With the release of the latest generation of FileMaker Cloud, Claris has taken a big leap into cloud-based infrastructure on the FileMaker platform. However, using the name FileMaker Cloud, when there is another legacy version of FileMaker Cloud, as well as FileMaker Server on the cloud, things start to get confusing. I’ll try and outline some of the key differences in this article.

FileMaker hosting products

There are three FileMaker products to consider when hosting your FileMaker apps:

1. FileMaker Server

Available as an installer for both Mac and Windows operating systems, FileMaker Server is considered the “on premises” (on prem) version of the hosting software. While you can install this on an in-house physical server, it also easily transitions to being installed on the cloud in a virtual cloud server environment. Cloud providers like Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure both have virtual server versions of Windows Server 2016 that can run the latest FileMaker Server software.

FileMaker has noted that the on-prem version of FileMaker server is important and will continue to be developed in the future. It is the product that allows for the most control over your hosting environment.

MainSpring offers a managed hosting option for cloud-based FileMaker Servers.

2. FileMaker Cloud 1.x

Released as versions 1.15, 1.16, 1.17 and 1.18, this version of FileMaker Cloud was built as a Linux services offering on top of the Amazon AWS Marketplace. While this was a good stepping stone into a version of FileMaker Server that could run by coupling together different Linux Cloud services, it was limited by a complicated setup structure through the AWS Marketplace and Orbitera for distribution. Claris knew they could do better, so they focused on building the next version of FileMaker Cloud.

While FileMaker Cloud 1.x has officially been deprecated (see roadmap), FileMaker will be releasing 1.19 next year, as well as continuing support for all 1.x versions until January 1, 2022.

3. FileMaker Cloud 2.x

Released with version 2.18, the next gen FileMaker Cloud product is almost completely different than the predecessor. Rather than focus on trying to create a “FileMaker Server” experience on the cloud to replace the on-prem offering, Claris has focused on creating a new “one stop shop” that makes it incredibly easy to setup and deploy custom apps.

This one-stop-shop will include cloud instance fees, FileMaker user licensing, drive storage all in one accessible portal. The portal becomes an easy to use tool to manage your organization’s apps, user accounts with the new FileMaker federated ID and hosting settings.

The convenience does trade away some features though. For that we’ll cover key differences in the next section.

Key differences in FileMaker Cloud 2.0

There are several limitations and differences between FileMaker Cloud 2.0 and the other two products. Since it’s a new product, we are happy to advise developers and users on what would be the best option for them. Here are some high-level bullet points to consider:

  • Licensing – There is a major difference here. Since licensing is included in the cost of FileMaker Cloud 2.x and it is a separate product, it does not support “byol” licensing. Meaning that if you already had purchased licensing for FileMaker Server, or FileMaker Cloud 1.x, it will not convert over to FileMaker cloud 2.x.
  • Custom web publishing – There is no ability to run the legacy XML or PHP custom web publishing features. This continues to be a feature in FileMaker Server, but you will need to rewrite all custom web publishing code to use the Data API here.
  • Plugins – Plain and simple, they are not supported. Both FileMaker Cloud 1.x and FileMaker Server still support plugins, so if your apps depend on plugins to get the job done, you will need to use one of those products.
  • Remote desktop – Since it’s Linux based and very automated, you will not have a server desktop to log into like you do for on-prem. This means people running third party utilities like MirrorSync, or hosting web files in their FileMaker web server, will need to host a second server to run those third-party configurations.
  • External authentication – If you use LDAP or OAuth for authenticating users, FileMaker Cloud 2.x is not for you. Since it uses the FileMaker Federated ID for authentication, it will not support other External Authentication options.
  • Anonymous users – If you have an existing license for concurrent/anonymous users, those will not convert to FileMaker Cloud 2.x since pricing for it is heavily based on your actual user count.
  • FileMaker 18 – Your users must have the latest version of FileMaker Pro Advanced 18 or FileMaker Go 18 in order to connect to FileMaker Cloud 2.x. Any older versions of FileMaker cannot support connecting to this new product.
    • Key tip – The FileMaker ID features in FileMaker 18.0.3 are activated by adding a FileMaker Cloud 2.x server to your hosts under the File > Hosts > Show Hosts dialog.
  • Custom domains – Since FileMaker Cloud 2.x includes an SSL secured domain, custom domains and custom SSL certificates are not supported.
  • Data retention policy – Custom app data is held for 45 days after cancellation.
  • Auto-reboot – Your FileMaker Cloud 2.x host will be rebooted once per day automatically for maintenance.

Key benefits of FileMaker Cloud 2.x

Even with some differences and sacrifices, FileMaker Cloud 2.x comes with several benefits that make it a great addition to the FileMaker platform.

  • Since Claris has announced they are “cloud-first”, you can expect to see new features in FileMaker Cloud 2.x + in the years to come before they are released in corresponding FileMaker Server versions.
  • Claris takes care of the security.
    • Multi Factor Authentication
    • Included SSL Certificates
    • End to end encryption
    • Network security (whitelisting, HSM & firewall with DDoS protection)
    • Data security (auto backup)
  • Scalability is easily accomplished at all levels. User licensing, server hardware and capacity is all instantly scalable without complicated rebuilding or waiting on licensing quotes.
  • Support comes with a 1 year included support plan via a “success team”. In addition to this, monitoring and alerts are already setup by default to help keep you informed.

Still undecided?

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2 comments

  1. Just to clarify re plug-ins, are you saying they are not supported by FileMaker Cloud when running Perform Script on Server or server side schedules, or not supported at all including when used by FileMaker Pro Advanced clients connected to a solution hosted on FileMaker Cloud 2.0?

    Posted by Steve Kemp on November 3, 2019. Reply

    • Hi Steve, FileMaker Cloud 2.x can not utilize plugins at the server level as far as I am aware. So “perform script on server” and “scheduled scripts” will not have access to plugin functions. This is a change in direction, since FileMaker Cloud 1.x had the ability to run plugins and had an SDK for building plugins that ran with FileMaker Cloud 1.x on Linux.

      You’ll notice in the admin console for FileMaker Cloud 2.x that the connectors tab is missing the plugins sub-tab entirely.

      As for the client software, your subscription to FileMaker Cloud 2.x includes the full version of FileMaker Pro Advanced 18, so you can still utilize local client-side plugins. However, during the roadmap presentation at Devcon this year, Claris also shared that they are planning the ability to integrate CoreML and JavaScript directly into the product, which could potentially serve to give you plugin like functionality without the need for installing or using 3rd party plugins.

      Check out the visionary keynote at the 37 minute mark for an idea on what that looks like. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jicawU3cYVc&t=3071s

      Posted by Mike Beargie on November 4, 2019. Reply

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