A Tale of Two Installs

A Tale of Two Installs

A regular question I get asked is what is the difference between the different SOA Suite installs and which is best for me.  I thought I would address that question in this entry.  The short answer is that one is intended for developers and the other is intended for production deployments.  However that over simplifies things.

Initial Choice

When starting the SOA installer we are faced with a choice between Basic Install and Advanced Install.  The basic install provides us with very few options of how we want things to be.  On the other hand it gives us most of what we want in a useful configuration.

Basic Install

The basic install option will install and configure the following components :
OC4J will listen directly for HTTP requests from browsers using its built in HTTP listener.

Advanced Install

The basic install option allows you little choice in how things are set up.  The advanced install gives more options, allowing you to install
  • SOA Suite with a web server
  • just a web server
  • just a J2EE server
  • or a web server and J2EE server without SOA Suite
If installing SOA Suite it also requires an external database to act as the repository.  When installing SOA Suite it creates two OC4J instances called home and oc4j_soa.  The home container will normally run the application server control and Java SSO components.  The oc4j_soa instance will have the same components as in the basic install but normally the AS control and the Java SSO will not be active in this instance.

The advanced install SOA Suite option also provides the Oracle HTTP Server (OHS) to act as the web server.

Choices, Choices

So which option should I install and why?  Lets look at different scenarios for each install.

Simple Developer Install

If I need a development environment then the Basic Install offers the smallest footprint and the fewest moving parts.  Everything needed is installed as part of the one click install process.  Oracle Lite can be used for simple data storage but it is missing many of the advanced features of a a full Oracle Database and is only single user.  Don't get hung up on the single user nature of Oracle Lite though, because in this case the single user is the OC4J home container!  Any serious database work will still need an external database.  I have not tried to repoint the basic install at a full Oracle database,  I would like to try this some time, basically it would mean installing the repository into a new database (see Marc Keldermans blog for a succinct summary of how to do this) and then modifying the data sources in OC4J to point to the new database repository.

Advanced Developer Install

If I need access to an Oracle database then I can either perform a Basic Install and use an additional Oracle database or I can do an Advanced Install and have the repository in the the same database as the rest of my application is using.


For production use it is absolutely essential to use a database other than Oracle Lite.  The only fully supported way to achieve this is to use the Advanced Install option.  If the installation is going to be accessed by the web from outside the firewall it is also imperative to use the Advanced Install option as all Oracles penetration testing is done with this configuration rather than against the embedded HTTP Server in OC4J.  If necessary the footprint of the Advanced Install can be reduced by not running the OC4J home instance.


The different SOA installs have somewhat different architectures but clear intended usage.  A Basic Install is really only intended for development use whilst an Advanced Install can be used for development, testing or production.  Understanding how the architecture is put together will hopefully help you make intelligent informed choices about the configurations you require.


Hi Antony, Thanks for this great article. I have one question. Given that our installation is NOT going to be accessed by the web from outside the firewall and that it will not be "heavily" used, do you have any specific reasons why it is "absolutely essential" to use the Advanced Install option for production? Regards.

Posted by Eddie Awad on September 07, 2007 at 05:55 AM MDT #

Performance with OLite stinks compared to a regular Oracle database.  Also you are likely to be using a regular database anyway and so might as well simplify the number of systems that your DBA must administer.  That said I am sure there are customers who have succesfully gone live on OLite, I am just not aware of any!


Posted by Antony Reynolds on September 07, 2007 at 11:55 AM MDT #

Antony, Great explanation of the two installation options. Coincidently, because of the patch set, I have been working on an article about accessing the Oracle Lite databases via Mobile SQL Client: http://soastation.blogspot.com/2007/09/oracle-lite-and-soa-suite.html I came across your article before publishing and it allowed me to drop a lot of explanations that you covered much better than I was doing. Many thanks, Peter

Posted by Peter O'Brien on September 13, 2007 at 11:19 PM MDT #

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Musings on Fusion Middleware and SOA Picture of Antony Antony works with customers across the US and Canada in implementing SOA and other Fusion Middleware solutions. Antony is the co-author of the SOA Suite 11g Developers Cookbook, the SOA Suite 11g Developers Guide and the SOA Suite Developers Guide.


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