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Inside an ArcGIS Server site

An ArcGIS Server site consists of several components that can optionally be distributed across multiple machines to increase computing power. Each component in the site plays a specific role in the process of managing the resources that are allocated to a set of services.

The components of an ArcGIS Server site can be summarized as follows:

  • Web server—Hosts web applications and provides optional security and load balancing benefits to ArcGIS Server.
  • Web Adaptor—Integrates ArcGIS Server with your enterprise web server, forwarding incoming requests to your various ArcGIS Server machines.
  • ArcGIS Server—Does the work to satisfy requests issued to the GIS web services. ArcGIS Server can draw maps, run tools, serve imagery, synchronize databases, project geometry, search for data, and perform many other operations offered by ArcGIS.

site architecture

This topic summarizes each of the components and provides links to additional information to help you effectively administer your ArcGIS Server site.

The web server

The web server hosts web applications and provides optional security and load balancing benefits to the ArcGIS Server site. ArcGIS Server is compatible with many popular web servers, including Internet Information Services (IIS), WebSphere, and WebLogic.

The ArcGIS Server component exposes your services through HTTP without requiring you to have a separate, dedicated web server such as IIS. However, if you want to harness some of the native security benefits of the web server (such as authentication options), or if you want to host web applications, you can choose to include a web server in your deployment.

ArcGIS Web Adaptor

ArcGIS Web Adaptor is fundamentally a web application that forwards requests from your web server to your ArcGIS Server. ArcGIS Web Adaptor keeps track of which machines have been added and removed from your site and forwards traffic to them appropriately. Using ArcGIS Web Adaptor allows you to set your own name for your site, instead of using the default site name arcgis. ArcGIS Web Adaptor also allows you to leverage the native capabilities of your web server for security, and can block outside connections to ArcGIS Server Manager and the ArcGIS Server Administrator Directory.

When a web service request is received, ArcGIS Web Adaptor forwards the request to one of the ArcGIS Server machines. If ArcGIS Web Adaptor determines a ArcGIS Server machine is unavailable, it stops forwarding requests to that server.

Other web gateway options

The Web Adaptor is not the only way to configure a web gateway, or entry point, to your site. Other web gateway technologies can include physical HTTP load balancer and network router devices, or third-party software designed for load balancing purposes. In the Amazon EC2 environment, the Amazon Elastic Load Balancer (ELB) can act as a web gateway. If you already have existing technology in your organization that plays the role of a web gateway, it can be adapted to work with ArcGIS Server under most circumstances.

Although the web gateway and web server often work together, the presence of a web gateway in the deployment does not necessitate the presence of a web server. For example, if your web gateway is a physical router, it can send requests directly to the ArcGIS Server without needing a web server.

ArcGIS Server

Incoming web service requests for maps, address coordinates, geoprocessing jobs, and so on, are each assigned to an available ArcGIS Server machine within the site. That ArcGIS Server then does the work of drawing the map, finding the address coordinate, running the geoprocessing tool, and so on, and returns the result to the client. Essentially, ArcGIS Server machines are the work centers of your site.

You may find it necessary to configure your ArcGIS Server site to use multiple ArcGIS Server machines to protect against downtime if one of your machines becomes unavailable. When a machine goes offline (whether planned or unplanned), the Web Adaptor can continue to distribute incoming requests to the remaining ArcGIS Server machines in the site.

The above components of an ArcGIS Server site can reside on the same physical machine for development and testing purposes, or for supporting small deployments. See Deployment scenarios to learn about recommended architectures for small and large sites.

The configuration store

An ArcGIS Server site has a special folder designated as the configuration store, which contains all the properties of the site and its services. You specify the location for the configuration store when you create the site. In a multiple-machine site, the ArcGIS Server machines access the configuration store through a shared network directory. In a site with multiple ArcGIS Server machines, it's recommended that you keep the configuration store on its own fault-tolerant file server (separate from the ArcGIS Server machines).

Server directories

A server directory represents a physical directory on the network that is specially designated for an ArcGIS Server site to store and write certain kinds of information. There are server directories for storing caches, output, jobs, system files, uploads, input data, KML, and indexes. A set of server directories is created for you at a location you specify when you create the site. In a multiple-machine site, this needs to be a shared network directory.

For detailed descriptions of each server directory, see the topic About server directories.

Processes started by ArcGIS Server

You can expect to see the following operating system processes on any ArcGIS Server machine that is started and participating in a site.

  • One ArcGISServer.exe process
  • One ArcSOC.exe process for each running service instance. An exception is geoprocessing services, which have two ArcSOC.exe processes per running instance.
  • One rmid.exe process
  • Two javaw.exe processes. These provide basic application server functionality and the ability to host web services.
  • Two conhost.exe processes and one cmd.exe process. These are supplementary processes started by Windows to provide console services to ArcGIS Server processes.

You can tell that a javaw.exe process is associated with ArcGIS Server by looking at the Command Line column in Windows Task Manager. If the path includes the ArcGIS installation directory, you know it's a process associated with ArcGIS Server. You can derive further information about each process by examining its full command.

The Windows service ArcGIS Server represents ArcGIS Server itself. Stopping this service effectively stops the ArcGIS Server on the machine and shuts down any running GIS service instances.