1 2 3 Previous Next 41 Replies Latest reply on May 12, 2016 6:34 PM by wimdecorte

    Upgrading server Mac or PC?

    jamesg

      Hi All

       

      I've been given the green light to order new hardware to host the FM Server 14 which is currently running on a mid 2009 iMac 2.93Ghz, 8Gb RAM.

       

      It serves an office of around 14 people plus about 10 remote users.  I prefer the Mac route and my gut says go for a nice top end iMac, 1Tbgb SSD hard drive, fastest processor and max out the RAM.

       

      However, reading through "General hardware considerations for FileMaker Server" I'm now concerned that I should be looking at the desktop Mac Pro? Or a PC ?

       

      Thanks.

       

      James

        • 1. Re: Upgrading server Mac or PC?
          mikebeargie

          Is everyone using FMPro, or are there plans to use CWP / WebDirect as well?

           

          As with everything, it all depends on your solution. Is it data heavy? lots of reporting? lots of server-side scripts and schedules running? saying I have 24 users isn't really giving a lot of detail.

           

          I don't see why you would need an iMac, or are you using your server as a personal workstation as well? A mac mini should suffice for 24 filemaker pro users as long as you get the i7 processor/16gb ram version. It's cheaper and has similar hardware specs as an iMac, just without a screen. I find the form factor is nicer as well. The mac pro is overkill for most solution's needs, although I do know people that use them successfully on larger solutions.

           

          Windows servers are great, if you need the other features that come with windows server OS.

          • 2. Re: Upgrading server Mac or PC?
            jamesg

            Hi Mike

             

            Thanks for your reply.  At the moment there are 24 users on FMPro none using WebDirect but I suspect we will have users opting to use this as we have a lot of people working outside of the office who don't use iPads or iPhones.

             

            The solution is data heavy, lots of container fields PDFs 3-7Mb each record, currently total size of the Databases folder is 3.2Gb is that big or small relative to what you would consider data heavy?

             

            No server side scripts (don't have enough time to work on scripting and I have a lot to learn still!).

             

            I don't need an iMac persé but it was more swapping like for like, no need to purchase a screen for a Mac mini (though I don't know if I can share the screen of my iMac work station...?)

             

            I did consider the Mac Mini but a line in the hardware article got me concerned that it's more of a "consumer class" bit of kit than "server class".

             

            We run a file server independent of the Filemaker Server so we don't need any server features.

             

            Very grateful for your thoughts, I'm the IT manager by default rather than qualification so any help I can get is very much appreciated.

            • 3. Re: Upgrading server Mac or PC?
              mikebeargie

              From what I’m hearing, your primary need is drive storage space and network capacity. 3.5gb isn’t really bad if you’re hosting a lot of documents. I’d say a mac mini is fine.

               

              The iMac isn’t any more “server class” than the mac mini, as noted, similar processing and RAM capacity. You can connect to the mac mini without a monitor from another mac, or even use something like VNC or teamviewer to remote in from a PC. You could get a better drive (like a 512gb SSD), just make sure you have a good backup strategy so you’re not counting on just the single drive (same goes for iMac).

               

              WebDirect is processor and RAM heavy, as all of the layouts get drawn on the fly and sent to the user, and all of the data is processed server-side. FileMaker does allow for a 2-machine deployment, so technically down the line you could get two mac minis, one would handle the server load, and the other would handle the web publishing load.

               

              Hope this helps a bit.

              • 4. Re: Upgrading server Mac or PC?
                CICT

                Hi James

                 

                As a 30-year dyed in the wool Mac man, I've found myself in the weird situation of preferring Windows servers, but for very specific reasons. However, I must first stress that if you are responsible for the maintenance of the server, then you need to play to your IT strengths as both OS's should serve you well (forgive the pun).

                 

                The specifics that affect us include:

                 

                Heavy use of files in container fields, external storage and separation model. We frequently upgrade our customers' solutions by replacing the interface file and leaving the data files in place. This requires either the use of FMSAdmin 'Remove' or manually dragging the files in and out of the database folder. Using Remove kindly removes all container files from their external location along with the file. OK this would only be an issue if the relevant data files were removed, but either way it can cause problems, particularly if you have Gbs of stored files or even just one or two linked to the interface file, as you can't use FileMaker Pro's 'Sharing:Upload to FileMaker Server' if you have left the RC_Data_FMS folder that stores the files. Therefore you are in the land of manually dragging closed files in and out of the database folder. With Windows you don't even need to think about it, just drag as you normally would, while on the Mac you have to deal with the Unix permissions that are normally set by the FileMaker Pro Sharing menu using either the Terminal or a GUI utility.

