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iMac Pro and FMS 16

Question asked by taylorsharpe on Feb 12, 2018
Latest reply on Feb 15, 2018 by taylorsharpe

I have a client with a Windows 2008 R2 Standard (SP1) Server with 24 Gigs RAM, Xeon E5-2407 2.2Ghz, and SAS drives that is about 5-6 years old and was performing poorly with FMS 16.0.3.  They wanted to know what to do to get better performance.  Of course one of the main things was to get the storage to be some type of SSD plus get some new Xeon processors.  The system has about 477 GBs of data and tables over 1MM records to backup and backups literally were taking up to 20 hours to do, meaning most of the day the system as having to perform while a backup was going on.  The IT support people wanted to put a new Windows 2016 Server all spec'd out.  But this past year they had been twice owned by ransomware.  So I recommended going with an iMac Pro which has a lower threat vulnerability to ransomware and because it supposedly was a real scream of a machine with the latest Xeon processors and flash storage. 


Over the weekend I installed the new iMac Pro (10 cores, 32GB ram, 3GHz Xeon W, Radeon Pro Vega 56, and 2 TB flash storage, OS X 10.13.3).  Copying the files via SMB to the Mac proved problematic and the Finder does this ridiculous preparing data process that either took forever or would crap out.  So I went command line (cp -r -v) and it all copied across just fine, well, after quite a few hours - haha.  


I installed FMS 16.0.4, turned off Spotlight, turned off Time Machine, changed Power Settings to not go to sleep, etc.  Oh, and unlike on the Windows Server, I EAR'd all of the files for better security (e.g., since they have been owned by ransomware in the past).  Last I installed the SSL certificate 4 times (GoDaddy)... all doing it the exact same way, and it eventually just worked.  Always frustrating that it seems to strangely not work when I've done many of these and know how to do it.  Maybe something FMI can make easier down the road. 


We went live with the new server today (Monday morning) to great success.  Since we had been running nightly scripts 3 of which were running often 10-15 hours each day and the backups were taking up to 20 hours, we wanted to see vast improvements on the new server.  The new iMac Pro came through.  First of all, the backups to the same local storage went much faster than the backups on the Windows local storage probably because the fast SSDs are much faster than SAS drives.  The iMac Pro did its first backup of the databases in 12 minutes!!!!  And later in the day we did a 2nd backup and it completed in 5 minutes!  OK, that completely solves backup problems.  We did attach a slow spinning USB-2 drive to backup externally and it took an hour and 15 minutes, but still much faster than 20 hours!  The Schedule scripts that were taking 10-15 hours, all ran most in about half an hour and the longer ones 1-2 hours. 


Needless to say finishing backups and schedule scripts before end users log in on the morning meant performance would be a lot better.  Even with the new server doing EAR encryption, it is much faster than before for users.  FYI, they make a lot of use of the database via FM Go in the field including submitting pictures and collecting signatures (hence the large size of their database). 


The iMac Pro really is a screamer.  It is not really designed as a server because it has a 5K monitor that now sits in a closet with the door shut (so sad I can't take it off).  But it does have the latest Xeon processors and fast storage/ram/cache and a cost of a little over $7,000. 


Other than this iMac Pro server I've installed at this client, this is an all Windows shop.  But it sure is a nice solution for them and I have to say, I'm very impressed with the performance of the iMac Pro and so far they are very pleased. 


I'm more impressed with the iMac Pro than I even thought I would be, especially in regards to serving FileMaker server databases.