11 Replies Latest reply on Nov 30, 2016 3:38 PM by srzuch

    Commercial Hosting Changes - FM Server 15


      For those of you who may have missed it, FM Server 15 has a new EULA. I haven't actually seen or read the new EULA yet, but here's a link to an FAQ about the changes: https://www.filemaker.com/company/legal/docs/hosting_faq.pdf The new EULA prohibits companies from providing shared hosting services. This may not affect a lot of people, but it certainly has a major impact on the services we provide to our clients. Instead of us having a server with a single FM Server license, shared among a number of clients, each client will now have to purchase their own server license and run it on their own server. Technically, it would be possible for us to purchase licenses under the FLT program and lease those licenses to clients. Technically possible, but not legally possible (unless we move to Japan or Korea apparently). This change will significantly increase the hosting costs for our clients and has the potential to drive clients away from the platform entirely.


      FileMaker says this is for security reasons. The fact that they'll sell a lot more server licenses is just a coincidence. All of our clients are happy with the level of security we provide, which is above and beyond what is necessary and, while I understand that the security landscape is changing throughout the world, the Patriot Act certainly doesn't apply to Australian companies storing data on Australian servers. All of our clients are acutely aware that they are using our service and not FileMaker's and we've gone to the effort to ensure that FileMaker Inc. are absolved of any liability if something goes wrong (which it hasn't in nine years of service).


      FileMaker claim they will be offering alternatives, but so far, there's been no word on what that will be or when it will be available. This will have a devastating effect on our revenue and will be a major concern for our clients, many of whom are small businesses.


      To us, this seems like a backwards step, but I'm interested in others thoughts on this.



        • 1. Re: Commercial Hosting Changes - FM Server 15

          Hi Marc,  I could easily be wrong on this but I'm sure that any wrong info will be quickly corrected by the appropriate FMI source.  My understanding is that if someone gets an FLT pac, whether it's for 5 users or 75 users, they get supplied with two links, one for FMP (with licence number) and one for FMS (with licence number).


          Thus, I would think - hope - that means that the client can then supply that FMS licence to a hosting company, if they don't want to set up an in-house server or an Amazon AWS one.


          That said, I'm also guessing that from a host's pov, having to set up all the memory etc allocations in a virtual server to handle lots of separate FMS installs, may well be a nightmare, yes?

          • 2. Re: Commercial Hosting Changes - FM Server 15

            You are correct on both counts. The client will purchase under FLT and get download links for server and FMP. The problem we have is that at present, clients just purchase FMP licenses under an AVLA. All of our clients are small businesses and that's an added cost having to buy their own server license. I think our largest client has 20 users but most are under 10. I'd say the majority are only one or two users. These clients don't have the resources or technical expertise to run their own server. Nor do they have suitable internet connections.


            You are also correct about setting up and maintaining individual servers (real or virtual) for each client. It will increase our overheads. In addition, our newest server is only a few months into a three year contract. We can't take it offline to re-configure it and can't afford to leave it sitting empty. So it's not just about a potential loss of revenue. It's also about increased overheads.

            • 3. Re: Commercial Hosting Changes - FM Server 15

              If they switch from AVLA to FLT, I don't think there's an extra cost for the FMS licence.  The catch of course for very small businesses, is that 2 or 3 licences might be enough so it's a bit of a pain having to pay for 5 each year.  (I have quite a few clients who fit into this category - enterprising, individualistic and very resistant to unnecessary expenditure.)


              That said, I wouldn't have thought that they were eligible for AVLAs on that small licence number?  Most of my small ones 'own' their FMPs so potentially they could decide to switch to FLT in the future.  In fact, almost without exception, that particular group tend not to even use hosting services (against my personal urging!) however I think the new model might, in the longer term, encourage them to shift over.  (I think that this new model is heaps easier to 'pitch', in the longer term.)


              Even still, It certainly seems as if the transitional phase for most small enterprises is going to be problematic.  My gut feeling is that it might be a good idea for hosting clients to stay with an older version for some time.

              • 4. Re: Commercial Hosting Changes - FM Server 15

                There are a couple options here:


                - Host your FileMaker 15 databases on a shared FileMaker 14 server.  This would be accessible by 13 through 15 clients, the catch being any advantages of 15 server and new server side features would not be available.


