Standalone or WAR?

Standalone or WAR?

In fact, the question is much more complex than that! Installing JIRA or Confluence should be an easy task, but the first difficulty appears as soon as you reach Atlassian’s website: which installation mode to choose? Several are available, you’re lucky we’re here to make things clearer! First choice you need to make is: OnDemand or Download (formerly known as OnPremise).


This mode is Atlassian’s cloud hosted solution. You don’t need any server, and everything is made available to you in a few minutes on

  • Quick set up
  • Automatic upgrades
  • External hosting
  • Restrained add-ons list
  • Impossible to integrate your LDAP directory
  • No access to JIRA database (for advanced reporting purpose)
  • Limited to 2000 users
  • Your data is stored in the US
When do you choose that mode?

  • When you don’t have any server or team to maintain it.
  • When you don’t need any special add-on.


This mode is installation on your own server. Several files are at your disposal, matching available distributions: Installer, Standalone or WAR.

JIRA or Confluence versions for OS X are available, they must only be used for testing purpose, never in production! Indeed, only Windows and Linux environment are supported by Atlassian. See Supported platforms page for more information.
  • All Atlassian Marketplace add-ons available
  • Control over upgrades
  • Advanced customization (configuration files, database, …)
  • Infrastructure to install and maintain
  • Manual upgrades
When do you choose this mode? 

  • When your deployment requires special add-ons or custom developments
  • When you have more than 2000 users
  • When you have strict security requirements

Let’s focus a little on the different distributions available.


This is an installation that bundles a pre-configured Tomcat. This is the Atlassian’s recommended distribution for all users. You just need to unzip the archive and JIRA/Confluence is up, great! Unfortunately, if advanced configuration is necessary, this distribution shows its limits. Standalone version is recommended by Atlassian: you can identify it through its label which contains nothing but the version (for JIRA), or Standalone for Confluence. Use this when you don’t have any advanced customization requiring configuration file modifications.


This is the latest distribution created by Atlassian. Basically, this is simply a Standalone distribution packaged in a wizard installer for Windows or Linux. The installer contains pre-configured paths and ports that you can edit on the go. This can also be used for upgrades as it automatically detects your current installation path (if it is a Standalone). Use this when you don’t do any advanced customization that requires configuration file modifications, also, be careful if you have custom Tomcat configuration (non standards ports, SSL, AJP, …).


WAR distribution is a WAR generator (Web application ARchive). The generated archive then needs to be deployed on an application server previously installed (Tomcat because this is the only one supported). The archive generator allow you to alter files in the application through an edit-webapp folder. While generating the WAR archive, files contained in that folder will be merged with those contained in the application. This is great to isolate files to migrate for an upgrade, which can be managed with your favourite version control system. A lot of advanced configuration require editing files in the application:

  • Crowd SSO
  • Email templates modification
  • Add icons for statuses/priorities
  • Edit JSPs
  • Install V1 plugins

Use that when:

  • You have customizations that required editing configuration files in the application
  • You need to use a specific Tomcat version (supported on your OS)
  • You have a pre-packaged Tomcat version in your company


If you want to enjoy JIRA or Confluence advanced configuration as well as their numerous add-ons while not taking care of architecture and maintenance, you still have the ability to be hosted by an Atlassian Expert. We have two hosted solutions for our customers.

  • Use any add-on available on Atlassian Marketplace
  • Control over upgrades
  • External hosting
  • Advanced support by Valiantys
  • Bi-annual audit of your instance
  • Price (includes server rental)
  • No access to the database (for reporting purpose)
When do you choose that mode?

  • When your customization requires specific plugins
  • When you have strict security constraints (Data hosted in Europe and available on the internet)
  • When you don’t have infrastructure or resources to host JIRA or Confluence yourself

To conclude

We hope that this guide helps you make the right choice for your instance, but if you still have doubts, don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

For those who are already set up and thinking about changing installation modes, you can of course change at any time: OnDemand to OnPremise, OnPremise to hosted, … Finally, here is an infographic that sums things up.


Cutted Triangle

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