1 2 Previous Next 16 Replies Latest reply on Jul 27, 2016 2:42 PM by CarstenLevin

    Mac versus Windows (PC) for server




      I have a MacMini Server that I love and is working great. Since it's a few years old I want to migrate to newer hardware.


      I'm looking for real world experience moving Server from Mac to Windows OS.


      I have a solution that supports about 25 people. No Webdirect as of yet, but coming soon. My current hardware is a 4 core MacMini server with two SSDs and 16 gig of Ram.


      Also, any experience running in virtualization (VM), Websphere ESX? In that same regard, what about have two VMS, running the main server then the web direct portion (so a two server setup)?


      Thanks so much.



        • 1. Re: Mac versus Windows (PC) for server

          "No Webdirect as of yet, but coming soon."


          Windows or an Amazon EC2 cloud server.


          Mac has made it clear that it's not really interested in enterprise hardware and minimal enterprise OS.


          If you're interested in saving on recurring hardware and labor costs, with the flexibility of scaling up or down, AWS EC2 is the way to go. I've used it in my last four deployments and all four have run without issues since launch. The smaller monthly recurring cost is usually easier with the finance department too as opposed to the heavy hit of in-house hardware.

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          • 2. Re: Mac versus Windows (PC) for server

            “Amazon knows nothing about FileMaker”


            Shots fired, hit the deck!!!




            Just kidding. And agreed, if you need someone to help you along getting onto the Cloud, hosting providers with existing support structures will definitely be more assistive than DIY.


            However, if you’re pretty handy with setting up your own server, installing filemaker server clients, configuring firewalls and the like, may want to do a price comparison vs. the competition.



            • 3. Re: Mac versus Windows (PC) for server

              If you choose to stick with an on-prem solution, I've found FMS to run very well in a VMWare vSphere environment. You won't find much help from FileMaker on this, other than to tell you to configure it properly. If you prefer to "change your own oil" go for it, but I wouldn't rush out and waste money on a big capital expenditure for this project.


              25 people isn't a lot, so pick what you know and like. There's really no compelling reason to pick Mac over Windows based on your stated objectives, but other factors like supporting SSO for Windows clients might make up your mind for you. If you want to stick with a Mac, you'll find that Apple has done away with the Mac Mini Server. You really should have it running on a hardware RAID anyway, so get a Thunderbolt-capable RAID—I'm fond of the Pegasus myself.


              If you are going to be supporting WebDirect and/or custom web publishing clients, definitely go with a two-server config from the get go. Not only is it more scalable, but it's easier to diagnose performance issues. If your budget permits, go with a third server and set it up as a standby.


              I'm all for cloud services when it makes sense, but you won't always see a cost saving. A hosted server would be a huge budget increase for many of my clients who happily run their own small office servers for five+ years. That said, they do offer some huge advantages in terms of scalability, performance, availability and security. My advice: pick the right tool for the job.


              - Dave

              • 4. Re: Mac versus Windows (PC) for server

                Apple does not offer an xServe or specific server hardware, but I've found the Mac Pro's with Xeon processors and flash storage to be really fast solutions especially on local area networks.  I've had several clients "upgrade" from a Mac Pro to a fast Xeon windows server with SAN storage and find FileMaker Server performs slower on it.  Then again, Apple's Mac Pro is 2013 hardware and showing its age.  Its biggest advantage is the flash PCIe storage.  The big advantages to a windows server is the availability of tools for snapshots, network analysis, load balancing, virtualization, etc.  Basically, Windows Servers are becoming more the Cloud type server than Mac OS X Server.

                • 5. Re: Mac versus Windows (PC) for server

                  I think everyone has laid it out pretty much already.


                  One topic I have found little information on is hyper threading on Win Server 2012. Seems it is capable but it might need to be turned on somehow?


                  I use Macs for smaller LAN installs and Windows for anything cloud based. You may consider using the Mac mini you have now as a machine for a two machine deployment?

                  • 6. Re: Mac versus Windows (PC) for server

                    bigtom wrote:


                    I think everyone has laid it out pretty much already.


                    One topic I have found little information on is hyper threading on Win Server 2012. Seems it is capable but it might need to be turned on somehow?


                    Hyperthreading is a feature of the processor and the OS just sees the HyperThreaded cores as, welll, just extra cores.

                    It's automatic, nothing to configure in Windows.  If you are sure you have an HT capable processor but don't see it reflected in the # of cores that Windows shows then you may want to check your bios.


                    bigtom wrote:



                    I use Macs for smaller LAN installs


                    Let me add to that: the size (in # of users) is only a proxy for what will be demanded of the solution.  The nature of the user's interaction with the solution and the design of the solution is what is going to determine what resources you'll need in a server.


                    5 users just reading data from a 100 record table: Mac Mini can handle it

                    5 users doing searches on unstored calcs in a 2 million record table and using PSoS and server-side schedules at the same time: Mac Mini can't handle it.


                    So don't go just by the # of users.


                    And regardless of what server you pick, first thing to do is to enable the FMS stats log (it's off by default) so that you can start to collect a baseline of performance data.

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                    • 7. Re: Mac versus Windows (PC) for server

                      We have seen a noticeable decrease in performance when we moved from a MacPro4,1 ( 8-core Xeon processor, 12GB RAM ) to a MacPro6,1 ( 12-core Xeon, 64GB RAM ). Significant drop.  Same load ( same database files, same ~60 user load ). For now we have gone back to the MacPro4,1. Until we finish setting up the new Windows server that we installed in the rack.


