Setting up Two-Machine FileMaker Server Deployment on Azure VMs
Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform offers many benefits for hosting a business’s database. To install FileMaker Server 13 on Azure virtual machine (VM) I recommend using the Windows Server 2012 operating system. FileMaker Server supports server 2012 standard edition. Microsoft’s Azure service currently offers a Windows Server 2012 datacenter edition as a vm image. The only difference between the datacenter and a standard edition of server 2012 is usage rights, so you will have no problem installing and running FileMaker Server on the datacenter edition. Hosting a two-machine FileMaker server deployment on an Azure server instance requires a few unique configuration settings to be performed in order for the machines to communicate properly. Below are a few problems I ran into, and some ways to remedy them, when setting up a two-machine database solution on an Azure virtual machine (VM).
First thing you need to set up, after you have created your initial account, is a virtual network to place your server into. This is especially important if you are configuring a two-machine deployment. Placing both machines in the same virtual network and the same subnet will allow for easy communication between the systems. It’s important to remember that if you configure a dual deployment with a master and worker server and you shut down the machines that they will be given different internal and external IP addresses. Internal IP address are given to each machine on a first come first serve bases. Running the deployment assistant after a shutdown may be needed if the internal IP addresses change.
Endpoints in Azure consist of a protocol, private, and public port. The endpoints allow azure machines to communicate with other systems. For a dual machine filemaker deployment, it is necessary for them to communicate with each other. When configuring your vm you will reach a page in the setup for endpoints. Filemaker requires TCP endpoints for port 80, 443, 5003, and 16000. Endpoints can also be configured from the configure tab of your vm, but have to be added one at a time, making it more efficient to add them when you create the instance. Once your vm is up and running remember to configure the windows server firewall as well.
One of the biggest limitations of hosting a large database on Azure is that Azure only supports attached disk of up to 1 terabyte. To overcome this limitation you need to create a storage pool. This allows you to have a virtual drive created from a from a number of attached disks, in essence a virtual RAID setup. Using a storage pool also adds some minor read/write disk performance increase. Keep in mind that the number of disks you are allowed to attach to a vm is limited based on its instance size.
Microsoft’s Azure platform provides a reliable way to host your FileMaker solutions. The ability to scale your machines as your needs demand is an invaluable asset for any business. Using FileMaker Server’s built-in statistics as well as the statistics provided from your virtual machine, is a good way to manage your instance sizes for optimal price per performance ratio. There are other features and settings that need to be configured, in order to optimize your own database solution. Every database is unique and will require fine tuning. With enough testing, you too could have highly performing database with all the benefits of hosting in the cloud.