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Richard Fincher

Two X-Serves, but which is which?

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Am about to move to a two-machine deployment of FMS 13.0.10, having acquired a second X-Serve. 

However, although both have the same CPU, one has 12GB RAM and one 24GB.  Also, the bigger one has 3x 15000rpm SAS drives, whereas the smaller one has the more usual 3x 1TB SATA drives,  (RAID5 in both cases)

My plan was to utilise the new smaller one as the WebDirect Server (as not all my hosted solutions use WebDirect).  But am wondering if this is the best way around.

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I hate to be that guy, but xserves?  They are, as far as I know, completely EOL.  AS in no spare parts, no support, no warranty, etc.  If something goes wrong with the server you might be SOL.

Either way, it really depends on how many concurrent users you plan on having.  2 machine may not even be worth if it's a relatively small number.

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Hi Richard

Don't you need the RAM in the WebDirect machine?

Swap the drives and run the DB server on the fast drives?

Sadly, James is right about the Xserve support etc. Do you have a failover plan?

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There's a company who I bought one of the X-Serves from, who reconditions them and gives a one year guarantee.  Funnily enough, failover was one of the reasons I switched from Mac Mini Server to X-Serve. All my Linux servers have RAID5/10 and dual power supplies, so I felt a bit exposed with the Mac mini not having hot-swappable psus and hard disks.  Getting the second X-Serve was partly driven by failover as well, after collecting your comments perhaps I should not do a two machine config, and use the second one as a hot spare?  I think Filemaker Server 14 has a new feature which makes this possible?

I expect a cylindrical Mac Pro will feature on the horizon in the next year or so, especially if I figure out how to use it with my SAN (Gigabit Ethernet).  The latest Mac OS X still supports X-Serve, although it must be the final model known as "Early 2009"

Edited by Richard Fincher

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I think not enough emphasis is on the processing power.  IIRC those late model xserves have quad core CPUs.  So if you if only have one CPU in there then that is going to be your bottleneck, not the disks, not the RAM.

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Yes, Quad-Core 2.26 GHz, but only one CPU in each machine.  The two CPU versions are rarer.

 

thank you

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Ya, you're really going to feel the pain with a single 4-core CPU running FileMaker Pro Server

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I'm not so sure on the performance issue with a single 4 core machine. I've got an Intel VMware ESXi machine with 4 core single CPU (Xeon 3GHz) and 24GB memory. That's running 4 virtual machines, 2 Win2k8 servers and 2 Win7 workstations. One of the Win2k8 machines is my FMSv14 server which has 8GB and 4 cores allocated.

There's also around 15 people connected to the DB most of the time (our main DB is 2.5GB in size, there's probably some 15 smaller DB's open at the same time). I get occasional spikes of 10% CPU but that's probably about it. Looking at the load of the machine, I could probably tune it down to 2 cores. It just doesn't need it. It's got about half it's memory in use.

This is obviously newer tech than an X-Serves (and I don't know X-Serves), but judging by how easy my system is handling things, I'd say a 4-core from 2009 would be able to keep up plenty with 4 cores and 24GB dedicated with a similar amount of users.

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I get occasional spikes of 10% CPU but that's probably about it.

That is one of the biggest fallacies of determining FMS performance.  The only real measure of FMS processor usage is in the combination of "elapsed time per call" and "wait time per call".  Those do not translate well up into the CPU usage reported by the OS.

And besides, we are talking about general stuff here without knowing any specifics about the number of files that will be hosted or the number of concurrent users for each solution.  Richard - AFAIK - is trying to host multi-tenant servers for cloud hosting.

You can have 1000 users just reading data without stressing out the processing power.  You can have 5 users doing searches on one unstored calc across 1 million records and bring the server down.  Too many variables to make general statements.  Except that 4 cores for any kind of heave duty server (like cloud hosting) is probably not going to be a good idea.  But again, if all of those cloud guests do nothing but read data and the solution is designed properly then it is not going to be an issue.  If the same users are all going to a layout withy 20 filtered portals, then... you get my point.

But don't ever look at the CPU usage on the OS level to determine that your FMS box has a CPU constraint.  Look at the counters provided by FMS itself.

 

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Yes, I am offering a commercial Filemaker Pro / Server hosting solution, however, we're more of a boutique ISP than a "pile-em high, sell-em cheap" ISP.  In the first instance we'll probably have 5 - 10 WebDirect concurrent connections.  My main priority and the reason for my question is, a large part of what I do as a sysadmin is minimising the effect customer A's activities have on customer B, or specifically in this case, making sure that customers who use WebDirect (which I gather is quite processor-intensive), are isolated as much as possible from customers who don't use WebDirect.

But in the light of previous comments here, I'm wondering if "hot spare" might be the best use for the second machine rather than a two-machine deployment.

 

IMG_2548.JPG

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Well, that changes everything doesn't it. In an ISP space I would (when money isn't a limitation) have at minimum 2 reasonable sized servers (ie nuf CPU's/cores and RAM) connected to a iSCSI NAS for storage purposes of the DB's, and install VMWare or similar on each in a cluster. Then install FMS redundant on each VM host. That way, if hardware fails, the other VM host can take over the FMS running on the failing machine, and if a FMS guest server fails, there's always the other FMS.

Upgrading hardware is (in theory) easier in a virtual environment. And it can be expanded as needed. I haven't worked with Mac servers so can't comment on availability of virtual environments, but for both Win and Linux there's plenty to choose from.

I assumed that because old (recycled) hardware was being used, this was for a smallish office environment where uptime wasn't too critical. Personally I don't like having old hardware for production purposes. When a server gets to 3-5 years, it's time to change the box.

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Yes, we do routinely retire our Linux boxed after 3-5 years, even if there's nothing wrong with them.  But with the Filemaker Server setup, I wanted to run Mac OS X Mountain Lion, which the latest Macs don't run, and the aforementioned redundancy factor for PSUs and HDDs had to be weighed in the balance with the negatives connected with EOL equipment.

I've seen a rack mount kit for the cylindrical Mac Pro and its massive (accommodates two Mac Pros though).  Form factor was also relevant, as space in our datacentre is limited and at a premium.  

Our SAN does do iSCSI, but at the moment it is being used with NFS.

but I've had trouble putting the /Library/Filemaker Server directory on anything but the boot drive.  

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Regarding virtualisation, we use both KVM and OpenVZ on our Linux boxes, and many of the VMs have their storage on our SAN.  We also use Parallels Desktop to host a FileMaker Pro 11 virtual machine for one customer who won't upgrade.

at present, Apple's EULA for Mac OS X doesn't permit it to be virtualised other than on Apple Hardware.  We are expecting this to change within 2 or 3 years.

Edited by Richard Fincher

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So why not run a virtual windoze server with FM? That can be virtualized no probs. Windoze 2012 OEM is probably the best way to go with that. MS License doesn't prevent you from running it in a virtual setup.
It's unfortunate FM doesn't support Linux, cause that would have been really sweet.

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We don't have any experience with securing and maintaining Windows servers.

A long time ago, there was Filemaker Server for Linux, but it was dropped from the product lineup.

 

 

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