Hardware for development server / desktop machine

Discussion created by J_File on Aug 1, 2017
Latest reply on Sep 6, 2017 by wimdecorte



I have had a quick search for this topic on the forum and can't find anything specifically answering my question, so here goes.


Up to now, I have been developing an application using my single copy of FM16 Pro Advanced. Works very nicely, just a single file saved onto my laptop. I save it at regular intervals (as a new filename) as a pseudo backup process. My laptop also syncs to an online backup provider and every now and then I shove a copy on a memory stick. All very easy to manage.


I have recently been given the green light to sell my application to an organisation. They will have around 90 users. The plan will be to install FM16 Server onto a VM in a datacenter (rack space my client owns). They will own the server hardware, they will be responsible to disaster recovery and backups. I will own the IP to my application and periodically update it via a connection into their server. Again, all nice and easy so far.


As I am releasing the application in phases, the sensible option is going to be to go with the file separation model - still need to split the file out, but will do that in a couple of weeks or so. The plan will be to work on the next phase in the background without worrying about what the "live" version is doing. Once my next phase is ready (and I have fully tested it), I can then roll it out onto the server, replacing the User Interface file with the new one and taking the data file offline one weekend to replicate any new tables / fields in the data file. Again, I think this is quite an easy process and I am comfortable with this (well the theory behind it anyway!).


The long term future plan, once this first customer has been using the application for a good while to iron out any bugs, is to bring the application to the open market. It is built specifically for a very small industry in the UK (circa 400 users), so there are not many customers to go for, but once it is built, further sales are all pretty much profit. I want to be able to easily sell it to other companies, hence the file separation so I can have a single User Interface file that everyone would have, and then they each have their own data files. I am not foreseeing massive changes required once the product is finished and ready to market to other companies, so I see this as working quite nicely.


Rewind to the present, and I have just been accepted as an FBA member, so I can sell the FileMaker licences to my client easily. With this comes a free FileMaker Server Development Licence. So, my questions to all you rather knowledgable guys are:


1. I would imagine it is good practice to get this up and running and working on a development server, instead of continuing to work on the file/s on may MacBook Pro. Would you agree that this is the best way to work, as assume this is then replicating exactly how scripts and layouts are interacting on the live server version.


2. If the consensus to question 1 is to develop on a development server (bearing in mind the industry the app is designed for is very much windows based - so servers will be Windows Servers), would you recommend me getting a Windows server and installing FM16 server onto this, as opposed to just using an iMac / MacPro / Mac Mini?


3. If the answer to question 2 is to get a Windows server for my development server, does anyone know if you can run FM16 Server from a Synology NAS drive (I already have one of these you see). There will only be me using it, so not much power required! If not, what is the bare minimum spec I could get away with?


4. I actually need to buy a desktop computer at some point - we only have my laptop at home and the wife hates it if I have to go away with it! An extra 27" screen to go with my Dell 4K screen would also make developing easier. (I would prefer a Mac as love the operating system compared to Windows). I have been tempted to get an iMac or Mac Pro (ex demo - seen at a very good price). If the importance of a windows server is not that high for my development server, then I was thinking I could just run my development server off this instead. Keep it on, have a small UPS on it to prevent file corruption is server unexpectedly crashes). If the FM 16 Server software is pretty much identical for either a Windows or Mac OS operating system, I could save myself buying both a Windows server AND a desktop computer.


5. I guess the other option would be to take out an FM Cloud instance, with the smallest virtual machine and use that. I do, however, like the idea of hosting it in my own home (so long as I set up off-site backups), and if I am already buying a piece of hardware to use as a desktop computer (as per question 4), I would be saving some money as well.


What sage words do fellow forum members think on this?


Bear in mind, I have never seen FM Server running (with the exception of a brief play I had with FileMaker Cloud a few months back).


Thanks, James