Cloud First

What does Cloud First mean? Considering the deprecation of peer to peer sharing is the fat client soon to be obsolete? I haven’t been at Devcon 2019 but watched online presentations - would like to know what it all means.


Cloud only is a strategy commonly employed by all major solution/platform providers (SAP, Oracle, Salesfore, etc.). Currently, offers are on-premise and cloud, but step by step customers are nudged towards cloud only. For some businesses this makes sense, for others not at all.
Counting keywords in presentations and publications is my cristal ball.


Cloud First means they are bringing features to the cloud version first. They decisions will center around how cloud works.

Cloud in the new VP’s mind involves a service that the vendor handles, not the client having to configure the server like it is now.

On-prem will still be a thing. They will standardize it and push features to it still. Likely means a more stable on-prem experience.

None of this is related directly to FMPA. However there is a large segment of the business world that simply does not want to install software on their machines. So making WebDirect on par with FMPA is important. Not the only thing. But that is an important piece.

Cloud first. Not cloud only.

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Well said! That's what we need :slightly_smiling_face:

thank you for your answer jormond. if cloud is the emphasis why should you choose FM? FM’s strength is the stand-alone with server connectivity IMHO. Cloud based systems are already there in abundance and offer scalability FM cannot compete with right now (?)…

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There are use cases for FMC. Not all businesses need tremendous scalability but fast development. That’s FM’s sweet spot.

good point - there are use cases for FMC sure - I have them too - but setting up your own server or running files off-line is most desirable for my user base …

Honestly, cloud adds to that strength. They handle everything except the files and schedules. If they get it right, it will be a huge boost to the company. And with new leadership that has experience in the space, it’s looking really good.

With that comes another benefit, all of those efficiencies and strengths can also come through to on-prem. And the possibility that server becomes an appliance. Which would be awesome.

In the end, on premise servers (FMS) will be late getting the great (?) new stuff, and will be late getting corrections to the new stuff. Some will be frustrated with that and jump on to Cloud. And since less people will buy on-premise FMS, . . . I let you figure out how it will end.

Don't get me wrong, I love FileMaker, what I dislike are new bugs introduced with patches and new versions. How about half baked new functionalities.

Reports are that many companies are leaving the cloud now. For my part, I prefer to have control over my hardware and software.


There are 2 problems with ‘the cloud’

  • privacy, sensitive data
  • uptime

Privacy is not in every case that important. Uptime might be a factor - we got customers who have their IT outsorced, means servers are not at the same location. Some of them suffer ‘uptime problems’ every couple of days. Not caused by the IT provider, it’s the whole thing… if sone of the telecom providers are wirking on the network, etc

Additionally, there might be other issues like Your browser is too old, the cloud-software wants newer os than some critical applications bite…

You can add an item to that list: access. Here in New Zealand the closest AWS facility is Sydney Australia. My best connection gave me a 40 millisecond round trip. FileMaker documentation regards that as a poor network connection. A poor connection would give me about 120 ms.

I do understand the path that leads you to this conclusion. However, I don't agree. It may be that some features lag behind the cloud version a bit. I would expect that to be features that really require the cloud architecture to work. But over all the line they used is that on-prem FileMaker Server will be "standardized". This is speculation on my part, but I take that to mean we could be getting an appliance. They ship the cloud version, and then blow out an appliance that they ship out to on-prem deployments.

To be clear: software appliance. Software appliance - Wikipedia

Claris has heard about reason why not everyone can go cloud. We are one of those companies, and my boss sat with Srini at DevCon this year. I assure you, they have heard about concerns and requirements from the on-prem side. Srini was disappointed his description of on-prem was not heard the way he intended it.

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@Malcolm with you 100% on this one. The nature of our business means we are shuffling a lot of data all over the place constantly. While we could architect a lot of it to work better over the WAN, this is a 13 year old legacy system that has been in constant development for more than a decade by more than 1 full-time developer. Estimated costs to rebuild what we have is in the millions, and we would probably lose 60% of the functionality.

That's the part that scares me. How much time & money will Claris need to pour into this initiative to reach parity? Just looking at the discrepancy we have in the different products and their respective OSes (FMPA, FMGo, WebDirect, PC/Mac/iOS) for feature availability and behavior, tells me it will take a lot of time (and money).

Who needs authoring tools to be available online, basically giving us the same as what we have today via a different channel instead of adding features. Claris resources are limited, that rule applies to everyone, and this happens in a context where they are already adding FMCloud and Claris Connect to the mix.

When asked about an android client I always reply I'm glad they steered clear of it because it would have slowed down the rest of what is going on. I fear this is what will happen with the authoring part of the product and why? Is it because they want to go after the 'zoho creator' and similar offerings? Only time will tell.

