6 Replies Latest reply on May 14, 2016 8:27 PM by srzuch

    A FMS hardware/deployment question


      Given a use case of a primarily web direct deployed solution that is transaction heavy (lots of record creation) with 10 users and usually only 5 simultaneous users...


      What is the the real difference between an 8 core single machine deployment and a two machine deployment with a 4 core server each? How does FMS balance the WPE internally on the single machine deployment? Is one way a benefit over the other?


      Here are a few things I see at a glance:

      CPU speed-4core CPUs can usually be found in faster speeds. How much of that speed is taken away by the need to communicate between the servers?


      Bandwidth-Pro/Go client traffic to the database server are not inhibited by web UI data moving through the DB server connection.

        • 1. Re: A FMS hardware/deployment question

          I am really looking for advice on this. wimdecorte and taylorsharpe have shared deployment and hardware experience with me in the past. Advice from anyone is appreciated.

          • 2. Re: A FMS hardware/deployment question

            Hey bigtom... good to hear from you. 


            FileMaker Inc. has put out recommendations for FileMaker 15 Server at:  FileMaker Server 15 Technical Specifications | FileMaker


            In particular, FileMaker made note of bearing up the web publishing server as you have more Web Direct connections:




            The FileMaker Service is a separate server service than the Web Publishing Engine.  Having them on the same machine means they compete for the same available processors.  FileMaker used to be very poor at multi-threading, but that is in the past and the FileMaker service does a good job of creating separate threads for each user process.  Apache and IIS that run the web publishing engines are not created by FileMaker, but are highly optimized and run a lot of the world's web services. 


            It is always interesting making comparisons like you asked with an 8 core machine verses two 4 core machines.  The reality is that both situation have times they will perform better than the other.  But in general, spinning the WPE off to another machine is going to lessen the load on FMS.  I don't have any scientific facts on it, but from what I have seen, two 4 core machines perform better than one 8 core machine. 


            Note that comparing cpu speeds has a nice linear relationship, but ONLY for the exact same processor.  In other words, the consumer cpu's found in most Macs are not the same as server Xeon cpus found in the Mac Pro and most Windows servers.  Additionally, the Xeon cpus are optimized for server services which is what FMS and WPE are all about.  A significantly slower GHz speed Xeon is going to be more efficient than a fast consumer machine for server services.  Consumer cpus tend to also be optimized more towards graphics (e.g., gaming) than Xeons, which is why you find high end i7 processors for gamers than Xeons.  But since we are looking for server service performance, the Xeons are a better cpu for FMS and WPE. 


            While highly improved, a single OS with more cores is rarely going to be faster than two machines with the same number of total cores running two different services.  Keep in mind you can almost always find exceptions to these rules of thumb.  Also note that two machines are separating out the network management between two machines and not just the cpu load. 


            If you are only talking 5 simultaneous users, having a lot of cores is going to be wasted.  That few of users would probably work just fine on an i7 processor with 4 cores.  8 Xeon cores would be overkill and have a lot of un-utilized cpu time.  Also, for only 5 users, I would not get a second WPE computer.  Most of my clients I have not even talked about a 2nd computer for WPE until they had 50 or more users.  What often makes a bigger difference for small numbers of users is not the CPU, but it is the storage performance.  I am mostly recommending SSDs for clients because it improves the performance a lot more than even increasing RAM. 


            For what you are talking about (5-10 users), an i7 with 4 cores and fast SSD drive should be plenty fast without going overboard on hardware expense.  I would avoid any i5 processors or other light duty processors. 

            1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • 3. Re: A FMS hardware/deployment question

              For what you are talking about (5-10 users), an i7 with 4 cores and fast SSD drive should be plenty fast without going overboard on hardware expense.  I would avoid any i5 processors or other light duty processors.


              So, in your opinion a Mac Mini such as one with the specifications below would be more than adequate for a 5 user system with mix access via FMP,  FM Go, Web Direct, over a WAN, would be adequate, from a hardware perspecitive.


              Mac mini

              • 3.0GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz)
              • 16GB 1600MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM
              • 256GB PCIe-based Flash Storage


              I realize that there are other factors (proper configuration, programming, internet speed) that will greatly influence performance too.




              • 4. Re: A FMS hardware/deployment question

                I have several small companies with 3-10 users successfully using Mac Mini's with i7's and SSDs.  A few things to keep in mind, the current Mac Mini was downgraded by Apple and is an i7 with two cores and they no longer offer the 4 core version unfortunately.  So the last generation of Mac Mini's is actually faster if you put the same SSD hard drive in it.  But for this number of users there are not that many threads and two core can work if you pair it with fast SSD drives.  An i7 handling few threads can sometimes be faster than a Xeon processor.  But this only is true in workloads with a small number of users. 


                A Mac Mini with 16 Gigs and SSD now is about $1800, which is a nice price for a server.  You can get entry level Windows server hardware for less money, but then you also have to buy a Windows Server operating system.  The thing about Mac Mini's is that they are consumer grade hardware.  But if this is a small office, then it probably will cut the mustard.  I will always prefer Xeon server processors with things like multiple power supplies and multiple ethernet and SAN or flash storage, but those all cost a lot more.  Even the entry level Mac Pro is about $4000, but I sure like them as servers.  They are rock solid.  I personally prefer Macs with OS X, but a good Windows Server 2012 machine can do the job well and probably has more diagnostic and networking tools.  Also, you can VM a Windows Server and its really hard to do and probably not legal with the OS X license. 


                The biggest warning I tell people who are going on the cheap is that the Mac Mini can meet their needs, but it is a practical solution and not commercial grade.  Also, I insist on telling Mac Mini server companies to plan on it working for 3 years and that they must replace the hardware with a new Mac Mini or upgraded hardware.  They can repurpose the old Mac Mini to a desktop machine.  Keeping the server on current hardware is important for reliability and a 3 year upgrade schedule is a minimum, especially on consumer grade hardware. 


                Dare I mention online hosting?  It is an option.  It won't perform as well as an in-house server.  And there are a lot of issues about FileMaker 15 licensing and hosting making more expensive than in the past.  But there are some real benefits to using hardware in the cloud that someone else is responsible for maintaining and upgrading. 

                • 5. Re: A FMS hardware/deployment question

                  Thanks for the replies guys. My question is more about comparing single machine vs two machines and less about which actual server to buy or what might be good enough.


                  I am very familiar with the Mac Minis and it is not really what I am looking for in this case.


                  Maybe I should specify have been more specific with my question.

                  • 6. Re: A FMS hardware/deployment question

                    Eventually, this will be hosted since my primary client has personnel in Texas, California, Colorado, and New York.


                    The FMI restriction on shared hosting for FMS 15 is a non-issue given the client's security needs (financial firm which is regulated).   I would require that the shared hosting firm data center would have a security audit report (Report on Controls at a Service Organizations "SOC").