1 2 3 Previous Next 34 Replies Latest reply on Oct 16, 2012 8:52 AM by rbarlow03

    Deploy on Win Server or Mac Server?

    CarlSchwarz

      This is a bit of a vague question, but I want to know what you - or filemaker recommends.

      Currently I'm hosting a very critical database on Win server 2003. Time to upgrade and my boss wants me to investigate using a Mac server.

       

      Mac servers (mac mini and mac pro) don't have dual redundant power supplies, hot swappable raid drives etc. so I am biassed toward a Win Server...

      I also thought I read somewhere that filemaker recommends installing FMServer on a windows server also.

       

      Please any thoughts? Thanks for your input.

        • 1. Re: Deploy on Win Server or Mac Server?
          CarlSchwarz

          Also note that I host some web pages, and connect to the DB using PHP.

          • 2. Re: Deploy on Win Server or Mac Server?
            ChrisG

            Hi Carl

             

            I have a client where we recently asked exacly the same question. The windows server beat the mac mini for the exact reasons you mentioned in your post. Dual redundant power supplies and hot swapable drives. This same windows server beat a mac pro server purely on the huge price difference. I have another client who is running FM server on a cheap pc with Windows small business server 2003 in a 30 user environment. It has been running trouble free for 5 years now, and performance wise this low spec machine has been OK. We do however make daily back-ups. Just in case.

             

            kind regards

             

            Chris G

            • 3. Re: Deploy on Win Server or Mac Server?
              datastride

              Carl,

               

              I'm been hosting FileMaker Server on Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 for years now, with seldom even a hiccup. On these platforms, FMS just runs smoothly and reliably. Excellent performance on very inexpensive hardware. Lots of choices for fast RAID solutions at very reasonable prices. No problems due to Java updates ...

               

              Color me a very satisfied Windows Server customer ...

               

              Peace, love & brown rice,

              Morgan Jones

               

              FileMaker + Web:  Design, Develop & Deploy

              Certifications: FileMaker 9, 10 & 11

              One Part Harmony 

              Austin, Texas • USA

              512-422-0611

              • 4. Re: Deploy on Win Server or Mac Server?
                datastride

                Carl,

                 

                I might add that probably the most important reason to choose a particular server OS is one's familiarity with the platform. If you have expertise managing a Windows Server environment, then you should probably go with that choice. If you are more comfortable managing a Mac server, then you should probably go with Mac. Either platform will do the job, but your own expertise in configuring, securing, and administering the server environment will determine overall success or failure.

                 

                Peace, love & brown rice,

                Morgan Jones

                 

                FileMaker + Web:  Design, Develop & Deploy

                Certifications: FileMaker 9, 10 & 11

                One Part Harmony 

                Austin, Texas • USA

                512-422-0611

                • 5. Re: Deploy on Win Server or Mac Server?
                  CarstenLevin

                  The two countries in the world who have been at war for the longest period is Denmark and Sweden. At the same time for the last nearly 200 years (but not more) those two countries have been among the closest brother/sister countries in the world. At times nearly entering into being one country with one government and one currency.

                   

                  Therefore I do not want to enter into a Windows/Mac feud. The time must have passed for that kind of warfare for a long time ago.

                   

                  But we are supporting a pretty large number of setups with Windows Server 2003, 2008 and Mac OS X. Most probably on Windows.

                   

                  But I would like to give a proposal for a Mac setup - here with Mac mini's:

                  • Buy one Mac mini Server with two internal disks running RAID 1 (absolutely 1 not 0) and 8 GB of RAM. Attach one external disk (firewire 800). Run backups to this external disk at reasonably short intervals. Make sure to have some script transferring webfoldes with php/html and other data to the external backupdisk.
                  • Have your FMS install images ready and you can install a new filemaker server within less than half an hour!!!! or have another one already installed and ready.

                   

                  But I also need some more information before giving my final arguments:

                  • How many users on your local network with FileMaker Clients?
                  • How many users on external networks with FileMaker clients?
                  • Are you using Terminal Server, VM Ware or Citrix and for which parts of the FileMaker system?
                  • How "heavy"/demandingare the FileMaker solutions?
                  • How many web-users at the same time?
                  • How heavy/complicated are the web-interfaces?

                   

                  The answers may cause me to suggest another mac, an extra mac for Web Publishing Engine or .... lets see. I may also suggest not to use harddisks but SSD, but I definetely need to know more before saying anything specific.

                   

                  Some general arguments for Mac:

                  • Still much safer out of the box.
                  • Faster to install and much easier to maintain.
                  • Very stable server class Unix system.
                  • Very easy UI.

                   

                  There are some good arguments against using Mac mini's as a server. Most of them hardware related. But lets wait until we know a little bit more about the load.

                  • 6. Re: Deploy on Win Server or Mac Server?
                    Stephen Huston

                    And regardless of which OS you choose, pay the bit extra to use Solid State Drives (SSDs). That reduced our systemside backup from 11 minutes to 11 seconds!

                     

                    Which allowed us to run hourly backups again, instead of less frequently to minimize user slowdowns, and that's the whole point of backup, toe have the best and most recent fall-back position possible.

                    • 7. Re: Deploy on Win Server or Mac Server?
                      ptrc

                      For us there is consideration more as how users/administrators are going to connect. As an example we run 5 filemaker servers. 3 of them are Windows Server 2003 and 2 of them are Apple; both run really well without any issues until very recently where we were unable to remotely connect into it. It is a stand alone server not connected to our internal network we serve files both in IWP and client. Our remote administration tools failed and caused a bit of a headache. I soon realized that it was the Apple Server that was conflicting with our remote management and now plans are underway to convert to a Windows Server. Of course it depends highly on what you are comfortable using and I would highly suggest that you follow that.

