11 Replies Latest reply on Jan 17, 2014 10:46 AM by worldcloud

    Windows Server 2012 compared to Server 2008R2 as a FileMaker Server

    worldcloud

      I will avoid contrasting MacOS X into this conversation because that is an 'old' argument which does not appear to have changed significantly with FileMaker Server 13; however, FileMaker Server 13 is the first version of FileMaker Server to be certidfied for Server 2012. Many of you realize that FileMaker Server 12 was not certified and had issues with correctly configuing the Web Publishing engine, so this is the first time that we can consider Microsoft Server 2012 for a prodction server.

       

      I will go ahead and 'spill the beans' and state that we have been testing with Server 2012 and are very excited about being about to utilize Microsoft's first 'cloud-entric' version of Windows Server. The reason that we are posting is that none of us have much experaince with FileMaker Server 13 and Server 2012, so we wanted to share our experainces and get feedback and comments.

       

      For those who know me, I tend to jump from topic to topic, so I will attempt to organize my thoughts my 'resource type' below:

       

      Drive Space

       

      Our FileMaker 12/ Server 2008R2 systems typically go into deployment with almost 15GB of used drive space, before our clients upload the first FileMaker database or establish backups. In Windows Server 2003, most any change in configuration required the installation media and Microsoft was rebuked for this practice. In Server 2008, they took the oppsoite tack. All the CAB files to install any of the Server roles are installed with every installation. If an admin delete these files, Windows see a 'corrupted' installation- although these files where not in use.

       

      In Server 2012, these files can be removed. Should an admin wish to add one of these roles or features then insteading of using local CAB files, Server 2012 has the ability to connect to media or use Windows Update to supply these resources. The results from our initial testing is that we can get the 'footprint' of a FileMaker Server 13 down to about 4GB of hard drive space. We offer SSD drives in most of our datacenters through Storage Area Networks, which results in expensive drive space. Saving over 10GBs of space per server with very little 'downside' is positive thing.

       

      Drives mapped as Folders

       

      Most of our SANs have multilpe shevles of drives, and in most cases we have different types of drives in each SAN: SSD, 15K SAS, 10K SAS, and SATA drives. Now that FileMaker 13 gives use the ability to map 'external Containers' to a separate folder, it is easier for us to configure a system which uses SSD drives for FileMaker data and SATA for container data. Our initial testing shows us that having container on SSD provides little performance benefit; however, allowing Container data to reside on SATA drives (still RAID-6) saves money, as SSD space is roughly four times more expensive as SSD. This could be done manually on a limited basis with Server 2008, but now we can support this feature 'server-wide'.

       

      Although not new improved for FileMaker 13, we also use SATA drives mapped as folders for backups. This allows us to utilize default FileMaker file paths while utilizing the most appropiate drives while also separating production files and backups to different drive systems for improved protection.

       

      Command-Line Interface

       

      Windows Server 2008 introduced a command line interface which basically made a server look like a Linux server. The only problem is that if you installed this 'interface-less' version, the admin had to set all the settings via PowerShell or the command line. Launching something like the Java Admin Console was not possible, nor where several other common Windows resources.

       

      New for Windows Server 2012 is the ability to turn the GUI interface on or off; there is also a 'limited' interface mode; so we can test and configure a server with all the tools we are use to and then 'turn off' the GUI interface. This allows more of the system resources for FileMaker Server, and it significantly improves security as many exploits are based on the user interfaces. Likewise, many of the Windows updates which require restarts are the one's which have interface associated with them, so the command line mode reduces the restarts requires for system updates.

       

      Unified Management

       

      Most users read the 'command-line only' option and jsut can't imagine not having a GUI; however, new in Server 2012 is a 'dashboard' which will allow a single Server 2012 to control other Server 2012 machines, so for most operations, you can have the GUI installed only on one server and allow the others to run in a more stable, more effecicent configuration. The new daskboard also allows an admin to setup there own alerts. One of the issues that our users have is that they complete fill there drive space and FileMaker Server shuts down. Now it is very simple to create an alert which constantly monitors all the other FileMaker Servers and provides a warning.