                      I don't believe we were ever able to pinpoint the bottleneck ( simply not enough time in the day ). But our graphic artist has a sweet desktop now.

                      • 8. Re: Mac versus Windows (PC) for server

                        Hi Michael


                        You've received some good advice here, but so far nobody has highlighted the possible performance issues due to bandwidth that you could experience by moving to a hosted server.


                        I must emphasise we're very pro hosting and provide some specialist services ourselves, but depending on the complexity of your system, that I believe to date, has be used within a LAN you need to be sure you this will operate adequately over a WAN. If your data sets are not huge and you don't do a lot of sorts on high record numbers or replace field contents and your tables do not consist of lots of fields and complex relationships, then you should be OK.


                        We've just completed speed testing FileMaker Pro v15 running locally to FileMaker Server v15 on a hosted server for a forthcoming update to our web site. These tests were run alongside our steamed copies of FileMaker Pro v15 (Citrix/RemoteApp) connected to the same FMS v15 server, which run about the same speed as a LAN solution. The  tests were recorded for publishing videos, using fibre broadband and consisted of:


                        Navigating from and back to a layout to a dozen other layouts with a screen refresh each time:

                        Streaming - 3 seconds, FMP Local - 11 seconds


                        The following were all on 31415 records:


                        Sorting on a field local to the layout table:

                        Streaming - 3 seconds, FMP Local - 6 seconds


                        Sorting on a field linked via a 2 hop (join table) relationship to the layout table:

                        Streaming - 58 seconds, FMP Local - 14 minutes, 50 seconds (first run actually took over 20 minutes, but the screen saver cut in, so we had to retest for the video recording)


                        Replace field contents on field local to the layout table:

                        Streaming - 25 seconds, FMP Local - 7 minutes, 42 seconds


                        Script running on field local to the layout table, creating unique accounting codes:

                        Streaming - 1minute, 5 seconds, FMP Local 22 minutes, 44 seconds


                        The above is carried out on a version of our CRM framework, which is fairly complex.


                        You say you have 25 users, therefore productivity could be hit fairly hard if your system carries out on a large data set any of those tasks where the local copy of FileMaker is taking minutes rather than seconds.


                        PSOS (although we still have reservations about this) and WebDirect would help in some places, but it does mean some development work.


                        As a dyed in the wool Mac man, I've actually come to prefer FileMaker Server running on Windows, but the firewall will usually catch you out and security needs major attention, particularly if you are using a hosted virtual machine. All our servers have all non-essential services and firewall ports disabled - the event viewer goes ballistic when booting up! We don't use any standard ports for managing the server and all management connections require encryption. If you're not comfortable with Windows 2012 do seek advice, don't just throw a VM on the cloud and do the minimum configuration. Running a Windows hardware server locally on your network wouldn't require the same level of security, unless of course you're opening it up for remote working.


                        I hope this helps



                        • 9. Re: Mac versus Windows (PC) for server

                          Wow...this is a concern and odd why the newer MacPro is slower. What hardware configuration did you elect to procure for the Windows box? Are you going to use VM ESX?

                          • 10. Re: Mac versus Windows (PC) for server

                            laudmusic wrote:

                            Are you going to use VM ESX?


                            In your original post you asked about virtualization too.  FMS is completely certified to run in virtualized state.  The same decision points apply around assigning it enough resources.  The added consideration here then is that the physical host should be capable enough to handle it.  Especially if you want to run multiple VMs on the same host.


                            It is very common to try and minimize the virtual instance's specs to maximize the number of VM instances that can be run on one host so that is something to guard against.

                            • 11. Re: Mac versus Windows (PC) for server

                              Right. I agree. I was thinking of running two instances with FM deployed on each in a two system setup. One can run the WebDirect. I would allocate at least 4 cores and 8 gb of Ram to each.

                              • 12. Re: Mac versus Windows (PC) for server

                                My solution is pretty robust creative music system that manages our business. It preforms fairly well over WAN (server in NY and WAN users in LA and Nashville). I've looked into Amazon cloud and for our needs and storage (the audio, video, etc.) it would be very costly (inclusive of streaming the audio). Our linked audio storage is about 1 TB thus far.


                                Maybe I'm a control freak, but I like to have the hardware at my fingertips. And I would need complete control of the hardware.


                                I've heard stories that cloud would be slower for what my needs are. We have a 50/50 fiber in our NY office, so our throughput is pretty good. We are usually effected by all the hops the data takes when getting to and fro.


                                Until cloud hosting can provide exceptional speed, I'm going to stick with local hosting. This might go against all that have good experience thus far. I'm happy to test if some services gave a testing period.


                                Also, keeping our entire audio catalog in the cloud is an issue.

                                • 13. Re: Mac versus Windows (PC) for server

                                  Right now this server is being used as our dev server, but will be transitioned to our primary server likely in mid-August.


                                  Dell PowerEdge R730xd, CPU E502667 v3 @ 3.2GHz ( x 2 ), 64GB RAM.

                                  • 14. Re: Mac versus Windows (PC) for server

                                    Joshua Ormond wrote:

                                    E502667 v3


                                    That's pretty good.  Those are 8-core processors with Hyper-Threading so 16 virtual cores per processor.  With the two processors that's 32 cores that Windows sees.

                                    And at 3GHz you're getting good clock speed too.

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