How to Protect Your FileMaker Applications with Early Warning Notifications

One of our clients has a large mission-critical custom FileMaker application. It runs on a Soliant.Cloud-hosted server and has Zabbix monitoring running, an investment the team made based on the client’s needs for security and uptime.

Normally, this application and its server hum along uneventfully. But one morning, we awoke to a flurry of Zabbix alerts reporting server restarts and possible file damage. And to make a bad situation worse, it was the day before the client’s busiest day of the month!

The project team and cloud team collaborated on a response plan, which we quickly communicated to the client. We had the custom application safe and stable, transferred over to a brand new server before client users got back from lunch. The total downtime of the client’s hosted application was about 15 minutes.

Illustration showing cloud computing technologies

This client has a multi-file, multi-technology solution that runs on a complex FileMaker Server configuration, including:

  • Multiple Plugins
  • Server-side ODBC Drivers for MySQL
  • Zabbix monitoring
  • SideCar integration – external scripting tied to host name
  • Server-side Scheduled Scripts
  • Custom HTML
  • WebDirect data access for the client’s clients
  • Carafe web integrations

Warning Prevents Bigger Problems

The notifications from Zabbix monitoring let us know of the issue while it was still relatively small and before users experienced any catastrophic failures. That early warning enabled us to take action proactively, creating a low-stress experience for our client. Our investment in the monitoring paid off.

Identifying Problems and Potential Fixes

Problems identified in the underlying OS and infrastructure can be difficult and time intensive to troubleshoot. These can happen in complex systems, as any system administrator will tell you. Soliant.Cloud’s support team creates plans well in advance for such contingencies. This preparation is a critical element that goes into hosting applications and keeping them safe for the long term.

Hands on keyboard while processing database information; FileMaker recovery process

While a database server is operational and in use, taking steps to resolve issues are risky. These include potential changes to the Windows registry and using disk tools to make changes in an active system. You can schedule downtime when hosted databases are closed and not accessible in order to troubleshoot and fix. Or, you can spin up a new server replicating configuration and move files to that new server.

We couldn’t wait for after-hours downtime. This situation occurred a day before one of the client’s most important days when they absolutely relied on their custom business application in FileMaker. The server needed to be available, healthy, operational, and reliable. Users needed to conduct their work starting in the very early hours of the morning.

Spinning up a whole new server and transferring to it was the fastest and safest option. We could do so with a minimal outage during the workday.

Spinning Into Control

We used scriptable cloud architecture and leveraged carefully-planned server configuration for the FileMaker platform. In under an hour, we brought up a new server in the same Virtual Private Network as the current server and replicated the configuration of the production server.

After review and testing, we scheduled minimal downtime to move files in the quickest way possible. The downtime included adjustments made in supporting applications to seamlessly migrate associated backup snapshots to the new instance, making them available to the client for immediate use. Snapshots are important to this client, as their data changes significantly and rapidly throughout each day.

All this was done in the discrete AWS account dedicated to this client. This benefit is part of the greater AWS organization and managed services. The preparation and plans that support these managed services led to a day-saving, clean, and safe solution.

Protecting Your FileMaker Application

By pairing the protection of AWS managed services with a team of FileMaker experts, we help many businesses protect their mission-critical applications. To learn more about how we can help yours, contact our team.

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