       

      The default alerts are useful to see if a machine generates an error, as 'no one' that we know every parses server log entries looking for minor issues. Most admins don't look until a problem presents itself. Comparing to Server 2008, there where many tools to faciliate similar functionality, including Microsofr System Center; however, most FileMaker Server admins where not looking for these 'enterprise-level' tools. Now we have a very simple way to manage groups of servers.

       

      RDP

       

      For years Citrix owned the 'terminal services' market, but with each new version of Windows Server, Microsoft has closed the gap. Server 2012 includes a new version of the RDP protocol which is about 20% faster than 2008R2. We have not compared this performance directly with the new XenApp, but it is getting very close and the Microsoft solution costs about half of what Citirx charges. Windows 7 & 8, MacOS X, iOS, and Android users are all capable of utilizing these improved services with 'free' clients.

       

      Windows 8 also has the ability share RemoteApp connections in a new app, making it easier for 'notive' users to utilize this technology.

       

      Essentails (formerally Small Business Server)

       

      In 2008, Microsoft offered a version for small businesses; however, these services largely assume that all the users where on the same network or LAN. Server 2012 Essentials offers many of these same services in a more 'cloud-like' architecture, so setting up a FileMaker Server which also acts as a company file server, update server, secuirty server, backup server for desktops/ laptops, etc. is now a very practical and inexpensive option. Large companies typically dedicate dedicated to each of these services, but for small companies the cost of multilpe system is just not practical.

       

      PowerShell 3.0

       

      Although Apple has not significantly enhanced AppleScript in years. Microsoft added 1,600 cmdlets for PowerShell 3, compared to PowerShell 2 which shipped with 2008. All the 'dashboards' in Server 2012 utilize PowerShell on the backend, so just like looking at HTML, a developer can easilty 'see' the code required to perform almost any Windows operation. The are also PowerShell libraries to add all kinds of other functionality. Microsoft seems to be very committed to this technology, therefore many Microsoft software developers are also creating there own PowerShell CLIs.

       

      As FileMaker developers, this means that we can use FileMaker to create and/or trigger a PowerShell script and control the operating system and/or many popular Windows applications. It is doubtful that Microsoft will ever create a FileMaker plug-in, nor Citrix, nor vnWare; but through PowerShell 3.0 FileMaker can control these environments.

       

      Others

       

      There are huge improvements in Hyper-V, Storage Server, and other features which go beyond the discussion of FileMaker Server, but are very committed towards utilizing these two technologies together. For those who are causious of 'new' software. Server 2012 is almost two years old and last summer the R2 versions where released with many improvements, including the return of the Start menu.

       

       

       

       

       

      Closing....

       

      I'm guessing that many of you which have gotten this far have any doubt that we are becoming fans of 2012 compared to 2008 or 2008R2. One of the reasons that we are posting is that as we test FileMaker with Server 2012, we keep discovering things and/or running into issues. Since this combination is so new, there are very few resources to address these challenges. We would like to encourage other TechNet members to test Server 2012 (for the reasons stated above) and share you comments here.

       

      Additionally, as you have questions in your own deployments; we are happy to share knowledge. The more FileMaker Server installations utilize Server 2012, the easier it should become to find answers to many our questions...

       

      Lastly, Microsoft's annual non-developer conference is called TechEd. About half of the TechEd 2013 sessions from New Orleans are included as videos on the Microsoft Ch9 website. This is one of the better (free) resources we have found. Specifically, the session on removing un-used CAB resources mentioned above is posted on that site. Microsoft also has a 90 day trial version of their Server products, so that you can 'kick the tires' prior to investing 'real money' into a new technology. Alternately, all FileMaker 13 Worldcloud servers will run Server 2012, so you can always allow Worldcloud to provide you with your own Windoes Server 2012 environment.

        • 1. Re: Windows Server 2012 compared to Server 2008R2 as a FileMaker Server
          NickLightbody

          Hi - we deployed a client with FMS12 running on MSServer 2012 in April 2013 and had only one issue which disappeared with updates - FMI did say we were on our own with this but we wanted to be ready to move this client into the next version of FMS when it arrived since we were confident that this would be certified on MSS2012.

