1 2 3 Previous Next 41 Replies Latest reply on Jun 28, 2016 2:49 PM by bigtom

    What makes a bad ass Filemaker Server


      I'm looking to build the best filemaker server I can - to tell you the truth, I'm not so happy with the new Apple Mac Pros ( I don't know why though, I guess I'm used to the towers )


      Currently have a 2010 Mac Pro Tower - 2.8 Ghz quad core intel xeon - 16 gb RAM - 2 spinning 1T HD in a raid configuration - mirrors of each other for FMS

      and for my web server - I have a 2.66 ghz intel core 2 duo iMac computer 2009 - 8 gb ram - 500 gb HD - both dedicated machines - two machine configuration


      I want faster ...


      I'm only using 1 of the Mac Pro's gigabit ethernet ports currently - can I use both? how? run ethernet lines back to the office switch?


      Should I switch out the HD for solid state?

      still do the raid config?


      Should I buy a new computer?

      Brand new Mac Pro?

      1 T internal solid state?

      external raid backup lighting connect?

      4 core 6 core 8 core 12 core?

      16 gb ram? 32?

      dual ethernet?


      30 FMP in house users - 75 gb of databases in 52 files - custom web publishing using php - no web direct users at this point - 2-3 filemaker go users - currently running FMS14 and this week will upgrade to FMS 15 and can't wait


      here is your chance to sound off - thanks in advance

        • 1. Re: What makes a bad ass Filemaker Server

          Ghz and SSD


          For networking, using 2 ethernets ports won't do anything, Filemaker is not throughput bound, but access bound.

          Moreover you won't be able to use 2 ports on the clients on Macs, also your switch would need to support trunking.


          RAID, won't help you for speed, SSDs are plenty fast (ok if you have tens of Gigabytes files, backups will be faster), but it won't change anything for client access.


          The Mac Pro is outdated, uses a 2013 processor. The next one will be ok. The best Mac is the iMac 5K with built to order faster processor. It's way faster than Mac Pro.


          But Frankly, the PC hardware is much better. Today you should use an overclocked skylake processor.


          If you wan to remain on Mac, as I do, the best performances will be using an overclocked skylake (or wait for kabylake end of year).


          I used an OC 4,15 Ghz 6 cores, Hackintosh from 2010 to may 2015, without problems (except the painful setup)

          From may 2015 to know I used a 2012 Retina Macbook Pro 2.7ghz core i7 which is 5% faster than my previous 4,15 Ghz 2010.

          And today I changed it to an used 2014 Retina Macbook Pro 2.5ghz core i7 which is 20-30% faster.

          Just saying that to show you what 2 years gets (but nowadays progress are a bit slower), anyway you setup is seriously outdated

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          • 2. Re: What makes a bad ass Filemaker Server

            thank you so much for the feedback - I appreciate it - I would like to stay on Macs for now - so more cores the better with Filemaker Server? I mainly want some help with I/O user response from the server on the network - server seems to get overloaded and struggles to "catch up" - I really appreciate the input !

            • 3. Re: What makes a bad ass Filemaker Server

              HI lanclos,


              One of the things that you can do with a 2010 Mac Pro Tower is load all 4 bays and run the:

              * OS+FMS

              * Hosted files

              * Backups

              ..on different disks/volumes


              That way you are using more of the available i/o


              I have always liked how easy it is to get to the drives on those machines


              Tony White


              • 4. Re: What makes a bad ass Filemaker Server

                Unless you use web direct with many users, cores, beyond 4, are not that much used.

                So given same process tech favor frequency Ghz over cores. I'd take a two cores 10 Ghz over a 4 x 2,5ghz core anyday, but they don't exists.


                Specifically, I've never saw the fmserver process using more than 200% cpu = 2 cores, you have a core that's used for backups, and server side script can use several cores, but you're soon limited by the fmserver process.


                And ditch you're 2010 Mac Pro, it's super old. And please SSDs, no platter HD anymore

                • 5. Re: What makes a bad ass Filemaker Server

                  lanclos wrote:



                  I want faster ...




                  Define 'faster' first.  If you look at the FMS stats log, are there any bottlenecks?  Typically it would be one of these 4:

                  - disk i/o

                  - network i/o

                  - processing power

                  - memory


                  If you currently don't have any bottlenecks then you will get very little bang for your buck.  I order to make your server faster then your only options would be to go for higher GHz processors and faster SSD.


                  If you do have bottlenecks then you have to target those.  No use spending money on SSDs if the constraint is processing power.

                  If the bottleneck is processing power then you need to decide between faster processors or more cores (or ideally both - but that is expensive).  Faster processors will help always but may not remove the bottleneck if the solution's design and the deployment can benefit from more cores.

                  • 6. Re: What makes a bad ass Filemaker Server

                    Vincent_L wrote:


                    Unless you use web direct with many users, cores, beyond 4, are not that much used.



                    That is not true.  Much of that depends on the complexity of the design.  I have seen more than my share of solutions and busy deployments that benefited from going from an 8-core to a 24-core server.

                    No Webdirect in use, just plain old FMP users.

                    • 7. Re: What makes a bad ass Filemaker Server

                      wimdecorte a écrit:

                      benefited from going from an 8-core to a 24-core server.

                      Have you seen the fmserverd process using more than 200%, 300%, 400% and upper ?

