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7 Factors That Affect FileMaker Wan Performance and Hosting


Hi I’m Marc Larochelle, President of Productive
Computing. In this video, I wanted to talk to you about
FileMaker Hosting Performance. As a hosting provider, we often run in to
customers who say, hey you know the speed is a little slow now that I am hosting versus
what it was in the office. What can be done? And a lot of times they will look at things
like, well, do I need to get a bigger server? Do I need to get more RAM? A lot of times that has nothing to do with
it. Sometimes it does, but often it doesn’t, because
there are a lot of factors that go into FileMaker Performance and I thought we would make a
video and talk about those factors. Alright, now before we can talk about the
factors that affect performance let’s talk about performance indicators. What do I mean by that? A customer might say or a user might say,
jeez, my database is slow. Well, let’s define that a little better. I have broken that definition down into three
parts. The first part is, let’s talk about opening
speed, because that is a very measurable thing that we can talk to a customer or a user about. So, opening speed is after you enter the credentials
to get into a FileMaker app, you click OK, you wait and you measure the time from the
time you push OK to the time that the system is ready for use. That is opening speed and that is easily measurable. The second thing you can measure is specific
speed surrounding a specific routine that that user might be doing – such as running
a report or perhaps they are sending a bunch of emails out and that whole routine is an
automated process that takes a certain amount of time. A lot of times these routines will run very
quickly in the office, but once they host, these routines slow down to a crawl, depending
on how they are designed. So that is specific speed. And the third thing which is a little harder
to measure, but something you can definitely talk about, which is the overall speed. Does the system feel sluggish? When I navigate from place to place am I waiting
all the time? Or let’s say I have a dashboard open in the
foreground calculating data in the background, well, sometimes when that data in the background
is updated, the dashboard, because it is designed with unstored calculation fields, it is slow
to respond or it has to continually calculate. Those things are far more pronounced when
you are on a Wide Area Network than they would be in a local network. These things never appear in a local network
half the time. The moment they get it hosted these things
start happening and they start wondering: how can we do this? How can we fix it? What impacts this? Alright, so here are the factors, I have narrowed
them down to eight – factors affecting performance. These are in no particular order, but I did
try to put them in my mind into what is most effective versus lease effective. So, factor number one- throughput. Well, obviously, if you are in the office,
traditionally you are on the same network, hardwired into an infrastructure that goes
from a desktop to a server or you are on a wireless network in the office from a laptop
to the server – and that speed is traditionally gigabit. It is a thousand megabits per second up and
down. Super good speed. Really good speed and there is no latency,
there is no hops, there is no internet, so FileMaker runs really great in that environment. Now, when you go to a hosting environment
you are dealing with the internet and the internet introduces all kinds of different
factors. First of all, your internet speed is not traditionally
gigabit up and down. It can be if you have a fiber network, but
even if you did have a fiber network, and you had 1000 megabits per second up and down,
it would not necessarily be quick, because there are servers between you and your host
or between you and your server. Alright, so we will get more into that in
a second. The second factor is the architecture of your
system. How well is it optimized? So, for example, if you have a summary field
that is calculating, you know, across multiple records that is going to slow you down. If you are looking at a list view of 1,000
records and trying to sort all of those records via an unstored cal that is going to slow
you down tremendously. If you have a dashboard that is using a lot
unstored cals or summary fields that is going to slow you down. And there are many, many other factors on
hw you can build the best optimized system. In fact, there are so many factors you could
have a whole other hour of video on it and to save you from doing that right now I went
ahead and made some links at the bottom of this video where you can see how others in
the industry have really explore this subject and really created some great content around
that on you can best architect your system and make it optimized. But that is factor number two. Factor number three is distance. What is the distance between you and your
server? In a local situation, let’s say you were 30
miles away from your server, the speed is going to be a lot quicker for the database
system, because the latency is reduced, the distance is shorter, and the number of hops
is less. Compare that to 3,000 miles away. That is a much bigger physical distance and
there are a lot more between you and your server, so it takes a lot longer to transfer
the data. Things like what would take 4 seconds 30 miles
away, might take 8 seconds 3,000 miles away. Now, there is no hard and fast rule that I
know of where you can say the number of miles equals the number of seconds delay, because
there are too many other factors involved. And plus the internet volume is changing second
by second. So, your packets may take one route this second
and take a completely different route the next second. So you can’t really factor that in, but distance
does, all things being equal, distance does make a huge difference. The other factor, factor number 4, is cached
data versus non-cached data. FileMaker is optimized to when you first connect
to a system over the Wide Area Network, or even the local network, when you first connect
to a system that data is cached. Both the data, the actual records, you know
first name, last name, Mary, John, Sue. All of that is cached, as well as the information
about your FileMaker system, such as what are the list of layouts? What are the value lists? What are the table names? And the field names? All of that information is also cached. So that when you connect the second time it
is a lot quicker than it was the first time. So with each new version of FileMaker it seems
as though the engineers get better and better at making that cache more and more efficient. And I am sure we will continue to see improvement
in that area. That is a big factor that is hardly talked
about, but it is – it makes a big difference. OK, finally, the factor 5. We finally get to the hardware/ resources,
the part that the customer normally points to first. Yes, it does play a factor and even more significant
the more users. The more users you have using a system the
more important it is that you have good RAM, proper networking, proper harddrive infrastructure,
and those resources are properly allocated. To know what resources to use – you want to
go to the FileMaker website and look at the FileMaker Server specifications. There you will see the proper hardware and
resources to apply against that. If you are using a hosting company, like Productive
Computing, then we have various flavors of hardware and resources that you can choose
from, each comes with a different price. Generally speaking, the more users on a system
or the bigger the system, the more hardware and resources you want to apply towards that. Factor number 6, the upload speed and quality. Generally, if you were to host your own FileMaker
system from your own office the upload speed is going to be a lot less than it would be
at a data center. Likewise, the location of that internet connection
point to the internet is going to be of less quality than it would be at a data center,
which is why data centers get named a Tier 1 or Tier 2. That has a lot to do with the quality of the
internet from that data center to the internet at large. You will hear sometimes that data centers
are on the backbone of the internet because they have direct access to the fastest portions
and highest quality portions of the internet. So that plays a factor in your quality and
speed when you are talking about FileMaker Server. Factor number 7, the least, one of the lesser
factors, here, is your local internet speed and the quality ofyour local internet. Now, if you have decent speed, say 50 down
and 50 up, that is going to be more than adequate to provide a good FileMaker experience, if
all the other factors are in place. If you have really poor internet, let’s say
you only have one megabit down and megabit up, such as the case when you use shared wifi
at a hotel sometimes or maybe airport wifi, depending on, I mean things are changing and
things are getting better, but there are times and places, because you are either in a rural
location or just lousy internet, that that will affect and play a fator on your experience
with FileMaker. But, if all the other things are in place
and you have decent internet, factor number 7 won’t be a problem. Alright, so I hope you learned some things
about the different factors that affect FileMaker performance. I wanted to clear the air on some misconceptions
and to kind of define what I see as the biggest factors for FileMaker performance. Feel free to leave some comments, subscribe
if you enjoy this content, and hopefully this helped with your understanding of these important
issues when you talk about FileMaker hosting. Thanks!

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