                 

                ODBC/ESS - if you wish to connect to MySQL or Microsoft SQL Server, etc. then on the Mac you have to purchase drivers from Active Technologies (which are very good) but on Windows MySQL, Microsoft Native Client are all free.

                 

                Hardware - with the death of the Xserve there isn't any non-desktop hardware available to run your FileMaker Server on, no redundancy and very limited expansion.

                 

                In terms of licensing you don't need any Windows CALs that can inflate the price and can switch off any unwanted services, we run our cloud servers with the minimum of requirements to run FileMaker Server. Neither do you have to worry about constant iTunes, Photo, Garageband, etc. updates.

                 

                I'm sure I could pull together some other reasons we've ended up with this preference, but with limited time at the moment I hope the above provides some balancing points.

                 

                Regards

                 

                Andy

                • 5. Re: Upgrading server Mac or PC?
                  jamesg

                  I like your reasoning and the two Mac minis route is an excellent idea, gradual expansion when needed.

                   

                  I prefer sticking with Mac OS so unless any Windows die-hards can counter your reasoning I think I'll be researching the Mac Minis tomorrow.

                   

                  Thank you ever so much.

                  • 6. Re: Upgrading server Mac or PC?
                    jamesg

                    Hi Andy

                     

                    Thank you for taking the time to reply and I think the issues you raise I hadn't been aware of let alone considered.

                     

                    That said I think my set up is less fluid than yours.  The databases are just for internal use of my company so never having to change the interface.  We don't connect to MySQL or MS SQL Server and have no other database systems (well that's not true we have a rogue stock booking system that drives me insane but I'm in the process of converting to FM).

                     

                    Redundancy is possibly a consideration but if I have backup schedules to two different destinations on the network we might be ok.  Perhaps I could increase the backup frequency to compensate if I go the Mac Mini route?

                     

                    We have rightly or wrongly rarely upgraded our hardware opting to run equipment for about 3-4 years and then buying new.  Macs are stable and easy to go shopping for, select processor, RAM, storage and that's pretty much it done.  Choosing a PC or laptop requires an encyclopedic understanding of which chipsets, motherboard, RAM, HDD, SATA I/II/II and then operating system compatibility on top of that!  And I was just trying to source a new laptop for the Managing Director...

                     

                    You've definitely given me more to consider and I'm sure others stumbling upon the same dilemma will find your insight invaluable too.  Thanks.

                     

                    James

                    • 7. Re: Upgrading server Mac or PC?
                      schamblee

                      Todays MACs are running the same internals as PCs and another reason Windows will run well on a MAC.   When buying a PC don't buy from joe blow down the street, buy from a named dealer.

                       

                       

                      Not knocking a MAC at all, as Andy said both will serve you well, but Mike does have several good points.

                      • 8. Re: Upgrading server Mac or PC?
                        wimdecorte

                        Oy... the new Mac Minis are seriously underpowered with no room to grow.  They went from quad core to dual core.  Processing power is one of the first bottlenecks you will hit unless you have a very light load.

                         

                        The next step up in the Mac world is the Mac Pro.  For the same amount of money you can buy a Window server that will have a spare processor socket for future growth.

                         

                        But it all starts and stops with what the customer is comfortable supporting.  As long as we don't force a platform on them because of our own preferences and paint them in a corner.

                        • 9. Re: Upgrading server Mac or PC?
                          BobGossom

                          Hi,

                           

                          I can second everything James says. I'm a Mac guy, and recommend Minis for small shops. But it's hard to touch a Windows server on price/performance. Apple just isn't addressing this market.

                           

                          With 20+ FMP clients and Web Direct under consideration, I don't think a Mini would be a good choice.

                           

                          It's not that hard to configure a Windows server. We typically go to Dell and follow the links for a small business server. You can pretty quickly choose a server class machine for well under $3K. A Mac Mini won't touch it in terms of capability, and a similar Mac Pro would cost at least twice as much, with fewer redundant features.