                - Host your FileMaker 15 databases on a dedicated FileMaker 15 server.  Gets you all the new stuff.


                We support both of these choices with our hosting services, and have been providing both shared and dedicated FileMaker options for years.  Contact me privately if you want more information.


                - John

                • 5. Re: Commercial Hosting Changes - FM Server 15

                  There is no extra cost for FileMaker Server under FLT licensing, but the problem is not only the cost for the server licence, but also the fact that the servers cannot be shared anymore. This means a lot more than just the FMS licence. It requires, for each customer, a whole dedicated server (either virtual or physical) with enough ressources to comply the technical spec + the OS licence (if the server is a Windows machine). 

                  • 6. Re: Commercial Hosting Changes - FM Server 15

                    You are right John, but even with FileMaker Server 14, FileMaker strongly recommends that hosting companies do not support multiple customers at a time using a single license of FileMaker Server. 


                    From my understanding, hosting providers who will continue to offer shared hosting under previous versions won't be listed nor recommended by FileMaker past a certain date (February 2017), from which they expect all customers  have migrated to dedicated servers. Are you guys planning on continuing to offer shared hosting beyond that date?

                    • 7. Re: Commercial Hosting Changes - FM Server 15

                      I hadn't seen any statements to that regard.  We would need to verify that requirement to make our eventual decision.


                      However, I can say we have a lot of shared FileMaker hosting customers, many of whom I'm sure will stick with 14 (or earlier) instead of moving to a dedicated server.  We have never had a security breach with our shared hosting accounts, noting that we take many precautions to prevent this.  As such, I don't see that we would be able to just up and stop offering shared hosting in less than a year from now.


                      - John

                      • 8. Re: Commercial Hosting Changes - FM Server 15

                        To explain the effect these changes have on hosting providers, consider the following analogy:


                        You set up a transport business and buy a fleet of trucks and hire drivers. You spend nine years building a reputation as an efficient, reliable and affordable service. Then one day, out of the blue, the truck manufacturer comes to you and says "We have a new truck, but we won't let you buy it. We've decided that we'll only sell it to the people who actually drive the truck. You can keep using your existing trucks the way you have, but once they stop working, no more trucks for you." (soup nazi reference).


                        So now, the truck drivers have to find the money to buy their own trucks. The truck drivers can't afford them and really have no idea how to manage them themselves because you used to take care of that. As you can imagine, this could have major consequences in terms of revenue and reputation. Your entire business model has been disrupted for no valid reason.


                        Now I know that the pedants among you will find gaping holes in this analogy, but frankly I don't care. All I care about is the effect this has on my customers and my business.

                        1 of 1 people found this helpful
                        • 9. Re: Commercial Hosting Changes - FM Server 15

                          "...whether or not you receive a fee."



                          This has always been an interesting idea. How is it commerce if you are not getting paid?


                          • 10. Re: Commercial Hosting Changes - FM Server 15

                            Well, we all know why now. FileMaker was killing off their competitors in advance of creating their own hosting service. It has NOTHING to do with security – it has to do with commerce and profit. Period.


                            I'm trying to think of a nicer adjective than "scummy" to describe this move, but nothing comes to mind.

                            • 11. Re: Commercial Hosting Changes - FM Server 15



                              Well, we all know why now. FileMaker was killing off their competitors in advance of creating their own hosting service. It has NOTHING to do with security – it has to do with commerce and profit. Period.


                              I'm trying to think of a nicer adjective than "scummy" to describe this move, but nothing comes to mind.


                              I have a different take on the FileMaker cloud move.  Based on their "GoToWebinar - FileMaker Product Roadmap" this morning, their big push is  "team" computing ... sharing data between multiple devices in multiple locations for all size businesses.  Given their strategic emphasis on sharing, I think they really had to come up with a cloud offering.


                              FM Cloud also requires a dedicated server license (even though it is a Linux version which saves FM costs on the operating system).  It requires a SSL connection, and REST encryption, so they are very, very security conscious.  Their pricing (including AWS cost) is competitive with third party dedicated FM server providers, but clearly does not undercut them.  Finally, there are advantages of both FM Cloud and third party providers, and it clearly is not a slam.


                              But it is clear, shared server hosting is something that FM is no longer providing starting with FMS 15, for both their cloud and third parties.