Our Work: GIS Cloud Infrastructure

The client needed maps to support its permitting process and asked Resource Data to build a geographic information system (GIS).

However, the client didn’t own computing equipment at the time—so they needed us to also provide the system’s infrastructure and host the GIS.

The Solution

We designed, built, and oversaw the growth of a GIS infrastructure that began as 2 servers and later expanded to 15.

To support our client’s GIS needs, the infrastructure had to

  • Be highly reliable
  • Be able to grow very quickly
  • Support several terabytes of data
  • Support a team of GIS developers working on tight deadlines
  • Be totally transportable

To meet these requirements, we selected several well-understood technologies: VMware vSphere backed by Dell Compellent storage, Microsoft Windows Server, Active Directory, and a Palo Alto security appliance.

For transportability, we designed the system to be self-contained. The system included

  • Active Directory domain
  • File server
  • Terminal server
  • SQL Servers
  • ArcGIS Servers
  • Servers for each stage of the software development process, from development to production

This self-contained, virtualized cloud elegantly handled several challenging software rebuilds and large influxes of data.

Our Approach

We immediately grasped that volatility would characterize the project. The needs of the business would require quick, major changes to the GIS. And for the system to succeed, the infrastructure had to be equally flexible, portable, and reliable.

Those characteristics led us to set the following defining principles for the infrastructure:

  • Data and services should stay tightly contained.
  • Virtual machines should be used, so that the whole system could be picked up and transported on short notice.
  • The underlying infrastructure should be solidly built from industry-leading technology.

Throughout the project, these 3 principles remained valid despite the GIS being redesigned and expanded to meet our client’s continuing needs.