Define "cost effective", because usually that doesn't mix well when you put "server", "SSD" and "powerful" in the same sentence.
Compared to Mac's infinitesimal product configuration options, linking to a specific machine for windows might not be plausible/helpful either.
If you even bring up windows 7 as an option, it might be for you. Performance wise it's not really different from server 2008, but there are notable cost savings, and in general the only REAL need for a server OS is to use other server functionality that is absent from win7.
Based on filemaker's tech specs for server 13, you need:
RAM: 8 GB
Hard Drive: 80 GB or more, dependent on file size, requires minimum 10 GB free space
Those requirements are pittance for most modern windows releases. But server hardware is always much more robust (and thus more expensive).
How important is your data? You might be looking for RAID drive arrays and external backup drives as well.
How important is performance? IE are you wanting to spring for the recommended, or the max? Is this a dedicated box or will it be doing double duty?
If it's a mission-critical database, I wouldn't skimp on the hardware. Usually you're limited by budget more than anything.
I get very good deals from these guys. Not affiliated with them. The stuff is used, but they provide a 3 year warranty.
I like the R710 servers. They are a good price/performance value at the moment.
I would be careful on SSD drives on a server. They do not have the long term reliability under heavy read/write loads, unless you get enterprise level drives. I would put together a good RAID 10 configuration with fast hard drives. You can get the R710 with 15K RPM SAS drives.
Just my two cents.
Thank you, Mike. Good point on the cost effective comment. I got a quote from a local server shop and they were quoting me about $7000 which seemed quite high to me. I also was considering FileMaker hosting in the cloud but for dedicated hosting with everything it seemed like it was around $250 per month and I am not sure that includes everything. I am also concerned that the speed for local FileMaker client will be much slower going over the cloud. I have been running FileMaker server 11 at home on a small business server 2008 and it runs pretty efficiently but the server has been running for several years and is probably in need of an update.
What kind of important server functionality would I lose by going to Windows 7 instead of windows server 2008 or 2012? Performance is very important for me and the machine will need to do a couple of other tasks but mostly FileMaker.
Thank you, Lee. I was hoping that SSD drives would last longer since there are fewer moving parts. I also heard they can give you five times the performance?
$7k does seem rather high. I can't speculate without knowledge of your database, but there are quite a few filemaker hosting companies out there offering a wide variety of pricing and options that may suit your needs. Performance can vary wildly depending on what your database does and how large it is. There are a number of features in 12 and 13 that make WAN performance easier to manage (IE perform script on server in 13).
If your SBS 2008 machine is running 11, chances are it will still run 13. FM tech specs does not show the need for any additional hardware for up to 6 webdirect users. You might want to invest in a short term upgrade of that box, max out the RAM and maybe run it through a reformat / reconfig. Lee's advice about SSDs under load is also correct. If your current box has RAID that supports drive swap/rebuild, I would just get some high RPM drives and swap them in there as well.
If you're worried about longevity and wanted to invest, then the pricing at the site lee pointed out is very good for the products offered.
In terms of what you lose, there's usually a greater pain in configuring win7 to act as a server. IE automatic updates, reboots, etc... Server OS is designed to run for long uninterrupted periods of time. I've found that restart is required quite a bit on win7. This can lead to file corruption if you're not careful (Rebooting a box when FMS is open and connected is about the worst thing you can possible do to FMS).
Filemaker's recommendation in the past has been to stick with server for production environments, but FMS is supported on client OS for testing/dev purposes.
Yes, SSD can be much faster, but I don't believe you will see anywhere near five times a performance increase in real world use with Filemaker. The problem with SSDs is that they are currently not really geared towards constant reading and writing. The drive structure degrades with each use, and has a somewhat "fixed" lifespan. The enterprise level hardware is more resiliant, but at a pretty steep costs. What many of the companies are doing is known as "over provisioning", so they basically sell you a 200GB drive that is really a 400GB drive. They use the extra capacity to replace drive sectors that "die" from regular use, to extend the "lifespan" of the drive.
Advances are being made and not all SSDs are created equally. But you want to do some research before you dive in. My suggestion at the moment would be 4 high speed drives stripped and mirrored. That gives you great speed and redundancy. You should be able to get a fully optioned out R710 with 12 cores, 32GB of RAM and 4 300GB 15K drives for 4K or less from EZTRADE with a 3 year warranty. Not a bad deal for that level of hardware and it will be very fast.
Thank you Lee and Mike,
That info is very helpful. So when you recommend 4 300gb 15k drives do you recommend that the operating system is installed on one drive and the filemaker databases on the other drive or do you put everything on the same drive and use the raid for faster performance or redundance? Does FileMaker perform better when it is seperated from the operating system drive or combined on it?
If your budget will spare, the R710s have 6 drive bays. The way I typically configure mine is with the OS on two drives that are mirrored, and my database on four drives that are striped and mirrored (RAID 10). If your trying to keep the costs down, I would just use four drive striped and mirrored and put everything on that drive.
I am going with a mac mini, maxed at 16gb, and with four cores, either the current or the new ones, which I expect to have pci ssds (which is no big deal if you'll be running your db from ram anyway), for a 50 strong company with 1-6 concurrent connections, for the time being.
Are there any red flags that I should be aware of?
As long as your using a good drive system, to 6 users it should be fine. I would make sure you mirror those drives.
So, Lee you reckon I shouldn't just go with an ssd and an hd, or two ssds, and mirror or fuse them within the mini, but I should opt for an external raid solution via thunderbolt?
(I am also sticking a time capsule to it for backups, although I don't know if I will opt for apple's implementation or just schedule back ups via super duper or ccc or some such application. And of course I ll be using a thunderbolt to ethernet cable, and quite possibly a decently priced thunderbolt hub if they ever materialize, because tb is beating firewire by far so far in not finding ready hardware for it.)
I would not use the internal hard drives in the Mac Mini, even the server version. They are very low performance.
A thunderbolt array with two or more SSDs should be good for your load in my opinion. Get decent drives and be sure to MIRROR them. If you can afford a four drive array, then mirror and stripe. The Promise technology stuff is very good. Thunderbolt is a good solution. Have fun!
pci ssds (which is no big deal if you'll be running your db from ram anyway),
I replied at length on FMforums.com to your same question.
There is no such thing as "running your db from RAM". FMS uses RAM cache but flushes that continiously to the hard disk. Backups (both regular and progressive) also use the disk i/o extensively. So the biggest red flag is your underestimation of the impact of fast disk i/o.
under the premise, << If the product exists, it can be used. >>
IF, recommended for 50 users or FMgo WD: 16GB ram and 12 core,... and whereas it is
possible (the product exists : FM Server + Unrestricted Connect VLA EXP 1yr MNT UNRESTRICTED FMGO/WEBDIRECT CONCURRENT CONN.)
That machine is required for 150 users connected via FMgo (50) and WD (100) ?
or is this a suicide?