1 2 Previous Next 19 Replies Latest reply on Aug 9, 2017 4:22 AM by J_File

    Hardware for development server / desktop machine

    J_File

      Hi,

       

      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

        • 1. Re: Hardware for development server / desktop machine
          FileKraft

          1. yes develop on server and have a fine tuned backup schedule in place - keep all backups that you can go back if you run into speed issues or corruption etc.

           

          2. strongly recommend Windows Server 2012 or 2016 - also better hardware available.

           

          3. all specs read the FMS16 requirements - cannot answer NAS though

           

          4. if your user base is mainly windows - develop on windows or test frequently on windows

           

          5. FM Cloud is amazing - if you don't need scheduled server scripts then go for it - or wait until FMCloud 16 is out ..

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          • 2. Re: Hardware for development server / desktop machine
            J_File

            Thanks FileKraft.

             

            I do like developing on the mac, but a quick boot into bootcamp means I can check how its looking.

             

            One thing I didn't;t suggest as an option (and I have been doing a bit of digging around in the last 30 minutes) is just getting a hosting company to do all the dirty work of hosting it for me. FMPHost have servers in the UK. Any downsides to this?

             

            If I knew that I was going to be offline for a few days, and wanted to do some offline work on my application, can you just take it off the development server, mess around with it and then upload it again. Apologies for the basic questions, have no experience with FileMaker and Servers.

            • 3. Re: Hardware for development server / desktop machine
              FileKraft

              J_File wrote:

               

               

               

              One thing I didn't;t suggest as an option (and I have been doing a bit of digging around in the last 30 minutes) is just getting a hosting company to do all the dirty work of hosting it for me. FMPHost have servers in the UK. Any downsides to this?

               

              If I knew that I was going to be offline for a few days, and wanted to do some offline work on my application, can you just take it off the development server, mess around with it and then upload it again. Apologies for the basic questions, have no experience with FileMaker and Servers.

              nothing wrong with hosting if you pick a solid host.

              in your case if you want to develop off line you need then access to the server in a way that you can download and re-upload the file.

              Ideally actually you would develop locally and when tested and solid apply the changes to the server file. Better then swapping all the time because the quality of the file just applying verified changes is better then trial&error development with multiple undos/redos on a file permanently under reconstruction.

               

              That is IMHO the ideal workflow for development I have in place if using an environment as you described.

              • 4. Re: Hardware for development server / desktop machine
                J_File

                Thanks.

                 

                I think developing locally sounds logical, and then testing on the server after happy with the updates on the local file. Not quite understanding the logic on then applying the said updates to the server file. That would mean copying the updates into the server file. Surely just better off uploading the local file back up the server for testing - that way you are sure that it is correctly working?

                 

                J

                • 5. Re: Hardware for development server / desktop machine
                  FileKraft

                  the problem with developing locally is if it crashes then the file will be recovered on next opening and that is not best practice going forward.

                   

                  under all circumstances evade that - your file can get undetected corruption and later on requires a rewrite. Since you want to sell the file it should be kept pristine. If you develop on the server and FMP crashes then the file is still up and running and most likely not damaged by the crash.

                  • 6. Re: Hardware for development server / desktop machine
                    wimdecorte

                    J_File wrote:

                    does anyone know if you can run FM16 Server from a Synology NAS drive (I already have one of these you see).

                     

                    NAS is a no-no.  SANs are OK.

                     

                    FileMaker Server needs extremely fast disk i/o and any network-for-disk i/o is just not going to cut it.  Too slow, too fragile.

                    • 7. Re: Hardware for development server / desktop machine
                      wimdecorte

                      J_File wrote:

                       

                      Hi,

                       

                      opposed to just using an iMac / MacPro / Mac Mini?

                       

                      For your dev server, sure.  I would recommend a separate machine than your actual work machine.  That way you'll have an FMS deployment that is more stable and can do more without interfering with your own work.

                      • 8. Re: Hardware for development server / desktop machine
                        J_File

                        Sorry. Just to resurrect this.

                         

                        For my dev server would would I be ok with a Mac mini dual core with 8Gb and 256 SSD be ok? It would only be me using it.

                         

                        Thanks

                         

                        J

                        • 9. Re: Hardware for development server / desktop machine
                          FileKraft

                          that is plenty of power for a development machine -  be sure to run latest OS updates as well as FMS and keep all backups in case you need to roll-back or corruption happens and you need a clean and stable file to go back to.

                          • 11. Re: Hardware for development server / desktop machine
                            J_File

                            FK.

                             

                            Should I be looking at a cheap UPS. Does FM server software recognise if power is lost and when the UPS then kicks in? Will OSX then automatically shut the system down softly?

                             

                            Sorry for my complete lack of knowledge on this.

                             

                            J

                            • 12. Re: Hardware for development server / desktop machine
                              wimdecorte

                              FMS does not recognize that the machine went on backup power, but OSX will and it can shut down the machine after being on x minutes of backup power (you typically want that pretty soon, say after 5 minutes or so.  Cheap UPSes don't deliver more than 10 minutes of available power depending on how much you attach to it).

                               

                              Good UPSes have their own software that allow you to run OS-level scripts at certain events. That's what you'd typically use to issue an 'fmsadmin' CLI command to close the files.

                              • 13. Re: Hardware for development server / desktop machine
                                J_File

                                Thanks Wim.

                                 

                                When I say cheap - I suppose 'cheap' is relative!

                                 

                                Thinking this:

                                 

                                APC Back-UPS 700 Watt / 1400 VA, 230V, AVR, IEC Sockets - BX1400UI - Ebuyer

                                 

                                Looking at user comments, seems this would provide plenty of backup time. I know that APC are a good make as well - we had a more expensive one attached to an internal server at a previous place I worked.

                                 

                                J

                                • 14. Re: Hardware for development server / desktop machine
                                  wimdecorte

                                  Try not rely on the UPS to make the FMS stay up long enough to survive the power outage.  The main purpose is to give yourself enough time to gracefully close the files.

                                   

                                  Obviously if you have short power outages (lasting a minute or so or less) then you can let the UPS just deliver power.  But anything over that iMHO is when you want to configure the UPS software to close the files.

                                   

                                  Remember that typically clients and network gear (switches,...) are not on UPS so when the power goes out, FMS loses contact with them and those clients become 'ghost' sessions.  It usually takes FMS about 2 minutes to give up on them.  So by the time you decide to close the files it may take a few minutes to do so.  Take that into account for when you configure the UPS to start doing that; you don't want it to run out of juice before then.

                                   

                                  UPS batteries degrade over time so set your timing conservatively.

                                   

                                  As to the UPS model: I prefer one with a display that shows how much power is consumed by what is hooked up to it and its projected time estimate when on battery.

                                   

                                  I use the XS 1300 from APC currently.  A nice set of power protected outlets at the back.

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