          So we are confident in MSS2012 running FMS12 happily but haven't yet tried FMS13 on this actual server.

          Cheers, Nick

          • 2. Re: Windows Server 2012 compared to Server 2008R2 as a FileMaker Server
            worldcloud

            We didn't have an issue installing FileMaker Server 12 on Server 2012, we had issues deploying the Web Publishing Engine on it. We have several clients which also utilized this combo without web publishing. If you where able to get past the WPE issues, I would be curious to know which specific version on Server 2012 you where using.

             

            In the past, the specific versions where a 'feature bundling' issue, but with the ETS versions of FileMaker 13, we found that they where very touchy of which vaiants it would install. We are happy to see that the guys at the Wedge seemed to have addressed these issues in the shipping version of FMS13. Since our FMS12 testing was prior to the time, I'm wondering if the specific version (Datacenter) may have been part of our issue.

            • 3. Re: Windows Server 2012 compared to Server 2008R2 as a FileMaker Server
              LSNOVER

              worldcloud:

               

              What kind of management features for Terminal Server is built in?  I.e. is there a Web page for users to log into and get quick access to certain applications (ie. applicaiton shareing, not desktop sharing)?  Are there provisions for Terminal Server pools for load balancing built in?

               

              We've been using a product called ProPalms for many years.  It's similar to Citrix, but much less expensive.  That said, it is a significant costs on top of Terminal Server.   If I could eliminate the Propalms layer, that would be a genuine savings in costs and complexity.

               

              Have you seen any performance differences in Filemaker hosting speeds between 2008 R2 and 2012? 

               

              Thanks for the informitive post and for sharing your experience.   I'm in the process of setting up two new dedicated servers for Filemaker 13, and could go either way.   Have you done any testing of WebDirect in 2008 and 2012? 

               

              Thanks again,

              Lee

              • 4. Re: Windows Server 2012 compared to Server 2008R2 as a FileMaker Server
                worldcloud

                We have used Ericom, Citrix, 2X, and several others. I have not tried ProPalm, but with one exception (vmWare Horizon Suite); all the technologies which use Windows Server simply sit on 'top' of the Microsoft fucntionality. Ten years ago, Microsoft product was very weak and these companies (like Citrix) made a ton of money to finish feature which Microsoft was not offering.

                 

                For Server 2008, Terminal Services was renamed to Remote Desktop Servcies. In R2, those features (finally) where production ready without having to have 'third-party' enhancements for prinitng, drive sharing, speed optimiazations, etc. We have more users utilizing Microsoft Remote Desktop Services RemoteApp with FileMaker than any other 'virtual client' technology we offer. One of the reasons is that it the least expensive option and for FileMaker users, the comparision between these options has become very similar.

                 

                Microsoft is not unlike FileMaker, they typically have a 'big feature' for each version. Server 2008, was not a huge jump in Server technology. Many people complained that it was too similar to Server 2003. The main focus for 2008 was Remote Desktop Services.

                 

                Server 2012 was the first 'architecture' change for Microsoft Server in 9 nine years, hence we are excited to be able to utilize it for our FileMaker Servers.

                Remote Desktop Services (which inlcudes RemoteApp) has a new protocal which 'looks' at the screen it is about to send over the network and divides the 'objects' by type: bitmaps, type, and vector art. The result is that text is much faster. Images now offer 'progressive' loading, just like most web browsers. Video proformance is also greatly improved. The only issue is that if you are using Windows XP, there is no way to get the improved speed- it compatiable, just without the speed enhancements.

                 

                Microsoft has released newer clients for Win 7/8, MacOS, iOS, and Android. You can pool your 'worker' machines into a pool and there are several load balancing options. I don't feel much difference on my 'normal' machine but on my iPad with a cellualr connection, the new RDP responds better.

                 

                if you would like to test a virtual client using RemoteApp, please let me know and I can give you a trial account...

                • 5. Re: Windows Server 2012 compared to Server 2008R2 as a FileMaker Server
                  smower

                  Thanks for the helpful info. We are considering upgrading to FileMaker 13.  We use FileMaker Server 11 on SBS Windows 2008.  It was very painful and difficult to set up and we had to do a lot of tweaks to get it to work properly probably because of the Microsoft's annoying security setups that love to block my applications.  

