VPN probably is not needed--though that's not something I have any realy experience with.
Standard networking set up for small numbers of users with filemaker Pro installed on their computers:
- Install FileMaker Pro on a host computer. This doesn't have to be a server machine, though a fast hard drive and processor will help improve performance.
- Enable Sharing on your FileMaker Pro files (Sharing option in the File Menu) and put the files on this computer. Open the file with FIlemaker Pro.
- Each of your users then use Open Remote... to find and connect to your database.
That's all you need for inside your local network. If you need to access from outside the LAN, you can still do it but your internet router will need to be configured to forward requests via the correct port to your host computer. Your users would inter the IP address of the router and include the port number in order to connect.
I believe VPN would be required since accessing the database from outside the LAN using port forwarding is not a secure connection. If it is, it does save me a few hundred bucks. Ultimately the Database will reside on a Mac Mini. I can pick a new one up for about $600.00. If I have to VPN to the network for the connection to be secure, I need to get the Mac Mini server which is about $1000. Then the question is is it best for the database to run on a separate computer on the network, or can it run on the mac mini server.