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Understand the relationship between ArcGIS Enterprise and ArcGIS Online

ArcGIS Enterprise and organizational subscriptions to ArcGIS Online are complementary implementations of Web GIS, designed to work together. They provide similar functionality, such as a portal website with Map and Scene Viewer, a content repository, and the same API for developers. However, there are several key differences.

ArcGIS Enterprise is a comprehensive geographic information system (GIS) that runs on your infrastructure. This infrastructure can be owned and operated directly by you or, optionally, infrastructure managed by other cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. You use ArcGIS Enterprise to create, use, and share maps and apps within your enterprise, and perform advanced analysis using server licensing roles. Esri products, from field and office apps to business intelligence solutions, easily integrate with your ArcGIS Enterprise portal.

ArcGIS Online is a focused mapping and location intelligence platform that runs on Esri-managed cloud infrastructure in a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. In other words, the compute and data storage resources, the website, and every other aspect of the system is hosted by Esri in a highly scalable environment. You use ArcGIS Online to create, use, and share maps and apps with your organization and the public.

The ArcGIS Enterprise portal is also the entry point for using ArcGIS Pro to publish certain types of GIS services to your ArcGIS Server sites, such as 3D scene layers.

Organizations implement ArcGIS Enterprise for any of several reasons:

  • They seek advanced analytical capabilities and distributed data processing power.
  • They require full control over the hardware running the portal.
  • They require service publishing from the website, and enterprise data is prohibited from being physically stored off-premises.
  • Computers in the organization are not connected to the Internet or have an unreliable Internet connection.
  • They want to use functionality available only with Portal for ArcGIS and ArcGIS Pro, such as publishing their own 3D scene layers.

Many ArcGIS platform customers use both ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise to achieve a comprehensive and robust system for managing all their geospatial assets. In this way, they can completely support both internal and external stakeholders and workflows in a secure, scalable, and flexible environment.


For additional implementation considerations and best practices, see Architecting the ArcGIS Platform: Best Practices.