ArcGIS Platform


Storage in a Relational Database Management System

A multiuser geodatabase utilizes a multitier architecture that implements advanced logic and behaviour in the application tier (e.g., ArcGIS software) on top of a storage tier (e.g., relational database management system [RDBMS] software). The responsibility for managing geographic data in a multiuser geodatabase is shared between ArcGIS and the RDBMS software.

A relational database management system provides a straightforward formal structure for storing and managing information in tables. Data storage and retrieval are implemented with simple tables. The multiuser geodatabase utilizes the power of the RDBMS. Certain characteristics of geographic data management, such as disk-based storage, definition of attribute types, query processing, and multiuser transaction processing, are delegated to the RDBMS.

The multiuser geodatabase uses an RDBMS to provide you with

  • Flexibility to store your data in a supported RDBMS of your choice
  • Ability to apply your existing IT knowledge and experience to manage the environment through common RDBMS practices
  • Spatial types to enhance data storage and interoperability

ArcSDE Technology

Prior to ArcGIS 9.2, Esri sold ArcSDE as a core product. At ArcGIS 9.2, ArcSDE is no longer a separate product. It is now ArcSDE technology and integrated into ArcGIS for Desktop and ArcGIS for Server products.

ArcSDE technology serves as the gateway between GIS clients and the RDBMS. It enables you to easily store, access, and manage spatial data within an RDBMS package such as

  • DB2
  • Informix
  • Oracle
  • PostgreSQL
  • SQL Server and SQL Server Express

ArcSDE technology is critical when you need to manage long transactions and versioned-based workflows such as

  • Support for multiuser editing environments
  • Distributed editing
  • Federated replicas managed across many RDBMS architectures
  • Managing historical archives

The responsibility for defining the specific RDBMS schema used to represent geographic data and for application logic is retained in ArcGIS, which provides the behaviour, integrity, and utility of the underlying records.

Geodatabase Application Logic

While the RDBMS manages simple data types and tables and ArcSDE technology enables communication between GIS clients and the RDBMS, additional application logic is required to implement more complex object behaviour and integrity constraints. ArcObjects is an example of application logic that enables the behaviour in a geodatabase. ArcObjects is a library of software components that make up the foundation of ArcGIS.

Spatial Types

A spatial type is an object type that describes and supports spatial data such as points, lines, and polygons. It allows you to create columns capable of storing spatial data such as the location of a landmark, a street, or a parcel of land. A spatial type

  • Provides a spatial index that supports spatial queries, functions, and predicates
  • Is a seamless component of your GIS data
  • Provides the flexibility that enables you to issue SQL-level spatial queries
Supported Spatial Types

Note: Esri also supports binary storage for spatial data in SQL Server and Oracle (prior to 11g).

Microsoft Geometry for SQL Server 
Geography for SQL Server
Oracle Esri for Oracle
Oracle Spatial
IBM DB2 DB2 Spatial Extender
IBM Informix Spatial DataBlade
PostgreSQL Esri for PostgreSQL
multiuser geodatabases leverage an RDBMS