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Better Server Performance: Windows or Mac?


keckfmp
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Hello all,

We are currently running FMP 4 databases and FM 3 Server. We have three server installations (independent labs/LANs). On the larger campus network we run FM 3 Server on Windows NT 4 Server. In that instance, most of the clients are Windows 2000/XP. On the remaining two LANs, we run Mac OS 9 for the FM Server and in one instance mostly Windows clients (some Mac) and on the other network, mostly Mac OS 9 and X clients running classic. We also run two installatinos of the old Tango (version 3.1) CGI for Web ordering capability.

We are currently developing a new CGI using Lasso 7. Before the roll-out, we would like to upgrade the databases to FM 6 and FM Server 5.5 (no immediate plans to go to FM 7 as we have ties to Mac OS 9), as well as the server hardware and OS. I would like to standardize on a server platform for all FMP services. Questions are as follows:

1 - Is there any performance data available which indicates which OS (W2K/W2K3 Server or Mac OS X Server) performs better? Does anyone have any preferences? Is this negligible?

2 - Is there any benefit to running one Server OS over the other in terms of the type of client (Win or Mac)? e.g. does a Mac client see better performance from a Mac server, or vice versa?

I would like to look at this from strictly a performance standpoint, at least initially. Any other thoughts or considerations?

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Let me take your 2nd question first.

There are 2 major performance issues with FM clients. 1) The performance of the client machine, and 2) the quality/speed of the client network connection. What type of hardware the FM server is running on has no bearing whatsoever.

As to server hardware, we have found a slight to moderate performance advantage on FM Server running on Win OS. The reason is that FMS runs as a service and is not dependent upon Windows itself or the GUI interface.

Mac OS X Should have the same advantage as FMS runs as a daemon on the UNIX core. FM Server 5/5.5 does not seem to like OSX very much. We had several Mac servers that we upgraded to OSX with FMS 5.5. The FMS just stopped for no reason almost daily. One server stopped 3-4 times a day! We eventually went back to OS9 for stability reasons. I have heard that there are a lot of folks who have had no such problems with FMS and OSX - so it might be something you might want to test. (Hopefully FM7 server will solve that problem)

If you are familiar with Windows servers, there are also a lot of background tasks that can be scheduled to enhance your solutions. The same tasks can be done on a Mac OS server, but they are a little easier to setup on a Windows box (IMHO).

The main issue on hardware is buy the fastest harddrives you can afford and invest in a good NIC card.

Hope this helps...

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  • 3 weeks later...

dykstrl said:

We eventually went back to OS9 for stability reasons.

OS 9 for stability? Now there's an oxymoron. wink.gif Seriosuly though, thanks for the input. I'm leaning towards W2K/2K3 mostly because that's what's familiar. Any other experiences or advice?

As for hardware, what's the most important; RAM, disk speed, or processors? I'll probably have a pretty generous budget (~$6,000 for the FMP server alone).

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OS 9 for stability?

Some may snicker but I found that on a dedicated system with mucho ram that FMPserver was very stable with good performance. I am running a FMP server on a 350 Blueberry iMac (think 5 year old consumer level machine) (OS 9.2 - 512 MB) for 4 years and I can count the number of crashes on one hand. (By far the most stable server in our whole infrastructure). This puppy has uptime time of literally months. We are moving up [sic] to a Win2k3 server (for better performance and to deal with FM7 server) and I only hope that it can come near to the stability that I have experienced.

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For Server 5.5, disc speed is the single, most important factor. For v7, it looks like RAM and porcessor will come into play - how much remains to be seen. If you have any plans of migrating to v7 in the near future, investing in a good quality server box is recommended.

As to the stability issue, if you search the Server on OSX, you will find a lot of folks are having problems with server stopping or crashing. Server 5.5 is much more stable and reliable in our experience - thus the rollback to OS9.

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dykstrl said:

For Server 5.5, disc speed is the single, most important factor. For v7, it looks like RAM and porcessor will come into play - how much remains to be seen. If you have any plans of migrating to v7 in the near future, investing in a good quality server box is recommended.

As to the stability issue, if you search the Server on OSX, you will find a lot of folks are having problems with server stopping or crashing. Server 5.5 is much more stable and reliable in our experience - thus the rollback to OS9.

I am running three FileMaker 5.5 servers. Two on Xserves and one on a 1.2 Dual G4. I have never had any of the stopping/crashing you refer to. Only issue I have with 5.5 on OS X is the scheduler does not work. Not a show stopper if you know some unix you can script backups.

G

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  • 5 months later...

Pure performance is relative to how well you can maintain the system and understand what can/needs to be tweaked for max horsepower and stability.

What it really comes down to is how familiar you are with the OS. You can give me an Xserve and while I know the basics I wouldn't completely know how to tune it, monitor and maintain it. I do for Windows Servers so that makes them the better machines from my perspective. Perspective is everything...

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