8 Replies Latest reply on May 27, 2016 12:33 PM by bigtom

    Low cost Windows VPS as alternative to shared hosting

    skywillmott

      So, with the demise of shared hosting as an option for FMS 15, I'm looking at other options for fairly small scale solutions.

       

      So far, the options I have looked at are:

       

      1. one of the hosting providers I currently use for shared hosting with FMS 14 is offering a dedicated FMS server for about $60/month for a 4GB RAM basic server + costs of FLT. This seems pretty good and has the benefit of a provider with experience in hosting FileMaker (so know how to set up security on the server properly) as well as automatic backups etc, plus the number of FLT licenses needed can be adjusted up or down each month as required.

       

      2. using an Amazon AWS EC2 instance... where the cost of a 4GB RAM, 2 vCPU, t2.medium instance looks like it might also cost around $60/month, though I would need to install FMS as well as security/firewall settings and so on. Plus I would need to purchase full annual FLT licenses.

       

      3. using a low cost Windows VPS... I've found one that costs just $15/month for 4GB RAM, 2vCPU, but again I would need to install FMS and set up necessary security measures... But an annual price difference of over $500 is attractive.... Though I would still need to purchase full annual FLT licensing.

       

      So, will the low cost one (option 3) be good enough for a pretty small scale solution (5-6 FMGo users, 1 FMP user)??

       

      I've no real experience of using such VPS providers for production purposes for FileMaker Server and solutions, and I have a bit of a learning curve in order to properly set up Windows Firewall etc as really I am a Mac guy - so far the only way I've managed to access my test database in that setup was to turn Windows Firewall OFF completely - which I'm pretty damn sure is not a good idea!! This is certainly something that makes me think that the shared hosting packages available for pre-FMS15 are probably much more secure than the DIY ones I would set up now, which kind of negates the security argument FMI have put forward to support removing shared hosting... hey ho....

       

      Anyway, these are the things I'm considering as alternatives to the shared hosting packages that previously have been a great low cost option - particularly for demo/test purposes and temporarily hosted solutions - for example, solutions used at one-off events etc. The only option that would seem to work for temporarily hosted solutions is option 1 - as it offers monthly FLT packages.

       

      Of course, there is a 4th option - using an in-office server and allowing remote access to it by setting up port forwarding on the office router etc.. However, this might not work so great if the office has a not so great internet connection and the solution was mainly being used by remote users.

       

      I would love to hear of any ideas and suggestions the Community might have :-)

        • 1. Re: Low cost Windows VPS as alternative to shared hosting
          bigtom

          skywillmott

           

          3. using a low cost Windows VPS... I've found one that costs just $15/month for 4MB RAM, 2vCPU, but again I would need to install FMS and set up necessary security measures... But an annual price difference of over $500 is attractive....

          Where did you find this deal? I would like to check it out. Does it have RDS (Remote Desktop)?

           

          So, will the low cost one (option 3) be good enough for a pretty small scale solution (5-6 FMGo users, 1 FMP user)??

          I would say yes in most cases. Especially if your solution is optimized for this kind of environment. However your solution design can have a big impact on performance. Users alone is not the only measure.

           

          Of course, there is a 4th option - using an in-office server and allowing remote access to it by setting up port forwarding on the office router etc.. However, this might not work so great if the office has a not so great internet connection and the solution was mainly being used by remote users.

          Price the cost of a better connection vs the one time cost of the local hardware.

           

          Where the VPS is located is always something you should consider. Distance from users matters.

           

          Setting up the Windows server for FMS is not that difficult. FMI is still offering free support for FMS install and setup. I believe this includes walking you through the port rules and settings.

          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Low cost Windows VPS as alternative to shared hosting
            skywillmott

            Hi bigtom,

             

            Thanks for your comments...

             

            The cheap VPS I've looked at is virmach.com - yes it is with Remote Desktop...

             

            They offer servers in a good number of locations which is great: New York, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, Frankfurt, and Atlanta    ... - particularly Frankfurt as I am in UK, though a lot of my work is for clients in various parts of the USA

            • 3. Re: Low cost Windows VPS as alternative to shared hosting
              dtcgnet

              2. using an Amazon AWS EC2 instance... where the cost of a 4MB RAM, 2 vCPU, t2.medium instance looks like it might also cost around $60/month, though I would need to install FMS as well as security/firewall settings and so on. Plus I would need to purchase full annual FLT licenses.

               

              I currently have an AWS EC2 instance that I set up after reading through an article from Soliant Consulting. It gives pretty good instructions. You'll find things that you'll need or want to do differently, but it provides a good enough roadmap to get you up and running. The t2.micro setting is free for one year. I'm using it currently, and it works pretty well but I haven't hammered it hard yet.

               

              I don't have a great way of providing some sort of "benchmark", but I loaded up a database with 100,000 records. I created a Perform Script on Server script which used a Replace Field Contents formula to replace a date in all 100,000 records. Granted, that's not a great test of what needs to be done, but it gave me something to compare to at least. That task over a WAN would take a heck of a long time (I gave up before it finished).

               

              With AWS, you can stop an instance, resize it, and restart it. That simple. If you have an Elastic IP or an actual name set up, you wouldn't have to change your IP settings when you resize your instance (otherwise you do). I did just some very, very simple tests, repeating the Replace Contents step twice for each setting.