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I’m less concerned about the browser authoring tools. They will work for a small sub-set of developers/users. But from a professional dev space, it’s not fast enough or powerful enough.

From a user experience, parity isn’t that far off. Cloud First means once they get parity, features will come the other way. Get it working on the cloud side, then get it working on the desktop side. Which should be easier. FMPA may at some point become an IDE with a browser wrapper that just renders the layout visually.

As for Android, the new blood opens more possibilities. Though, I’m still not confident it will come anytime soon. It’s hard. And Android’s ecosystem, and security issues, make the move even harder. Developing for so many variants of the OS ( for which Android has slow adoption ), device sizes ( unlimited and as varied as the name of all the devices ), etc. are a real challenge from the custom dev side ( that’s us ). Not impossible, but it would be further down the road, if at all.

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Thanks for the link about Software appliances. I kind of see this as a module or class in OOP that is self-contained and can be easily used. On this Wikipedia page, there is this sentence:

Commercial software appliances are typically sold as a subscription service (pay-as-you-go) and are an alternative approach to software as a service.

The world of software is steering toward the subscription model full steam, because that makes redundant revenues, in the end that pays a lot more. But that model is not a fit for all customers. I am currently trying to propose a FileMaker app to a non-profit organization, but they find the cost expensive, even at discounted prices for their type of organization. Lot of people think that FileMaker is leaving behind these type of organizations, and it’s hard not to agree. Sure, you can still buy permanent licences at 3 x the price.

And server ( five seats ) for less than two single user licences - so that is a good deal.

Well, there is a reason software is going that direction. This is a decent article that talks about some of the shift and why. The Pros And Cons Of Selling Your Software As A Subscription Service

  1. Lower upfront cost. Honestly, there is a lot of risk to a business to invest $10s of thousands on something that may not be the right fit. They can do a lower upfront cost, and make sure it’s a fit. This pushes the “risk” partially back to the developer or provider. This has a good impact on us as developers and users. It requires a better product. The swing is more immediate if they do it wrong.
  2. Flexibility. This one will take longer to get there, until the model shift is fully complete. But it allows the end-user company to adjust on the fly. Increase/Decrease as their needs change. We get this partially with Claris, but not completely. After all they are trying to project revenue same as we are. So they are protecting part of that revenue stream. That’s not unexpected. That also helps them use the money to reinvest in engineering resources more confidently.
  3. Long-term Growth. Imagine this scenario. Someone pays $500, 1x, 5 years ago. Now they expect support and have brought no additional revenue stream. The provider still had 5 years of expenses, but no further revenue from that company. That’s simply not sustainable. A subscription allows a balance of cost on the client side, and a balance of expected revenue on the provider side. That money all goes into growing the company and the product. This CAN’T happen without the sustained revenue. That’s why you see so many long-time development companies and product fade away. They have a user base that has become 95% cost and 5% additional revenue. It’s not possible to sustain a business like that in the tech world.

Again a very interesting link, thanks.

A few extracts:

Typically, subscription services do not require long-term contracts. If a customer is unhappy with the service or sees a better deal elsewhere, they can cancel at any time.

That’s true, for example about Internet providers. You may easily switch to a different provider. You rent your car and not happy with the car or the dealer, next time you rent elsewhere.

But the same is not true with FileMaker: once you have an app built with Filemaker, you can’t go to something else easily, you may export the data easily, but you need to rebuild the entire app. So in this case, SAAS is good for the provider, but is it also good for the customer ?

The internal product and engineering teams have to continue delivering new features [1]. They no longer have the luxury of working on a new product for two or three years. Adding new functions and innovating based on customer feedback is now a constant process.

If a competitor offers the same functionality for a cheaper price, your customer may leave. [2]

[1] Claris does this once a year, or should I say tries to do so. FMS 17 got a better Console in terms of robustness, but with far more functionalities than before. Come on, it was 2018, command line commands ??? FMPA and FMS 18 are buggy. Claris want to go to SAAS, fine, but they don’t really deliver new features, because they are buggy and probably won’t get fixed until next version, that may introduce new (buggy) features. Then were is the added value for the customer ?

Jormond, I understand that you may have access to some information that keeps you optimistic, but developers like me and customers are wondering. I have a ‘plan B’ - you may say that in English ? - but when I think about it I always find that there is an easier way to do it in FileMaker.


Well, that’s the rub isn’t it? You want a software you can rely on. But once you rely on it, it’s much harder to replace. That’s just the nature of the beast. Obviously, true of any platform. The cost of entry is still so much lower than most alternatives.

Single-purpose apps and services are changing the landscape, no doubt. But FileMaker, the product, is in a prime place to take advantage of all of it. Like Todd, I agree that Custom Software will become even more important as the years go by. The skillset will change some, as will what is expected by the user base, but again, FileMaker is perfectly positioned to help us and our clients with it all.