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I.T. wants us to move Filemaker Server from local Mac to corporate PC

Question asked by wendy on Nov 27, 2017
Latest reply on Aug 15, 2018 by ggt667

Hello everyone. I am hoping for input from experts regarding switching our local Mac FMS to a PC supported by our corporate I.T. department. I'm not, in general, opposed to a PC for our server; it is I.T. involvement and complexity that has me uneasy. This is a huge corporation with an offsite help desk, and two (overworked) local people. (They're also pushing our entire Art Department to move out of Macs, claiming we're a security risk, and that to "correctly" support us would cost $300,000. But that's another story.) It may end up that we don't have a choice regarding the FMS; in that event, I want to be as prepared as possible to guide this change as much as possible.

 

Sorry to be so wordy.

 

What we have:

  • FMS 15, about 30 Pro 15.0.4 clients  ("old-fashioned" Volume license), and two Advanced clients. We have not moved to FM16 as we've been waiting on the hardware question.
  • Current clients include Macs and PCs. I handle admin. (Local I.T. has assisted with client PC installations.)
  • The 2010 iMac we use as a Filemaker Server in our Art Department is getting old and has crashed seven times in 2017 (the Mac is restarting itself and shows an error message that the computer restarted because of a problem. Doesn't appear to be directly a FMS problem).
  • We always re-serve a backup, never crashed files.
  • This is a mission-critical database, and I run two hourly backups on the half hour, plus additional backups throughout the day, to both the local drive and an external drive, and each evening we upload an off-site backup. I keep long-term backups also, in case of any glitch that takes a while to show up.
  • We have a UPS that is working smoothly with the Mac OS to close database files before shutting down the Mac in the event there is a power outage while no one is here.
  • I regularly access copies of backups while doing admin testing and programming experimentation, and run "as needed" backups before key work.
  • Prior to their response (below), I communicated these concerns:
    • Our actively served files Must Not Be Touched by corporate backup systems or virus protection.
    • Updates (software and OS) must be tested before deployment.
    • We need a battery backup that ensures proper shutdown in case of a power outage, and
    • Crashes need to be investigated by a trained operator who will investigate and serve the most recent healthy backup.

 

Here is the subsequent response from the designated [offsite] I.T. person:

I did some research on the FileMaker website and I agree with "John" [offsite IT Director] that this is an opportune time to move FileMaker off of the Mac desktop and onto a Windows server.  We would need to validate if there are sufficient server resources in [local location] to host the FileMaker virtual server.  If not we can see if we can add or potentially host from the [corporate] Data Center.  

 

There are several options that exist including Citrix but we will need to have a meeting to discuss the requirements and then finalize on a design.

  1. 1. How many total people use FileMaker?
  2. 2. How is FileMaker licensed, are licenses shared and/or distributed from a License Service?
  3. 3. Do you have maintenance on the licenses and entitled to the latest version?
  4. 4. Do you have a support contract with FileMaker or a VAR?
  5. 5. Who is the Subject Matter Expert?
    • We typically do not install server applications and rely on the SME or VAR to do the actual installation and configuration.

We can determine what is best backup strategy but as long as FileMaker is creating a backup file it will be captured with the normal system backup and the active database can be excluded. Access to the FileMaker Administrator Console is web based so this will not be an issue using either a PC or a Mac.  Whatever location will host the FileMaker server it will be on UPS power. OS patching and/or application patching would require testing but we provide a Dev environment or a process in which we clone the server first.  If there are issues after patching we would revert to the clone.

 

This "hey I did some research and here's what we can do" reply threw me; I had expected discussion about a local PC that would "simply" replace our Mac. It sounds like we're replacing a simple setup that works--except for an old Mac--with complexity (Citrix? Cloned server?) and potential for misunderstanding.  So... how do I dance this dance with I.T.? What should I push back on to try and keep us out of trouble?

 

Thanks to all who may respond.

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