We're having great success with current Mac Minis with SSDs. Compact, inexpensive and great in the 20-30 user range with our veterinary and medical apps. We typically have an outboard SSD (USB or Firewire) for the FMS backups and a Time Machine drive (USB . . . we like big ioSafes) watching over it all. Typically i7, 512 GB SSD, 16GB memory. About $1700. You can back off on the SSD size if you don't need that much. We typically do. This is based on El Capitan and FMS/FMP 14.
Home of VetFM
I agree a lot with ericjungemann, what I can add is that due to our peculiar situation and to our clients requrements we tend to often consider
- 2 macminis;
- 1 QNAP NAS with its external HD for backup;
- one Pegasus2 raid.
The MacMinis act as Filemaker server exclusively, but they boot from the Pegasus.
If one macmini fails, hardware speaking, we connect the Pegasus to the second macmini and go from there. Minimum wait time for the users.
The NAS handles all the file sharing and we have no permission problems over SMB connections from win machines which write files that we import or webview, problems that we did / do have when the server was / is OS X.
Hi siplus, very interesting configuration. I'm intrigued at the Pegasus option - why not just set up a Mac Pro with a bunch of hard drives & raid? Also, I'm not clear on the need for 'file sharing', given that FileMaker handles its own...?
[PS. We've had good success as ericjungemann with the same configuration. However given the number of hard drive upgrades we've had to do - due to unexpected data needs - we now always spec 512Gb minimum.]
The current model Mac Pro technically is better as it has a better bus speeds (more Mhz and more bits) and server grade components, but it is a lot more expensive for a small gain at this number of users.
Carl, thanks for your input - your comments on the server grade components is consistent with what we understood, and your cost argument is true for one Mac Pro v one Mac Mini.
However my question involves one Mac Pro in place of two Mac Minis + Pegasus.
Well there is still one problem...
The second Mac Mini is for hardware redundancy. It's not possible to get a mac server now with hardware redundancy (dual components like power supplies etc.) and it's pretty hard to find tech support (like HP's 24x7 4 hour support for example) to get the server up and running again.
So the ultimate Mac setup is really to have 2 servers so you can do a quick swap and get up and going when one fails. As for using a Raid for the boot up disk you will have to ask Siplus.
For the Mac Pro you could probably do 1 x Mac Pro + 1 x Mac Mini for redundancy, then you would only be on the Mini for the duration of the Mac Pro's repairs.
Thanks for the various suggestions. I went with siplus suggestion of two mac minis and a pegasus raid. Hope to have this up and running in a week or so.
I confirm that the 2 x MacMini in my post was intended for HW redundancy.
We're having great success with current Mac Minis with SSDs. Compact, inexpensive and great in the 20-30 user range with our veterinary and medical apps.
Apologies ahead of time for probably sounding dismissive but I want to serve up a counter-point.
Personally I would never recommend a new Mac Mini for 20-30 users. Obviously a lot of that depends on the efficiency of the solution design and the user's activity (browsing records vs. entering data vs. running reports,...)
Eric: it sounds like your solution is very efficient in that matter. But for a lot (majority?) of the FM solutions that I have to work with would suffer badly with a recent Mac Mini, having the limited processing power and no scalability in the current Mac Minis just is not enough.
So cheap server is not always cheap. My general advice: don't assume that a Mac Mini can handle the load; check the solution, test it, use the FMS stats log and extrapolate for the expected load. The tools are all there...
I agree with wimdecorte. The latest Mac Minis may not be the best for 20-30 users depending on what they are doing.
The 2012 Mini with i7 quad core has handled a lot of abuse from me and it is not that long ago they were in the stores. You can still find these on eBay for $850-$1200 or so depending on configuration. Some are still NIB and have Apple Care.
The 4 core Mac Pro can be had for $2500 refurbished from apple if you need newer hardware. If FM is making you money I would say the additional cost is not an issue. I think the 6 core at $3400 refurbished is a bargain really.
For storage I use an external thunderbolt SSD Software RAID 10 (SoftRAID) for the databases so they are easy to move quickly to any other Mac if the FMS has a failure. Also super fast. Decent 240GB RAID 10 SSD enclosure is about $700.
If you get two identical machines you can use FMS14 Fail Over feature for best redundancy.
While I agree with the arguments of our honoured Co FileMaker Developers here, I am afraid that they did not read what you wrote:
On the Filemaker side we average around 5 connections, sometimes going up to as many as 10
Now, you did not write anything about your solution, and that could be equally important. Is your solution is very demanding?
You also write that you have an old X server. But not how well configured this is and how much ram, how many processors and what type of disk/raid.
With your very limited number of users I have this recommendations:
- If your solution being used by on average 5 users is pretty simple and: The smallest Mac mini with 8 or 16 GB of RAM*
- If your solution is more complex you could step up with these two options:
- The i7 processor instead of i5.
- SSD disk or the Fusion drive.
Yes, the Mac mini is not at all server class and I will definitely add an external USB 3 or (better) thunderbolt harddrive for local backup + external backup.
Your very limited number of users is, in my humble opinion, making this a logical choice.
For our larger installations Apple's decision to abandon their server strategy has lead us to recommend Windows 2012 solutions. But we also have very very very good experience with splendid performance from the Mac Pro machine as FileMaker 14 server. Impressive performance. But while the performance can match any PC the prise versus performance ration is not as good as with PC's. And the PC's may fit better into the IT architecture and physical arrangements in the server facility.
So, to stick to your question, and based on on average 5 and at peaks 10 users. Go for a Mac mini. Not as a general advice, but in this specific case.
I recommend not to rule-out Windows.
We switched from Mac to Windows Servers due to the fact that Apple just doesn't offer Mac Server HW.
I would not switch back - very happy with Windows 2012 Server. Major improvements!
I recommend not to rule-out Windows.
As consultants we should be able to recommend the best value to our customers. Even if it is not something we can do or maintain ourselves.