What Does Esri’s Network Management Release Mean for You?

October 5, 2021 — Adam Tonkin

If you’ve been reading SSP’s blog for any length of time – you know how deeply involved and committed SSP is to Esri’s Utility Network solution, through the original pre-release Alpha and Beta versions, to now leading the largest and most complex implementations on the planet.

Esri technology continues to rapidly advance and grow in scope – across multiple device platforms and operating systems – reaching more areas of a customer organization than any before. Like many successful software companies, Esri has adopted more modern software development approaches and the practices of “DevOps,” which enables solutions to be delivered far more rapidly than ever before. This keeps existing production software up-to-date with new capability and ensures critical software can align with any changes made to underlying platforms.

Think of your iPhone, iPad or Android devices, or even Windows Desktop O/S, and the frequency of new updates you receive – these often represent a blend of required security, performance, and stability updates, and often cool new functionality enhancements. Esri – as a significant Enterprise platform – is part of that critical ecosystem within a utility that requires constant, critical, and necessary change.

Where this has represented challenges for implementation programs, is that our projects aren’t always just about the core Esri and SSP software. As noted in Jack’s letter, most of these programs are truly transformational and involve lengthy processes such as data migration and organizational change management activities, such as training and education sessions. Based on the critical nature of both the GIS itself and systems fed by new integrations, projects often involve lengthy testing periods executed by multiple groups. In many cases, the overall timelines are based on dependencies outside the influence of the GIS program itself and may involve multiple business units, organizations, or even multiple companies.

All of these can lead to a program that can take months or even years to implement. In turn, this means that the software versions we may have targeted in the early stages (or even prior!) for the program have changed – and the associated capability and benefits changed with it. Vendors and customers have had to make critical decisions on what version to base work on – understanding that the target may change between the start of the journey and the end. Should we run with a new version? Do we plan an upgrade? Plan to stick with the old?

Esri’s announcements regarding the Network Management support model and commitment to patches and workflows to versions for 2 years for ArcGIS Pro, and 4 years for ArcGIS Enterprise, provide an essential baseline with which everyone can create a solid program roadmap. Customers can choose what version to adopt, knowing any critical issues will be addressed through that period and plan (if required) to ‘build in’ an upgrade path either during or after their program.

Likewise, SSP is completely aligned with Esri in providing the same ENM and Enterprise 10.8.1 / Pro 2.6.x support model for SSP ArcGIS/Utility Network Products, such as SSP Productivity, Delta, Maintenance, and MIMS.  Those customers that have just gone live on 10.8.1 or that are planning to Go Live on these products with the 10.9.1 ENM can be assured that SSP will continue to patch and support our products on these versions. SSP’s commitment to supporting ENM Product Roadmaps will continue to align with Esri’s path forward, taking advantage of new Esri capability while enhancing our own.

All of those planning, executing and/or already on the Esri Utility Network Platform should be excited about this announcement – I know I am! – this represents the continued acknowledgment of challenges specific to our industry and allows customers to make their own decisions on timelines while knowing Esri continues with modern software deployment practices designed to keep your technology secure, reliable, and performant. Please reach out to SSP for any more details on what this means for you!

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