               

              t2.micro: 75.884 seconds, 76.444 seconds

              t2.large: 66.556 seconds, 66.789 seconds

              m4.large: 72.234 seconds, 71.954 seconds

              m3.large: 104.453 seconds, 102.856 seconds

              c4.large: 63.853 seconds, 63.407 seconds

               

              For that test, the free t2.micro instance performed pretty close to the m4.large instance (which costs quite a bit more).

               

              Each hour of use is pretty cheap, so do some real world testing if you go that way. (A t2.large goes for $0.134 per hour, an m.4 large goes for $0.246 per hour. There are charges for some other things, too, but...a few hours of testing would cost you less than $20.

               

              If the t2.large would work for you, you'd pay $1,214 upfront for a 3-year term. That would bring the effective charge down to $0.0462 per hour. An m4.large would go for $1173, or again, less than a nickel per hour.

               

              Where else can you get real-world, cheap testing like that? Once your software is set up and your free instance is running, spend a few bucks and change from one instance to another for a day. I tested out 5 separate "machines" in less than an hour.

               

              The t2 instances are Burstable Performance Instances. They provide a certain baseline level of performance, but you build up "CPU credits" so that if you're not hammering the system, credits build up and are used automatically to increase performance. M4 are "General Purpose". M3 instances balance compute, memory and network resources. Compute Optimized have the "lowest price/compute performance". But mainly...it is ridiculously easy to try out each type of computer for YOUR application.

              2 of 2 people found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Low cost Windows VPS as alternative to shared hosting
                electon

                dtcgnet wrote:

                 

                 

                I don't have a great way of providing some sort of "benchmark", but I loaded up a database with 100,000 records. I created a Perform Script on Server script which used a Replace Field Contents formula to replace a date in all 100,000 records. Granted, that's not a great test of what needs to be done, but it gave me something to compare to at least. That task over a WAN would take a heck of a long time (I gave up before it finished).

                Have you given the app provided by Nick LIghtbody from deskspace.com a try?

                It's an open source benchmarking tool for FileMaker Server.

                http://www.deskspace.com/downloads.html

                 

                The download link was not easy to figure out at first.Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 00.35.27.png

                 

                Of course it's better if there's some other server data to compare against.

                Also a video about.

                 

                FileMaker News | FileMaker Server 15 Performance Improvements | FileMaker Pro 15 Video Course 40 Hrs - YouTube

                • 5. Re: Low cost Windows VPS as alternative to shared hosting
                  dtcgnet

                  Thanks for the link. I'm going to give this a run through.

                   

                  Dan

                  • 6. Re: Low cost Windows VPS as alternative to shared hosting
                    dtcgnet

                    I took a bit of time today and did some testing with Amazon EC2 instances. I tried the deskspace database for testing, but...I'm not sure I was setting things up correctly. So I downloaded a database from Neo Code Software. It's free, and you can download it at:

                     

                    GitHub - neocodesoftware/NeoCode-SpeedTest: Standard test suite to put FileMaker client and server through record creati…

                     

                    It comes set up to work with 100 records. It was taking forever, so I modified the appropriate script and set my version for 20 records.

                     

                    I set my EC2 instance to t2.micro, which is in the "free tier" at Amazon (AWS). Free for 1-year. I have a developer copy of FileMaker Server 14 on that server, and it's been running fine. I opened the NeoCode database from the server using FileMaker Pro Advanced 15.0.1. I am in Des Moines, Iowa. My instance is in the Oregon area.

                     

                    The NeoCode database runs a series of tests when a user logs in. It runs each test locally on the served file, and also performs the script on server. Long story short, these results are real-world tests using FMPA 15, FMS14, and various instance types of Amazon Web servers. I also loaded the file onto the FM Server 13 installation of a client here in Des Moines. That solution uses DSL to their locale with a Mac Mini as the server.

                     

                    Ignore the Min, Avg, and Max columns.

                     

                    As I look at it...an awfully cheap t2.large instance has a good chance of working well for a lot of the small clients (2-5 users) that we as developers come across. These tests don't describe "real world", but...all of the same tests ran on each of the tested virtual servers.

                     

                    t2.micro (free)

                    t2micro.jpg

                     

                     

                     

                    t2.large

                    t2Large.jpg

                     

                     

                    m4.large

                    m4large.jpg

                     

                     

                    m4.4xlarge

                    m4_4xlarge.jpg

                     

                    client's Mac Mini.

                    MacMini.jpg

                    • 7. Re: Low cost Windows VPS as alternative to shared hosting
                      Mike Duncan

                      2. using an Amazon AWS EC2 instance... where the cost of a 4GB RAM, 2 vCPU, t2.medium instance looks like it might also cost around $60/month, though I would need to install FMS as well as security/firewall settings and so on. Plus I would need to purchase full annual FLT licenses.

                       

                      Also keep in mind that if you pay for a year up front, you get a nice discount on the cost from AWS as well. The cost varies depending on how you provision your server, but if you know what you need, this is a good option to keep in mind.

                      • 8. Re: Low cost Windows VPS as alternative to shared hosting
                        bigtom

                        VirMach seems like a pretty good deal compared to AWS. They have a note that the CPUs are 2.0GHz, but there is another page that says most of their hardware is now 2.4GHz or better. Waiting to hear back on the actual CPU hardware options.

                         

                        With 4GB 2vCPU and 100GB SSD RAID 10  storage for around $35/month if you pay annually. That includes the high CPU option and premium support. If you have low CPU usage and do not need premium support it is less than $20/month.

                         

                        I am going to give them a shot for a few months and see how it works out. It's worth the price just to try it out.