ArcGIS Online is Esri’s open cloud platform for GIS organizations to web-enable their maps and related geographic information for sharing with their users. ArcGIS Online includes tools for geospatial content management, simple web mapping, and ultimately a full GIS running in a hosted cloud platform provided by ArcGIS. This technology includes some online content—hosted basemaps for web, mobile, desktop, and server deployment. It enables users to upload and share their datasets (shapefiles, spreadsheets, map packages, web maps); provides a common catalog for referencing online maps and geoservices; and has tools for organizing shared content into groups for both secure management and organizational purposes. Other system capabilities include being able to easily create maps from your own non-GIS data.
ArcGIS Online is open and supports many data and service types (e.g., WMS, KML, GPX, CSV, and shapefiles). Users can easily create web maps using browser and desktop-based clients. When services are created, they are automatically registered in the online catalog for users to easily discover, mashup, and build into web maps. These services can be accessed from browsers, mobile devices, web applications, and ArcGIS for Desktop clients. ArcGIS Online also supports a series of open APIs for both the services as well as for the platform itself.
This cloud-based component is a major milestone in the evolution of ArcGIS. It provides a hosted platform for rapidly extending and scaling user capabilities in content, number of transactions (maps), and number of users. It is also designed to work directly with an organization’s GIS desktop and server enterprise capabilities to extend both the reach and capacity of their GIS.
ArcGIS Online is part of a larger system. It is designed to take advantage of the unique capabilities of the desktop, server, and mobile platforms. These components are engineered to operate both individually as well as part of an integrated system across the web. Esri plans to systematically expand the capabilities of ArcGIS Online to keep pace with the enhanced capabilities being added to ArcGIS on the desktop, mobile, and server.