ArcGIS web services organize spatial data into functional GIS resources to run on a web server. In this way, services allow many users to simultaneously access and explore data hosted on central server machines and to include this data in their GIS products on the web and on mobile devices. All data you use in ArcGIS Enterprise is made available by web services.
A web service is not a map or layer, and it often does not serve as the end product for users. Instead, client apps query the service to receive information they can use in maps and other GIS products. A variety of geospatial services are available, representing different types of content such as maps, scenes, geoprocessing tools, geodatabases, and imagery.
Web services are run on ArcGIS Server sites and are often published to the sites from ArcGIS Pro or ArcMap. Services in ArcGIS Server receive queries from clients and return responses based on their data and configurations. The ArcGIS Enterprise portal, ArcGIS Online, and a wide range of Esri apps and developer tools are designed to use ArcGIS Server services, as are many third-party products.
Once a service has been published to your ArcGIS Server site from ArcGIS Pro or ArcMap, you can manage the service—secure or share it, change its settings, troubleshoot, and improve its performance. Service management can be done in the ArcGIS Server Manager app and the ArcGIS Server Administrator Directory.
This section of the ArcGIS Server help explains the various services available and provides workflows and recommendations for managing the services in your ArcGIS Server site. Specific workflow steps for publishing services can be found in the ArcGIS Pro documentation and the ArcGIS Desktop documentation that covers ArcMap.
Services and the ArcGIS Enterprise portal
The central relationship in ArcGIS Enterprise is between ArcGIS Server sites and a central ArcGIS Enterprise portal, which provides a user-friendly and collaborative hub for GIS content.
ArcGIS Server sites can be federated with a portal. The process of federation integrates a server with the portal; all services published to a federated server are automatically shared with the portal. Many workflows, such as web maps shared from ArcGIS Pro, rely on a federated server to power the content accessed from the portal.
Integrate your server with ArcGIS Enterprise
Learn more about how services and portal layers are connected
Many users have custom or third-party client apps to make use of ArcGIS Server services in their end products; others publish services simply to make them available to their customers or the public. These organizations sometimes deploy ArcGIS Server in a stand-alone configuration, without federating the server site with a portal.
ArcGIS Server offers complete control over your services with several security and authentication options. Services you publish can be restricted so they are only accessible within your secure organization or made available on the internet to users with valid authentication credentials. They can also be made public without authentication, as for a data clearinghouse or open-source repository. Services in a federated server site are secured through the portal.
Services and data sources
Because data is essential to web services, it’s important to consider how and where the data in your services is stored. Many types of data and many types of data stores work with ArcGIS Server. You can register your own data stores with ArcGIS Server so that your services can reference the data in them without copying the data out of the source. ArcGIS Enterprise can also host your data, meaning the data is copied to ArcGIS Enterprise and is maintained by the system.
When you publish a service from ArcGIS Pro or ArcMap, you can use registered data in a user-managed store or copy the data into a store managed by ArcGIS Enterprise. In a user-managed data store, the database administrator is responsible for maintaining the data and organizing it for effective use. Services using ArcGIS-managed data are called hosted services; their data can be stored in the ArcGIS Server site or in ArcGIS Data Store, depending how they were published.
The Manage Data section of this help is a complete guide to data sources in ArcGIS Server.
Types of services
ArcGIS Server can host many types of web services, as well as several service extensions and capabilities. The type of data you want to make available to others and what you want people to do with that data determine the type of service you publish.
See the full list of service types supported in ArcGIS Server
Most service types can only be published to ArcGIS Server sites licensed with the GIS Server role. Image services can only be published to ArcGIS Image Server sites, and some service types, such as maritime services, require licensed server extensions.
The process of caching produces a static GIS output, divided into small units called tiles. Cached content reduces the amount of time and machine effort to display an output because the cached item was drawn and frozen during cache creation. Rather than drawing each feature of a map layer or each pixel of an image layer, the server displays the predrawn cache tiles.
Caches are often drawn at multiple scales to allow zooming and are specified to have a certain extent. When you use a cached service, you cannot dynamically draw and update the service in exchange for the benefit of faster performance.
There are four primary types of cached outputs in ArcGIS: map caches, image or raster caches, elevation and terrain caches, and vector tile caches. Each of these can be hosted as cached services in ArcGIS Server.
ArcGIS Server REST API
Services and administrative controls in ArcGIS Server can be accessed by a RESTful API. REST (Representational State Transfer) is an architectural style for web services that enforces transparency, security, and interoperability. The structure and simplicity of the REST API allows a wide range of client apps to query ArcGIS Server services.
ArcGIS Server includes two REST API directories. The ArcGIS Server Services Directory provides access to the services in your site and is intended for users and publishers. The ArcGIS Server Administrator Directory includes administrative operations and resources related to all aspects of the server site, including service management, and should only be accessible to trusted site administrators.
With appropriate credentials, you can make programmatic requests to either directory or access them directly in a web browser. A typical query to access a map service on an ArcGIS Server site may look like the following:
Make a query on a U.S. state map for ''Iowa"
ArcGIS Server Manager
Many of the common administrative and service management tasks exposed by the ArcGIS Server Administrator Directory are available in the ArcGIS Server Manager app, accessed with the URL format https://gisserver.domain.com/server/manager or https://gisserver.domain.com:6443/arcgis/manager.
The app includes a complete Service Editor, where publishers and administrators can view and modify the settings and configurations of the services in a site. For example, you can set map service capabilities such as OGC formats to be available or unavailable, decrease the time-out values for a service, or allow a popular service to use more service processes in its dedicated instance pool. The options available in the Service Editor vary by service type and configuration.
Learn more about editing services
In Server Manager, you can also register data sources with the server site, create or change service folders, and control sharing settings. Service definition files can be published to the site from Server Manager, and you can stop, start, or delete services from the app.