Monitoring FileMaker Server with Zabbix

Monitoring FileMaker Server with Zabbix

11/2/2020 | Jeroen Aarts

Cloud, On premises and hybrid installations of FileMaker Server

Claris is moving towards towards a Saas (Software as a Service) model. The strategy is Cloud first – but not Cloud only. Here at ClickWorks we fully support this.

Although we also believe on-premises or “own-cloud” solutions are not going to disappear soon. If you have a non FileMaker Cloud installation, one thing you want to make sure is that that your FileMaker Server runs OK, especially when you run application that are the backbone of an organisation. That is why we strongly suggest to monitor your server.

At ClickWorks we use the tool that has been set forward by Claris itself: Zabbix. Zabbix is a free, open-source monitoring tool known for its granularity and flexibility.

Monitoring with Zabbix

With Zabbix you can:

  • Monitor metrics like CPU, Memory, Disk and Network – but also FileMaker specific metrics: Cache Hit %, Remote Calls in Progress, I/O time per call, Number of FileMaker clients, …
  • Monitor your server’s status: are any problems detected, like a low Cache Hit %, long wait times per call.
  • Send notifications on problems. You can define thresholds for alerts to be send. Based on these alerts you can take timely action in case something goes wrong, like a script engine that stops.
  • Automatically recover from problems. For instance, you can run a shell script to automatically restart the web publishing engine if it fails
  • Watch Filemaker Logs, like the Access and Event logs. This feature was removed from the FileMaker Server Admin Console since version 17.

Architecture

The installation and configuration of Zabbix is very well documented on the website, so it makes sense to refer to the documentation.

Keep in mind that the Zabbix ecosystem consists of a Sever (currently only Linux installs are supported) with the Zabbix engine, front-end (PHP) and a database (MySQL or PostgresSQL), and a Zabbix agent that you install on your FileMaker Server.

We strongly advice to use encryption to secure network traffic between the Agent and Server. This can be as easy as using a shared secret or work with SSL certificates. You will find all info in the documentation.

Hosts, Templates, Items, Triggers and Actions

As stated earlier, the Zabbix documentation is extensive, so it make no sense to replicate too much here. However, in order to understand the Zabbix ecosystem, I think it is important to understand a few concepts and how they relate to FileMaker Server:

  • Hosts: these are your FileMaker Server installations. This can be one or many servers.
  • Templates: You can link templates to Hosts. Templates are the central location to define Items and Triggers. They are the containers for items that you wish to monitor on your Hosts. There are many built-in Templates, like those related to OS (Windows, Mac OS, Linux)
  • Items: these are the specific metrics you want to watch on your Host. Many of them are pre-configured in built-in templates. But you also want to watch for FileMaker Specific metrics. We have you covered: you do not have to configure these yourself, we have a few pre-made templates that you can import.
  • Triggers: based on threshold values for Items, you’ll define triggers that are the base for Acitons. For example: you can set a Trigger to fire whenever the Cache Hit % goes below 90% on your FileMaker Server, or when the Remote Calls in progress exceed 100 for more than 10 mintues. Triggers are also linked to templates.
  • Actions: Based on Triggers, you can define Actions. This can be an e-mail notificaiton or text message sent to the server administrator, or a command. Yes, you can execute for instance shell commands on you FileMaker Server. This allows you to use the fmsadmin tool. Actions are not linked to Templates.

Download our custom Zabbix Templates for FileMaker Server

All above might seem very attractive but this is where worry comes in: how on earth are you going to make this work? Sit back! Relax! We have got you covered, at least partially. You will have to configure your own Zabbix Server (on premise, AWS, …) but we have a bunch of custom templates that are free for you to download. You can simply import and work with them: build a nice looking dashboard, define Actions, … This is the download location: https://www.clickworks.eu/en/cw-filemaker-templates-zabbix/.

Good luck!

 

Jeroen Aarts
admin@donttell.be
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