If you already use FME Desktop and are looking for a data integration platform to automate and standardize your data management and processing tasks, look no further than FME Server. It is the perfect solution for your organization’s processes, from GIS data to everything else.
But to successfully implement FME Server, you need to draw up a plan that factors in both your current and future needs and can work with your existing GIS environment (Esri or something else) and with your corporate IT architecture. The unfortunately common “next, next, next” installation approach just won’t cut it.
Lessons learned over the years
Since we started implementing FME Server in 2008, we have become keenly aware that the GIS and the IT teams need to work together to come up with a plan that covers everything from configuration to the administration of the platform. We learned to take this step very seriously the hard way, after being called to rescue clients that tried to install FME Server without carefully determining and structuring the main technological components first. Believe us when we tell you, you do not want to deal with a situation like this!
As far as responsibilities go, the IT team usually lays down the plan for servers, networks, ports, security and, in some cases, governance compliance. And of course, because FME Server is used by GIS and data experts primarily, these professionals offer essential input to make sure the system is configured to do what they need it to do. They may, for instance, be asked about existing GIS systems and other applications and databases that will connect to FME Server.
Interested? Here are the five main steps to keep in mind.
1. Carrying out a pre-installation assessment
Before installing FME Server, take the time to assess your needs and environment, and make sure the scope of your assessment reflects the complexity of the new system. FME Server is an application for businesses that can be installed on a single server or on different computers and be set to “fault tolerance,” or “high availability.” It can also be deployed on the cloud or on‑premises.
Before making any choices, you should:
Think about how you plan to use FME Server (types of formats and connected applications, types of automation, expected response time, deployment across multiple environments, etc.);
Go over the components and the main installation options (single server, database, web services, ports, high availability, etc.);
Decide on your IT environment needs (machine requirements, security, data distribution, configuration, etc.).
2. Installing FME Server
As you may have guessed, this step involves installing and configuring FME Server in the environment of your choice. If you are going for multiple environments, this is also when you should determine the optimal order of steps.
In the case of a typical simple installation, you will:
Install FME Server (generally speaking, you’re going to need the help of an IT specialist);
Set basic configurations to ensure FME Server suits your organization’s business and technical needs (email, SSL certificate, Active Directory, etc.);
Gather documentation: ideally, all installation and configuration steps will be documented to help with any future updates.
3. Administering FME Server
As we mentioned before, FME Server is an application for businesses that requires an architecture and deployment strategy, which is usually defined at the pre-installation assessment stage. If you want to take full advantage of FME Server, you will also want to put in place a platform management strategy to ensure performance and security over time.
We offer a two-day FME Server – Administration training to give you a solid foundation to build upon.
4. Using FME Server
In order to organize and orchestrate your data processing and integrate it with other systems and applications, you’re usually going to need to deploy workspaces developed in FME Desktop to FME Server.
In addition, with FME Server’s new Automations features, you can trigger chains of processes in many ways, including:
Self-service: Access to FME processing, downloads, and uploads of data for users both internal and external to the request;
Real-time: Immediate reaction to triggers to perform automatic updates or send notifications instantly;
Schedules: Planned dates and times to run FME workspaces.
To get the best out of this platform, a course has been specifically developed to teach you how to create and run workflows in FME Server.
5. Defining FME Server governance and best practices
As they say, you don’t know what you don’t know, and this is particularly true of everything FME Desktop and FME Server have to offer. It is not always easy to predict just how far these tools will take you, so you should be prepared to revisit and adjust your strategies and rules for creating workspaces and running the platform.
As you use FME more and more, it is perfectly natural to find yourself managing an increasing number of workspaces and having to orchestrate with FME Server. Here are a few things to consider when you eventually come to the step of defining your FME Desktop and FME Server governance strategy and best practices:
Stakeholder roles and responsibilities, and related competencies and tasks;
Workspace categories and creation protocols (naming conventions, annotations, documentation, etc.);
FME Server administration (integration into your IT architecture, system size, required performance and number of engines);
Workspace version management rules;
Deployment and migration strategy for multiple environments (production, testing, development).
As you can see, implementing FME Server can range from simple enough to relatively complex. Wherever you are on that spectrum, you should take some time before you get the ball rolling to understand your needs and make sure it is smooth sailing later on. Rest assured, however, that it’s perfectly natural to course-correct as you go. It is all about finding that balance!