                           

                          One nice touch with a Windows Server is that you can get one with an empty processor socket. If you need more power later, you can drop in another processor.

                           

                          For a little extra, you can get Dell tech support in the setup and configuration.

                           

                          In an FMP Server we typically look for:

                          -More cores (6+) over processor speed.

                          -Dual power supplies (not always available)

                          -Raid 10 drive setup (4+ drives)

                           

                          I just checked the Dell site and found the following:

                          T430 Tower

                          6 core E5-2603 (spare socket)

                          16 gigs Ram

                          Raid 10 (4 drives) 1 TB space

                           

                          $1,600

                           

                          About the price of a Mini. Not saying this is the best choice for you. Just something to think about.

                          • 10. Re: Upgrading server Mac or PC?
                            jamesg

                            Hi Bob

                             

                            Thanks for your reply and taking time out of your day to find that spec.

                             

                            Looks like a PC is coming out favourite as the most cost effective and flexible system, but it's funny how everyone really WANTS to recommend a Mac but have to opt for the more practical alternative.

                             

                            I still like the idea of the Mac Mini route however the issue of processing power is something I can't ignore.

                             

                            Okay, how about putting in another option for consideration; Hackintosh anyone?

                            • 11. Re: Upgrading server Mac or PC?
                              CICT

                              Hi James

                               

                              Strongly suggest using the KISS theory. Nice and simple and good quality!

                               

                              Another thing to watch out for on Windows I've remembered, if you go that route, we've found FMS14 to be affected much more by the anti-virus software running. As with all servers, the AV should be set to ignore any FileMaker files or folders (we have an on-going debate with FileMaker that they are providing a back door to viruses by not allowing us to scan the folder files stored in container fields are kept, but that's another story). Products such as Kaspersky always interfered with FMSAdmin, uploading files, etc. but our long relied on Sophos was always fine. This changed with FMS 14 and, certainly for any installations, do now always follow the advice of disabling the AV software first (Sophos prevented the deployment post install).

                               

                              Also, at risk of suggesting the obvious, ensure you have an intelligent UPS to ensure the server (and therefore files) are shut down gracefully in the event of an outage. Also suggest the redundant power supply for the same reason.

                               

                              We've found some excellent software tools we use on Windows. Coming from a Mac background we used Retrospect for backup for years, but this is very expensive piece of software when deployed over multiple Windows servers and passed between too many owners. We use AllSync now, which is very good and cost effective. AlwaysUp is a great way of turning products like Dropbox into a Windows service for offsite backup (we don't use standard cloud based backup software, as we need to provide links for our customers to download backups of their own systems if they need to).

                               

                              And just to explain why we won't only FMS backup (I believe you mentioned earlier that you store PDFs). You have an option to either include or exclude the folder containing externally stored files in container fields. On our cloud servers we have customers running our CRM, publishing and insurance management databases that generate thousands of Word and PDF documents. If we were to include the container folder for each backup we're replicating Gbs of static data each time. Therefore, we use FMS admin console to backup and proactively backup the database files and, out of hours, use AllSync to create a single backup of all the Word/PDF files.

                               

                              Good luck with your decision making

                               

                              Andy

                              • 12. Re: Upgrading server Mac or PC?
                                FurnitureMakerPro

                                I just awoke from a 6 year FileMaker nap.  Just purchase FMS14 and licenses all around.  We are running FMS 10 on an

                                Xserve, Quad-Core 2.26 GHz and was thinking of getting a new Mac Mini, but do you think I should stick with the Xserve?

                                • 13. Re: Upgrading server Mac or PC?
                                  Markus Schneider

                                  this leads to another problem.. I'm a Mac guy - but every year another, new OS, that's not what the industry needs )-:

                                   

                                  if Your XServe runs one of the required OS for FMS14 and Your XServe is running fast hardware (SSD, etc..) and has a lot of RAM - I would stay on that - at least for now.

                                   

                                  fileMaker supprots the latest two OS on the Mac side, Mavericks is noted as 'deprecated', the next verision of FileMaker might no longer uspprt that...

                                   

                                  so far so bad

                                  • 14. Re: Upgrading server Mac or PC?
                                    wimdecorte

                                    jamesg wrote:

                                     

                                     

                                    Okay, how about putting in another option for consideration; Hackintosh anyone?

                                     

                                    That would squarely put you outside of support parameters.  You do not want to be in that space.

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