FileMaker Inc. doesn’t make a very big deal about it, but for years FileMaker Server has played nice in Virtual Environments. A Virtual Environment uses physical hardware and software to allow multiple instances of virtual machines to run concurrently. Each virtual machine has its own operating system and the host software provides resources like disk, memory and peripherals. A typical server might only be using a small percentage of its memory, disk or CPU. By combining multiple virtual servers onto one box, those servers can share the available memory, disk and CPU so that overall the server is using a higher percentage of its resources (higher utilization). By reducing the number of physical servers, you reduce the power and cooling required to keep them running. Virtual technologies have additional features too that allow snapshots of a server to be saved with the option to roll back to that snapshot in case of some catastrophic failure.
In our office, we tried out virtualizing some of our servers using Microsoft’s Hyper-V technology. The experience was okay but we did find that over time our FileMaker servers would become unstable and eventually crash. We upgraded things to use VMware’s technology and performance has improved and stability has returned.
Putting all your servers into one basket (as it were) does require high-powered physical servers with standard devices. You’ll typically want to have lots of resources in these boxes to allow your virtual servers to scale over time. A Storage Area Network (SAN) can also leverage some great failover features in the host software.
If you’re looking for more information feel free to call our office (1.800.650.8882). FileMaker Inc. does have a webinar that you can watch. It’s from November 2008 but still relevant today. Visit http://www.filemaker.com/support/webinars/seminars.html and look for “Going Virtual with FileMaker Software.”