                      • 8. Re: What makes a bad ass Filemaker Server

                        That's a pointless metric.  At the OS level  you will very seldom see the FMS processes use that kind of CPU power, the only metric that counts is the 'elapsed time per call' in the FMS stats log.


                        You can see that one being maxed out (and drag FMS to its knees) without seeing huge spikes on the OS level.

                        • 9. Re: What makes a bad ass Filemaker Server

                          Let me expand on that: if you see the 'elapsed time per call' and sometimes the 'wait time per call' very elevated then adding more cores typically alleviates the problem.  Not always because it depends on the design of the solution and what users are doing (all searching on a single field in a single table vs. working in various parts of the system).


                          Looking at the CPU usage on the OS level is a constant fight with the IT departments.  It really simply is the wrong place to look for making decisions on how much processing power to give your FMS box.

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                          • 10. Re: What makes a bad ass Filemaker Server

                            Hum, I don't believe in magic, if adding more cores to alleviate the problem, doesn't translate with having the fmserverd process CPU usage augment, then those extra cores are not used.


                            To my experience, it seems that fmserved is not able to use more than 100% cpu per table when serving. And has most of solutions have a main table that a lot of people use, then more cores won't do anything.

                            Maybe fmserverd can delivers 400% cpu usage with 4 completely separated table serving (and maybe even files), but I've yet to see this, that's an unrealistic scenario for a solution as tables are often related.

                            Maybe filemaker hosting companies that host different solutions to different user can see more actual core usages, but for most of in house solution cores won't matter much past 4.


                            Invest on Ghz

                            • 11. Re: What makes a bad ass Filemaker Server

                              I could not disagree more.  You simply can't say "for most in-house solutions 4 cores are enough".  The FMS stats don't lie.  Work with them to decide where to spend the money.


                              Quick story to elaborate the point (and this is not a one-off unique story; this happens all the time and I do server deployments pretty much for a living)

                              A few months ago a customer asked me to spec out a new server because their old server (8-cores 2.6GHz) was showing signs of strains.  The IT department said: no: it's all fine because the Windows Perfmon does not show the overall CPU load to go up over 50%.


                              But the performance complaints were real, big slow-downs as the user load hit a certain # of users.  The evidence in the FMS stats log was there: elevated 'elapsed time / call' and 'wait time / call' as the 'remote calls in progress' and 'remote calls / sec' climbed.  Clear evidence that the processing power was being taxed.


                              So I proposed a machine with more cores but slower GHz (to save them some money).  The new processor runs at 2.2GHz.

                              The client did some tests and saw that their test task ran slower than on the old server.  And of course it did: a single task will run slower because of the slower clock speed.

                              My point to them was - and bear with me, this is somewhat counter intuitive - each individual task may run slightly slower but this server will handle the volume without performance degradation.


                              On their old server - where individual tasks run somewhat faster - once the user load hit a certain number, performance would degrade for ALL users.

                              Whereas on the new server - because of the extra cores - the server can handle the extra load without slowing down.

                              The end effect is that all users have better performance, not just the lucky few until the server runs out of cores to use.


                              It's like the choice between buying a sports car vs. a bus: yep; the sports car will be much faster.  But trying putting 100 people in it.  Then the bus will be faster overall every time.

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                              • 12. Re: What makes a bad ass Filemaker Server

                                Thanks for sharing,


                                But comparing an old server, with a new one, is comparing Apples to Bananas. Only worthwhile comparisons are on same tech level. So it's ok to compare 4 cores Intel "broad well" to 6 cores ones, with same Ram / SSDs. But it's not ok to compare a 2010 2.6 processor to a 2016 2.2 Ghz, the later even clocked lower can be a lot faster than the older.


                                So, there's no proof that for them, a 4 cores 4Ghz wouldn't have been much better (and there single tasks would have been a lot faster also).


                                Of course there IT is wrong claiming that the OVERALL OS level CPU usage is low means FMS doesn't need a better CPU. I've never said to look at the overall CPU usage, but the CPU usage of the fmserverd process itself. On a 8 cores, having this one that counts pegged to 100% would only translate in a 12,5% overall CPU usage. I can't believe IT guys would be as stupid as that.


                                But I'm pretty sure their fmserved process CPU usage was pegged to 100%, maybe 200% if they were lucky.


                                And if they experience, maybe, bette performance wth many users, that may be very much to sub systems improvement, better Motherboard, faster memory, faster storage.


                                So unless you can see the fmserved process itself use moire than 200% then cores won't do much.

                                • 13. Re: What makes a bad ass Filemaker Server

                                  Vincent_L wrote:


                                  So unless you can see the fmserved process itself use moire than 200% then cores won't do much.


                                  Let's agree to disagree then.

                                  I'm saying that more cores can solve a lot of issues, especially after a careful consideration of the stats logs.

                                  I never base my decision on what the fmserverd process reports in the OS.

                                  • 14. Re: What makes a bad ass Filemaker Server

                                    So besides core/ ghz - is there a good way to calculate how much RAM it can take advantage of?


                                    i.e. if you have 50GB in databases, and you allow FMserver to use 52GB in cache, will it just run everything out of memory?  or is there a way to trick it to just run everything in memory? 


                                    256 and 512GB of ram is not that hard to get these days, I didn't know if there was any benefit of it.

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