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I'm finding many gaps in my understanding of ArcSDE, particularly as it relates to Oracle.

I just can't quite wrap my brain around the overall architecture of it, and how it fits into an enterprise. Is ArcSDE installed on the Oracle server or on every client? Both?

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The short answer is both but I'll leave this one for @Ragi to answer properly :) – blah238 Jan 11 '13 at 18:18
If you insist @blah238 :) – Ragi Yaser Burhum Jan 11 '13 at 19:02
up vote 6 down vote accepted

You can think of ArcSDE as a spatial data abstraction library used by the GeoDatabase. It has both a client-side library and a server-side component. It stays in between your ArcGIS and Oracle software.

The client-side code always runs, well, in-proc to the client. It is shipped/built-in with all the ArcGIS software you may run - no separate installation required.

The server side portion has different ways of running. It can run as a separate process (i.e as a service) in whatever machine you want to run it (e.g same machine as Oracle, a third machine, whatever), or it can run in-proc to the ArcGIS software, this is known as direct connect.

If you want to understand a bit more about the GeoDatabase and ArcSDE, I would recommend reading a previous question/answer in this site titled "What is the are ESRI GeoDatabases?".

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Ah, I see... so when you're installing ArcSDE, you would do so on the DB server; the client-side libraries are already there from having ArcGIS installed? Do I have that correct? – Bickner_comma_Steve Jan 11 '13 at 19:20
@Bickner_comma_Steve That's correct. Some people also install it on a separate server - up to you. That's one case. The other case is where you use ArcSDE's direct connect. For that case, you don't install any service, instead, you would install the Oracle client libraries on the client machine.… The exact instructions vary by underlying db vendor (SQL Server, Oracle, Informix, DB2, etc) – Ragi Yaser Burhum Jan 11 '13 at 19:40

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