                      • 8. Re: Deploy on Win Server or Mac Server?
                        CarstenLevin

                        Do not get angry at me, but as I see it we are asking to few questions regarding the demands and the solution, and are jumping to conclusions.

                        Am I wrong

                        • 9. Re: Deploy on Win Server or Mac Server?
                          ptrc

                          I completely agree; there is much more to consider with servers than just the OS, but not a bad start. Once you determine what OS one may run, next would be the hardware and that opens a plethora of questions and considerations. But the initial question was Apple vs Windows and really that is a personal choice.

                          • 10. Re: Deploy on Win Server or Mac Server?
                            CarstenLevin

                            Sorry, I would start with the solution, the demands of the solution and the business it is going to support. Then I would look at the ressourses and the qualifications of the internal and external  IT people involved. And then I will consider OS and hardware.

                             

                            That is why I am asking all the questions about the solution. And now some extra questions:

                            • Do you expect to use Active Directory.
                            • Will the solution be operated within a VPN or accessed publicly?
                            • etc.

                             

                            The more information, the better the answers

                            • 11. Re: Deploy on Win Server or Mac Server?
                              worldcloud

                              Apple has walked away for the server market. They discontinued their servers and there is little reason to belive that OS support for the 'server' editions will get much attention in the future. We have also found that the Windows servers perfrom better on the same equipment than the MacOS based machines. Among the xServers we have left, most are running Server 2008.

                               

                              The hardware advantages have already been mentioned above, but the issue that no one has mentioned is that Server monitoring software, VPN software, snapshot-backup software, and RemoteApp support is far superior on the Windows side. Basically because much of this software does not exist on the Mac side. If my server fails, I want it to send me a SMS text message and let me know. I can do that with a Windows machine and I can not with a Mac.

                               

                              I would also look using vmWare ESXi on your server.... My using ESXi, you can rapid move your server to different hardware without changing the IP addresses, drivers, or anything else. This will give you for more options to 'adjust' in the future. Ideally, you would add multiple machines together and share a drive system so that it one server fails, then the other can take over automatically without admin intervention.

                               

                              There is not such a thing a server which will never fail, so our aurgument is that you should be building towards a 'cluster' of machines with no single point of failiure, so when something happens, it does not interupt the users or create an emergency.

                               

                               

                              If the cost of a cluster is too high, then you can 'rent' a machine in the cloud with these protections; just make sure that your cloud provider uses High Availability, as not all cloud vendors offer this level of protection...

                              • 12. Re: Deploy on Win Server or Mac Server?
                                GordonShewach

                                There was a time when I recommended to all my clients, Mac and Windows users, that a Windows server box for FileMaker Server was the most cost-effective way to get an industrial strength set up with lots of powerful drives in 1 or more RAIDs. But with SSDs that can go internal or external and the Thunderbolt port on Mac for external RAIDs, that cost advantage on the Windows side has disappeared. From my experience the Windows Server OSes and the Mac OS are highly stable and will just run and run and run. And FMS running on either platform should be highly stable.

                                 

                                I agree with many of the others who mentioned familiarity with the OS being a key. Whether I pick Windows or Mac, I'm going to get a server that's HIGHLY stable and that I need to babysit very, very seldom. I'm comfortable with either so I'm going to recommend for my client the platform they're most comfortable with. In an emergency if I'm not available and the client has to do some fiddling him/herself, my Windows clients would prefer a Windows server and my Mac clients would prefer a Mac server.

                                 

                                I also echo the sentiments of those suggesting SSDs. I did extensive testing on 4 SSDs in a variety of RAID configurations and found that the best combination of performance, reliability, and value was 2 SSDs in a RAID 1.

                                 

                                Gordon Shewach

                                Desktop Services

                                Ann Arbor, MI

                                • 13. Re: Deploy on Win Server or Mac Server?
                                  worldcloud

                                  So just because you can get fast drive access with a Mac Mini, you overlook the single power supply, the non-Xeon processor, the narrow datapaths to the memory (laptop memory), or the ability to place it on multiple physical networks for redundency? What happens when the Thunderbolt connector dies, will any other system just 'see' that 'half RAID-1' set and allow you to mount it. RAID controllers seem to be very particular, and in your case you are talking about a software based RAID as the Mac Mini has no option for a hardware based RAID controller.

                                   

                                  I like SSD drives, but in out testing with FileMaker Server 11, (6) 15K SAS drives perfromed at the same level and yeilded more drive space for less money. The drive system is just one part of the equation and to imply that SSD are not as fast on a Windows machine as a Mac is flawed. The addition of SSD drives does not give either machine an advantage as they both support these drives....

                                  • 14. Re: Deploy on Win Server or Mac Server?
                                    GordonShewach

                                    Worldcloud,

                                     

                                    You misunderstand my points.

                                     

                                    1) I never said Mac Mini. And I would never compare a Mac Mini to a Dell Poweredge. There are 3 different levels of Macs that offer different levels of speed and reliability to users. A small office with a few occasional users can consider a Mac Mini. A large office with heavy-duty users should be buying a high-end Mac or Windows box.

                                     

                                    2) I never said or implied that "SSDs are not as fast on a Windows machine." What I said was that the cost advantage of the Windows box has disappeared. Before SSDs I needed a RAID of several 15K SAS drives for optimal performance. Configuring this on Mac was thousands of dollars more expensive than the same on a Windows box. Now with SSDs in a RAID I can equip a Windows or Mac box for similar costs.

                                     

                                    Gordon Shewach

                                    Desktop Services

                                    Ann Arbor, MI

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