For years, Worldcloud has offered 'virtual clients' which combined FileMaker Pro with Microsoft, Citrix, 2X, and other technologies. The reality is that these clients have been the only way to deliver a complex FileMaker solution to users accross the globe. Much of the description and architecture we discuss to prosepcts considering virtual clients is also true with WebDirect.
FileMaker Server typically moves a lot of data between FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Server. This is improved over the years, but every week we get users which have developed a solution locally and they are 'surprised' when they host and they get 'hourglasses'. Normally, I attempt to explain how FileMaker Pro often does much of the heavy lifting and FileMaker Server simply provides the data so that the calc engine, script engine, and rendering engines built into FileMaker Pro/Go can do their job. In light of the experaince represented on this site, I will not explain this 'chattyness' between Server and client, as many of you understand how 'traditional'/ port 5003 FileMaker traffic works.
In the case of our virtual clients, FileMaker Server sits on one machine and FileMaker Pro sit an another and since they are 'right next to each other' using a private local network, the communication between is awesomely fast; however, no one wants to stay in the datacenter to use their database, so we use 'other' technology to stream only the screen changes to the user. This method can be up to five times faster, it does not require the user to install FileMaker, and it is more secure (as the 'raw data' never has to travel on public bandwidth).
WebDirect, in many ways uses a similar architecture. Since there is no 'FileMaker Pro' on the users machine, all the sorts, calcs, etc. must be computed on the server, converted to HTML5 objects and streamed to the WebDirect client. Although we have had no more time than most of you to test, we have found that some solutions will operate faster through WebDirect than through FileMaker Pro. If you wish to 'test' this theory, design a sorted view as list layout or a sorted portal and import 100,000 records into the table and see which one sorts faster. Same is true if you added a 'SUM calc' to the table.
For many of you, this is the first time you have had access to this type of architecure in FileMaker. Certainly, good design and database optimization will alway reap benefits; but by having a 'lower cost' method to prevent large amounts of data from having to travel across a WAN can make it much easier to build FileMaker solutions which will perform well over 'real world' internet connections.
Since we are all new to FileMaker 13 WebDirect, I would certainly like to hear how many of your 'existing' solutions are performing. My guess is that solutions with lots of layout objects will be faster in Pro, and solutions with lots of records and calcs will be faster in WebDirect.