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An overview of ArcSDE geodatabase administration

Release 9.3
Last modified December 3, 2010
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Note: This topic was updated for 9.3.1.

ArcSDE geodatabases allow you to use other ESRI products, such as ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Server, and ArcIMS, as well as custom applications to store, use, and manage all your GIS data in one of the following database management systems (DBMS): IBM DB2, IBM Informix, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, or PostgreSQL.

ArcSDE geodatabases allow you to store your data in a central database and support the concurrent multiuser editing necessary for most GIS data management workflows.

The needs at your site determine what type of ArcSDE geodatabase you use. The main differences between the types of ArcSDE geodatabases are database size and the number of connections that can be made to each. Because of this, each type of ArcSDE geodatabase is suitable for different sizes of organizations.

As your user base grows, so too can your geodatabase. For instance, you might start by storing your data in two or three ArcSDE geodatabases in SQL Server Express. When you need to store more than 4 GB of data, you could move your data to an ArcSDE geodatabase licensed under ArcGIS Server Enterprise.

Scaling your geodatabase to fit your organization's needs is just one of the tasks you would perform as the administrator of an ArcSDE geodatabase. Anytime you have multiple people simultaneously working with data in any database—be it a database of medical records, a work order management database, or a geodatabase—there are a number of administrative tasks that need to be performed to ensure the database works properly.

Some general concepts apply to the administration of all types of geodatabases, but often, how you administer your geodatabase depends on the type of DBMS you are using. In this portion of the help system, overview topics cover the basic topics, and database-specific information is provided where appropriate.

Geodatabases created with ArcSDE for SQL Server Express use default configuration settings and are accessed through the ArcCatalog user interface. Therefore, the amount of administration for these types of geodatabases is minimal. For this reason, many of the topics in the "Configuring an ArcSDE geodatabase" book of the help system only apply to ArcSDE geodatabases licensed through ArcGIS Server Enterprise. A note is placed at the beginning of topics to help clarify which ones apply strictly to these geodatabases.

NOTE: ArcSDE geodatabases licensed through ArcGIS Engine also use default configuration settings but are accessed using the ArcObject DataServerManager interface. Because they are accessed through ArcObjects, consult the ArcObjects developer help on the Resource Center for information on administering these geodatabases.

Key administrative tasks

Key tasks for the administration of an ArcSDE geodatabase include

GIS administrators might load data into the geodatabase or be involved in geodatabase replication. However, since these tasks can be performed by other staff members, such as data owners or editors, they are addressed in other sections of this help system. Populating the geodatabase with data and the proper settings to do this are covered in the "Creating a geodatabase" and "Adding datasets and other geodatabase elements" books inside the "Building geodatabases" book in this help system. See An overview of adding datasets to the geodatabase in the "Adding datasets and other geodatabase elements" section of the help to get you started.

Geodatabase replication is discussed in the "Managing distributed data" book inside the "Data management workflows, transactions, and versioning" book in this help system. See Replicas and geodatabases in the "Data management workflows, transactions, and versioning" section of the help for an introduction.

Who does what

When using ArcSDE geodatabases licensed through ArcGIS Server Enterprise, the database administrator (DBA), who manages the DBMS, and the GIS administrator, who manages the GIS, often are not the same person. If such is the case at your organization, it is important that the two individuals (or groups of individuals) coordinate their tasks.

The following is a list of some geodatabase management tasks and the corresponding staff person with whom responsibility for that task typically resides.

Task Staff
Management of physical database structures (data files, tables, and indexes) DBA
Management of logical database constructs (data models, rules, subtypes, networks, locators, and versions) GIS administrator
Management of users and permissions
  • Database permissions
  • Object permissions
DBA (database permissions)
Data owner (object permissions)
Database backup and recovery DBA
Performance tuning
  • Of the database
  • Of workflows (how users utilize the GIS)
DBA (database)
GIS administrator (workflows)
Data distribution (replication/synchronization) GIS administrator
Geodatabase compression and updating statistics GIS administrator

Many of these tasks also require the DBA and GIS administrator to coordinate with other IT staff, for example, in the following situations:

For ArcSDE for SQL Server Express, administration is incorporated into ArcGIS Desktop or ArcGIS Engine Runtime and no outside database administration is performed; therefore, the GIS administrator for the specific database server will likely perform all management tasks listed in the preceding table.

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