Overview of Machine Configuration Options
There are three main components to consider when working with FileMaker Server as a website back end:
- Database Server—Hosts the FileMaker files.
- Web Server—Handles the browser requests.
- Web Publishing Engine (WPE)—Acts as the translator between the Web Server and the Database Server.
These three components can be installed on one, two, or three machines, as follows:
- Single Machine—Database Server, Web Server, and WPE on a single machine
- Two Machines—Database Server on one machine and Web Server and WPE on another machine
- Two Machines (Alternative)—Database Server and WPE on one machine and the Web Server on another machine
- Three Machines—Database Server on one machine, WPE on a second machine, and Web Server on a third machine
There are a number of considerations when deciding on a machine configuration:
- Single Machine allows for very fast communication between the three components, but puts a heavy load on the processor. Also, it means that you have a single point of failure. With a multiple machine configuration, you can reboot your web server without affecting clients connecting to the database with FMP.
- Two Machines spreads out the processor load and separates the website load from the FileMaker Pro client connections. If you have a lot of FileMaker Pro client activity, and a lot of web activity, this might be a good option. However, the communication between the WPE and FMS could be a bottleneck if the connection speed is lacking.
- Two Machines (Alternative) moves the WPE to the FMS machine, which means that web requests to the database could impact your FMP clients more so than the regular Two Machines configuration.
- Three Machines spreads out the processor load the most, but a slow connection between any of the machines can cause performance problems. Also, there is the obvious expense of the three machines.
Only you can decide which machine configuration is best for you, but here are some thoughts that might help:
- If you are not sure which option is best for you, go with the easiest and least expensive. You can always ramp up if you find that performance or stability is lacking.
- For development purposes, I am a big fan of the Single Machine configuration. I just install everything on my laptop and I am good to go, even without a network connection.