4. 7+ Speaking Engagements
  5. Learn New Software
  6. Read 13+ Books
  7. Freely Distribute Several Useful tools
  8. Centralize Cloud Offerings 

There are others that I'm not willing to share, but this is most of the list from our first 2015 staff meeting. Some of them are personal, some are corporate all are real and attainable. 

Don't let the lure of trying to predict the future fill you with apathy and pride.
What are your goals? 

Doing Small Business using 'The Internet of Things'

If you haven't caught-up yet, The Cloud is over. 

What we expect these days is everything syncing, everything secureeverything available all the time. And when I say all the time, I mean At Any Second. Truly. 

It's not just us in tech that expect this. It's all of us together. The 1st World public at large. When we see commercials depicting pausing a movie in one room and moving to another to watch the rest, all without breaking stride or spilling the popcorn. That sets an expectation. Those professionals in Geospatial are used to this. Google has been setting public expectation for our industry for over 10 years. 

So... we at Cloudpoint are purveyors of these expectations as well as consumers. Here's what we use to do what we do as cost-effectively and efficiently as possible. (in order of adoption) 

Carbonite - Jon has been using Carbonite faithfully since his county engineer days. It's cloud-based mirroring backup system that has paid for itself ($70 year) time and time again in possible lost hours (See the DropBox note below). The first initial back-up takes a day or two but it's worth it in the end. 

QuickBooks Online - Cloudpoint is full of geospatial and engineering professionals, not MBAs and CPAs. QuickBooks Online helps us keep all of our finances in one place and lets us know what is important with it's canned reports and monthly metrics. At tax time you can give the keys to your accountant and everything is there for him to comb through. 

DropBox - Who isn't using dropbox.... anyone? Buehler? This is our workflow. We have a paid professional account that we all share. Most of our customers have a free version (or we create one for them) and then we "share" our project folder with that user. So when I RDP onto the Rock Falls server that .dbf of addresses is already sitting there. **One point of Note: while using ArcMap, it's best to pause the syncing, GIS files like to get corrupted if they're saving and syncing at the same time. 

AWS - In early 2012, Jon purchased ArcGIS Server and Micah (as a sub-contractor then) helped him put it onto an Amazon EC2 Server. Our relationship with Amazon Web Services was solidified. Now we use it as back-up, Image hosting license management and that machine is a part of our local network. the Up/Down Speeds do vary with they size of server, but that's something you can throttle and even pause.  It's one of our goals to learn and use more of what's available to us as a Service from Amazon. 

SquareSpace - This is a great company. Based out of NY, NY, it's our website hosting company. We pay for the middle-tier package for $16 a month. I spent about a week porting over all of our information to get the site up and running. A few months ago, before our yearly fees were due, I flirted with a few other companies/website services. Eventually, I just cleaned up the cobwebs a bit and the site feels fresh again. Their support is amazing as well. - Part of the Log-Me-In family, is a less robust, easier interface of online web meetings than it's big brother. As a professional organization we are expected to have the capacity for web-based assistance and webinars. You can't say to a customer, "Oh, well, No I can't see your desktop. Is your I.T. guy around?" Also, Be warned of 'free' desktop sharing applications, some have been used maliciously. 

Insightly - Customer management is something we're new to. The huge services like are way too complex and expensive. Insightly helps us all be on the same page with Contacts, Tasks, Projects and due dates. It integrates with G-Mail and Evernote. However, like Quickbooks above, you needs to actually use the tool for it to be useful, Garbage in-Garbage out. 

MerakiSystems Manager- Mobile Device Management. We rent iPads, or as we call them Mobile Data Collection Devices. Cisco purchased Meraki almost  year ago for their network and access point solutions. So they made the System Manager aspect free. I love free. This allows me to track, wipe, manage or lock any device before it leaves the building. The user interface and set-up is a little cumbersome, but did I mention it was free. 

Pertino - Best for last. I contacted this small startup about 9 months ago for a free trial. It's a cloud-based VPN service. Their company has grown in the last year and I'm glad to have been in on the start. I have already detailed the road traveled with this group. I gladly now pay for a monthly subscription to be able to print to the office printer, RDP to any computer on the network, directly share files, and see services (like an ArcGIS license manager) as if that computer was sitting next to me. Safe and Secure. 

Well That's it! Most of what Cloudpoint uses to fully channel the 'Internet of Things' . While certainly not an exhaustive list, (of course email, texting & the like) but fairly complete. I hope this helps someone who is looking to filter out the noise and just understand what everything is for. As I'm sure this list will grow in the future, I do feel like what I have here is honestly vetted and in practice.