                   

                  Anyway, I was wondering would Windows 7 run FileMaker Server 13 any faster than Windows Server 2008?  I am wondering if Windows 7 is a lighter install and I assume it would be easier to set up server 13 on?  Aside from Remote Desktop - does Windows Server 2012 run FileMaker 13 server faster than Windows server 2008 or is 2008 faster for FileMaker Server and by how much.

                   

                  Have you seen a difference in speed with ESS Odbc databases with Server 13 from Server 11.  When I tried Standalone FileMaker Advanced trial software 13 odbc vs FileMaker Advanced 11 odbc standalone database it seemed like 13 was 2-3 times slower.  I think that was using 32 bit odbc drivers for both.  Does Server 13 support 64 bit odbc and what kind of speed differences does it make?

                   

                  Do you have any recommendations where to get a powerful FileMaker 13 Server computer from that won't drain my pocket book?

                   

                  Thanks,

                  Shawn

                  • 6. Re: Windows Server 2012 compared to Server 2008R2 as a FileMaker Server
                    BowdenData

                    Hi Worldcloud,

                     

                    Thanks as well for the information regarding MS Remote Desktop. I regularly connect to clients who have MS Remote Desktop or Citrix XenApp using a Mac. One area where Citrix is much better (when using a Mac client) is keyboard mapping. Without having to configure anything, on Citrix, I can use my regular Mac keyboard shortcuts. Basically, it seems like for any Windows shortcut that uses the Control key, I can use the Command key in its place on my Mac. The remote desktop client is using Win Server 2008.

                     

                    Are you aware if this is possible with Server 2012 and the latest Remote Desktop services and clients?

                     

                    Thanks,

                    Doug

                    • 7. Re: Windows Server 2012 compared to Server 2008R2 as a FileMaker Server
                      dhuebsch

                      Last year I had FM Server 12 running on SBS 2011.  We have transitioned to FM Server 13 on Server 2012 R2 and the difference is outstanding!

                       

                      MS Server 2012 has much lower overhead than any of their previous version and after setup and install you can turn off the GUI on the server itself for speed.  You can still access the FM admin remotely via https.  Unlike Worrldcloud stated about "Essentails (formerally Small Business Server)" is not true.  SBS was built as a bloated server product trying to do too much (it was 2008 R2 with SharePoint and Exchange built in), so you have many features and roles turned on, you will never use on a FM Server.  Essentials 2012 R2 is a pared down version of 2012 R2 without some of the higher end services and features.  This makes it perfect for FM Server 13.  I also think your FM Server should be separate from your AD/DC server and the cost for a small basic server to do AD/DC is less than $1,500 (incl licenses).  Running one server for anymore than 5 clients will slow you down.

                      • 8. Re: Windows Server 2012 compared to Server 2008R2 as a FileMaker Server
                        smower

                        Awesome. Thank you. I recently bought a new 2012 server and installed 13 on it. Still trying to migrate everything. Thank you, Shawn  

                        • 9. Re: Windows Server 2012 compared to Server 2008R2 as a FileMaker Server
                          dhuebsch

                          Don't Migrate from SBS2011 to 2012, do a clean install ... you will thank yourself

                          • 10. Re: Windows Server 2012 compared to Server 2008R2 as a FileMaker Server
                            smower

                            I did. My migration comment is that I am manually migrating to a new server that has a clean install.

                            • 11. Re: Windows Server 2012 compared to Server 2008R2 as a FileMaker Server
                              worldcloud

                              We have numerous clients which are running 2012r2 essentials. If you have a company with 5 employees, saying $1,500 isn't 'that much' for Active Directory is a tough sale. Many of our users don't even use Active Directory. Client backups and unified updates are popular featrthures. For many of our clients their 'essenislals' server is their only server and/or their first server.

                               

                              Certainly the majority of our servers are lean, mean systems solely dedicated to hosting FileMaker, but for some small businesses Essensials on their FileMaker Server is a good choice...