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What is ArcSDE?

What is ArcSDE?

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ArcSDE is ESRI's technology for accessing and managing geospatial data within relational databases. ArcSDE technology supports reading and writing of multiple standards including (among other data storage options) Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC), standards for simple features; the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard for spatial types; and the Oracle Spatial format.

ArcSDE is unique in its support of the following capabilities:

NOTE: This applies only to ArcSDE geodatabases licensed through ArcGIS Server Enterprise.

When do you need ArcSDE?

When you need a multiuser geodatabase that can be edited and used simultaneously by many users, the ArcSDE geodatabase provides the solution. It adds the ability to manage both a shared, multiuser geodatabase and a number of critical version-based GIS workflows. The ability to leverage an organization's enterprise relational databases is a key advantage of the ArcSDE geodatabase.

ArcSDE also supports users who need to manage long transactions and version-based workflows, for example, to manage historical archives, distributed editing, and federated replicas across many DBMS architectures as well as to support multiuser editing scenarios.

ArcSDE geodatabases work with a variety of DBMS storage models (IBM DB2, IBM Informix, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and PostgreSQL). ArcSDE geodatabases are used in a wide range of workgroups, departments, and enterprise settings. They take full advantage of their underlying DBMS architecture to support the following:

Through many large geodatabase implementations, it has been found that DBMSs are efficient at moving the type of large binary objects required for GIS data in and out of tables. In addition, GIS database sizes and the number of supported users can be much larger when using ArcSDE.

How is ArcSDE technology included in ArcGIS?

In the past, ArcSDE was sold as a separate ESRI product. Beginning with ArcGIS 9.2, ArcSDE technology is still included in ArcGIS; however, it is no longer a separate product. Instead, ArcSDE technology has been integrated into both the ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Desktop products.

ArcSDE geodatabases readily scale from personal, single-user geodatabases, through workgroup geodatabases, up to extremely large enterprise geodatabases.

There are three levels for accessing and using ArcSDE technology in ArcGIS. Geodatabase capabilities are available in the following ESRI software:

ArcSDE technology included with ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Engine, and ArcGIS Server Workgroup

Beginning at ArcGIS 9.2, ArcEditor, ArcInfo, and ArcGIS Server Workgroup include the Microsoft SQL Server Express database. ArcGIS Desktop software includes ArcSDE capabilities to support ArcSDE geodatabases. Beginning with ArcGIS 9.3, ArcGIS Engine includes the Microsoft SQL Server Express database.

Within ArcEditor and ArcInfo, the ArcCatalog application provides the ability to fully administer and manage ArcSDE geodatabases stored in SQL Server Express. This provides full ArcSDE geodatabase capabilities for a few users. You set up and manage these ArcSDE geodatabases within ArcCatalog. No extra software or database administration expertise is required.

When using ArcGIS Engine, administration and use of the ArcSDE geodatabases stored in SQL Server Express are done through ArcObjects.

ArcSDE technology included with ArcGIS Server Enterprise

This is the traditional ArcSDE technology that runs on Oracle, SQL Server, IBM DB2, IBM Informix, and (beginning with ArcGIS 9.3) PostgreSQL. It can scale to databases of any size and number of users, running on computers of any size and configuration. Users provide their own DBMS license for this level of ArcSDE use.* The DBMS is typically administered and managed by a database administrator (DBA).

The following table further compares the types of ArcSDE geodatabases:

Feature SQL Server Express Enterprise DBMS
Underlying database SQL Server Express DB2, Informix, Oracle, PostgreSQL, or SQL Server
Type of client-to-database connection Direct connect Direct connect or ArcSDE application server (ArcSDE service)
Database administration ArcCatalog or ArcObjects ArcSDE Administration Commands, DBMS administration software, and ArcCatalog
CPU limit 1 Licensed per CPU or core
Backup/Recovery model Simple Dependent on DBMS
User able to alter configuration No Yes
Type of user/group logins Operating system (Windows) authenticated DBMS or operating system authenticated
Language/Localization Uses same code page as the server Customizable; options dependent on DBMS
XML column support Yes (beginning with 9.3) Yes
Versioned editing support Yes Yes
Archiving support Yes Yes
Replication support Yes Yes
User-defined views No Yes

*Exception: The PostgreSQL DBMS is included with ArcSDE for PostgreSQL.

See Also

  • An overview of ArcSDE geodatabase administration