Much of the work of server maintenance and administration consists of diligently following a routine. For each server or service you maintain, there should be a checklist of necessary tasks. Some of these you need to do only once, when you set things up. Others are recurring tasks that should be attended to carefully. In this section, we present a series of considerations for setting up and maintaining a FileMaker Server installation.
If you e working with network staff or administrators who don have previous experience with FileMaker, offer them this list as a handy overview of the essentials of maintaining a FileMaker Server.
Youll want to run FileMaker traffic over the fastest network possible. Before doing anything about a server machine proper, make sure that you have a handle on prevailing networking conditions. Whats the topology of the network over which FileMaker will run? Is it fully switched, or are hubs involved? Whats the minimum speed of links within the network? With what other services will FileMaker traffic be competing? Knowing the answers to all these questions can help you make the right hardware choices, and will give you a leg up on diagnosing any later problems that appear to be network-related.
We discussed ideal hardware characteristics earlier in the chapter. Simply put, buy the best machine you can afford. Get a machine with one or more fast processors (ideally, 2GHz and up), a healthy dose of RAM (1GB and up), fast disk storage (SCSI or Serial ATA, and consider a hardware RAID configuration), and a networking capability that matches the prevailing speed of your network. Expandability is also a good idea: Additional drive bays, external hard drive connectivity, and multiple slots (for additional or upgraded networking capability, for example) are all desirable.
All this might sound expensive, but hardware power these days is reasonably priced. For example, at the present time (early 2006), $3,300 will get you a PowerMac G5 with dual 2.3GHz dual-core processors, Mac OS X Server, 2GB of RAM, and a 250GB Serial ATA drive. And $3,500 will get you a Dell PowerEdge SC1425 with dual 3GHz dual-core Xeon processors, Windows Server 2003, 2GB RAM, and two 160GB Serial ATA hard drives. If you want to spend less, you could reduce the amount of available hard drive space, use a bit less RAM (but not much less!) or drop back to a single processor.
Use the latest version of an approved operating system, with all relevant patches and updates. Avoid enabling any other services on the machine except for those strictly necessary for system administration. In particular, avoid file sharing as much as possible. If it can be avoided, make sure that you do not enable file sharing for those areas that contain the hosted database filesotherwise you run the risk of file corruption.
Install FileMaker Server and make sure that all appropriate updates are applied. Make sure that your version of FileMaker Server is compatible with both the operating system and, if applicable, the service pack level of the operating system. Make sure that all drivers are up to date, especially drivers for critical things such as disks. Make sure that the BIOS and firmware for the machine are up to date as well.
Its a good idea, if possible, to put the FileMaker Server data on its own volume, separate from the volume containing the applications and operating system.
Here are a few more useful tips for operating system configuration:
Configure FileMaker Server to a level appropriate for your expected usage (see the detailed notes earlier in the chapter). Bear in mind that its worthwhile to try to use only those resource levels (for example, maximum numbers of connected clients and hosted files) that you think youll need. Here are some other quick rules of thumb:
Decide on your database directory structurethat is, how youll group databases into directories on the server. Decide whether to use an alternate database directory (but make sure that its on a local hard drive, not on a networked volume!). Regardless of your choice, establish backup schedules that provide you and your organization with an appropriate level of security. How much data can you afford to lose? Decide on the answer and back up accordingly. Remember that local backups by themselves are not sufficient security: You should make provisions to transfer this data to offline storage such as a tape backup.
Keep a careful eye on usage statistics, especially early on when usage patterns are being established. Be alert for signs of inappropriate configuration, such as a low cache hit percentage or a high amount of unsaved data in the cache. Make sure that your network bandwidth continues to be adequate.
Check the application event logs periodically to make sure that things are operating smoothly. If you want to be especially proactive, and have some facility with operating system scripting, write a batch script that scans the event log for errors and emails you if errors appear in the log.
Its probably a wise idea to periodically run the File Maintenance tool, available in FileMaker Pro Advanced, on your files. How often to run it depends on how heavily used your files are. A good rule of thumb is to perform file maintenance once per month. If your databases experience thousands or tens of thousands of transactions a month, you might want to optimize your files as often as every couple of weeks.
It should go without saying, but youll want to keep current with all updates and patches to your operating system, and to all software packages installed on the server, including, of course, FileMaker Server itself.
Part I: Getting Started with FileMaker 8
Using FileMaker Pro
Defining and Working with Fields
Working with Layouts
Part II: Developing Solutions with FileMaker
Relational Database Design
Working with Multiple Tables
Working with Relationships
Getting Started with Calculations
Getting Started with Scripting
Getting Started with Reporting
Part III: Developer Techniques
Developing for Multiuser Deployment
Advanced Interface Techniques
Advanced Calculation Techniques
Advanced Scripting Techniques
Advanced Portal Techniques
Debugging and Troubleshooting
Converting Systems from Previous Versions of FileMaker Pro
Part IV: Data Integration and Publishing
Importing Data into FileMaker Pro
Exporting Data from FileMaker
Instant Web Publishing
FileMaker and Web Services
Custom Web Publishing
Part V: Deploying a FileMaker Solution
Deploying and Extending FileMaker
FileMaker Server and Server Advanced
Documenting Your FileMaker Solutions