There is a purpose for first explaining our system here, as will become apparent below. We’ve been providing ‘cloud’ based solutions worldwide for over 10-years. We do not use the FileMaker/Claris cloud but manage our whole infrastructure and do all the support and work for our clients. Neither do we attempt to compete with Claris’s cloud, ours is mainly used to deliver our own CRM based solutions to our customers.
In the vast majority of cases, neither do we install FileMaker on any of our users’ computers, we ‘stream’ FileMaker to each computer device, so all software is managed and delivered centrally. The reason for this, is that 10-years ago bandwidth was pretty hopeless and FileMaker was almost unusable over low speed connections. We expected our chosen delivery method to have had its day by now, but despite improvement within both bandwidth and software, the productivity, hidden cost savings, central management, absolutely no compatibility problems with software and operating systems, delivery to any computer device and a gradual trend towards streaming has kept it very much to the fore.
Now to the point of leading with the above. In the 10-years since we started, development techniques have changed to minimise performance issues over the Internet compared to running a system on premises over brilliantly fast Ethernet networks. Using all of FileMaker’s available features will almost certainly cause problems running over the lower speed ‘Cloud’ network connections.
Our personal view is that FileMaker should now have features labelled as ‘Legacy’ and ‘Current’, with the former remaining to ensure older systems continue to run. Using these legacy features for new development can cause headaches (and/or heartbreaks) if moving to a cloud based server.
To give some practical examples, we hardly ever create a cross-table calculation field, stored or unstored. Virtually all validation and calculations are script based, as the only network or performance overhead of scripts is when they are performing, where as tables, table occurrences, fields, calculations, validation, etc. are part of the structure and have a constant impact on performance. By the way, a general rule for performance is ‘many tables with fewer fields is good, fewer tables with many fields is bad’.
Use of cross table sorting, replace field contents or navigating to a layout containing a summary field can result in extended coffee breaks or lunches, although development continues to try to improve this by moving the responsibility from the FileMaker client to the server. We have written scripted routines to replicate the behaviour of summary fields in sub summary parts using standard fields to overcome some of the aforementioned behaviour.
We are huge fans of ‘cloud’ computing and have been doing so long before Claris (and many of the large vendors), but just putting a server on the Internet and installing a solution that has not been designed for it will cause problems. How big these will be will depend on some of the above and how much data is being processed.
Personally, I don’t believe something should be called ‘cloud computing’ unless everything is processed within the cloud. Having client software running on a computer requires it to be installed and maintained with all the local problems that are associated with any software running locally. Data is processed at the client end resulting in network bottlenecks between the client and server. Claris know this, which is why they are putting so much effort into moving processing to the server and their push towards a web interface.
My most important advice is to test your client’s solution thoroughly before moving it. The testing should be carried out by the regular users, not by anyone in IT, development or management. The problems will only become apparent if the workflow is replicated completely using a copy of the current data.
Good luck, and please feel free to put this in front of your client. We’ve client systems that are used by a couple of users up to systems that are pushing through multi-million USD worth of international business and the above is all written from hard won experience.