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The ArcMap Era Comes to an End. What does this mean for you?

While we’ve been talking about the retirement of ArcMap for years now, Esri has just finally made it official via a recent blog post by Javier Angel where Esri states:

“We do not have plans to release an ArcMap 10.9 with the ArcGIS release in 2021… While continued support has a timeline, ArcMap does not.”

Esri has now announced that ArcMap version 10.8.1 will be the last and will be supported until March 1, 2026. And that customers should ideally finalize plans to move their production systems to ArcGIS Pro in advance of that date.

This is really great news for the entire industry including SSP’s customer base. As I mentioned above, we’ve been talking about the retirement of ArcMap for years now. If you had asked me two+ years ago what the plan was, I would have told you that 10.2.1 would be the last utility-supported version of ArcMap with support expiring in June of 2021. That original retirement date has since motivated a large number of utilities to make their move to ArcGIS Pro and the utility network. But June 2021 is QUICKLY approaching and there was honestly no way we would have ever had the time or staff to get all of our valued customers migrated to the new platform by then!

Thankfully, Esri and Schneider Electric have extended their support of the legacy ArcMap/ArcFM™ products to 10.6.1 and now the 10.8.1 versions of the software which give us the much needed extra runway to plan, validate, and execute the utility network migration projects for all of the customers in the industry.

To date, SSP has been involved with well over 30 utility network and ArcGIS Pro projects and is currently leading the implementations projects for the majority of the early adopters within the US. Just last month, we presented at the Esri IMGIS conference on how we’ve partnered with 6 leading utility customers for both their UN implementation projects AND their ArcGIS Pro extension of choice via our SSP Productivity UN extension. Some of these customers are already live with the utility network while others have go-live dates coming up as soon as Q1 2021.

These early adopters are critical to the success of the industry as a whole as they have truly partnered with SSP and Esri to work through software issues, functionality gaps, and implementation patterns that will allow the rest of the world’s utilities to move forward with the utility network with less risk and much more reward. Please check out our presentation on Esri’s website to learn more about these customers and their journey from ArcMap to Pro and Productivity.

So where are you on journey to Pro? While the newly extended support date may give you (and us) some breathing room, we want to ensure you are safely migrated to the UN and up and running successfully long before the Esri ArcMap support runs out. Many of these initial projects have required a couple years for the implementation project. If you assume a year of advance planning, we’re talking ~3 years total depending on the size of the customer and the extent of their customizations and integrations. Therefore, if you want to be complete by the end of 2025, you’ll want to be kicking off your UN project(s) sometime in 2022 at the latest. And as we’re now closing out 2020, that’s just around the corner.

Some customers may still be worried about the utility network being brand new technology in the market. But time has moved fast! It’s been almost three years since the first release of utility network and there have been five “point” releases of the UN product – each with improvements in capabilities and performance. If you’re interested in exploring the nitty-gritty details of the utility network’s maturity, please check out Adam Tonkin’s recent blog post which explores the results we’ve seen thus far during our implementations including the business value drivers behind the utility network.

Please know that SSP is working hard to establish repeatable processes and techniques around the implementation of the utility network for all flavors of utilities. This, along with the natural maturation of the Esri software and our own product lines, will reduce the time it takes to migrate to and implement the new UN platform. At SSP, we work with a large number of mid-sized and smaller utilities and knowing that many of the early adopters are the larger, investor-owned utilities, we have been getting asked a lot these days about when is the best time for the mid-sized and smaller coops/munis to begin their migration. My answer to that question is typically to give it another year or so to allow for the benefit of time. This aligns well with the 2022’ish start mentioned above.

The final major concern we’ve heard from early adopter customers is that they wanted to ensure they had the ability to work with their implementation vendor of choice. We always hope that choice is SSP Innovations along with our award-winning product suite but regardless of your choice, the leading vendors are booking up quickly. My personal recommendation? Even if you don’t want to start your move until 2021 or 2022, you should begin the evaluation and contracting phase now. Lock in your vendor of choice as well as begin planning with your internal resources. We want to make this a smooth and successful transition and that requires joint planning sooner than later!

In summary, ArcMap support isn’t ending tomorrow though if you’re planning on staying on ArcMap until the bittersweet end, you’ll need to upgrade to 10.8.1 in the meantime. With that said, start your transition planning now. Ensure you have line of sight to your implementation kick off as well as your go live date and communicate this proactively to all stakeholders within your utility. And get on the calendar with SSP Innovations to ensure we’re both ready to ensure you have the right joint team in place to make this a seamless move. The UN has indeed been worth the wait. Let’s ensure it brings you every bit of the anticipated benefit!

For more information on ArcMap versions and their support timelines, please visit the ArcMap Continued Support page.

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