FME Flow vs. FME Flow Hosted

David Eagle

Director of Service Delivery | FME Certified Trainer

FME is the most functional and powerful platform for data integration. Many organisations that want to make data-driven decisions are already using FME, so maybe you should consider it too. But which Enterprise product deployment of FME best suits your organisation's processes and ambitions? In this article, I will help you get started and zoom in to the detail of two of the three available products of the FME Platform: FME Flow and FME Flow Hosted.

FME: Three different products

For those unfamiliar with FME, or who perhaps haven't used it much, let's start with a quick overview. FME stands for 'Feature Manipulation Engine' and is a data integration platform that allows you to effortlessly connect a vast number of applications, transform data, and automate data workflows. It's also commonly used to monitor and, where possible, improve data quality. FME boasts the world's best support for spatial data. Simply add the desired location component and convert your data as needed.

The FME Platform includes 3 products:

  • FME Form (formerly FME Desktop): provides all the functionality to run the models built in the workbench. FME Form is the authoring environment.
  • FME Flow (formerly FME Server): the enterprise product, built for enterprise integration and offering a framework to execute your workspaces, authored with FME Form, based on an event, such as a schedule or a database event.
  • FME Flow Hosted (formerly FME Cloud): resembles FME Flow really closely, but instead as an Integration Platform as a Service (iPAAS), hosted and monitored by Tensing.

What is FME Flow?

With FME Flow, you purchase a licence to run it within your own infrastructure on a supported operating system. This on-premises infrastructure could be your own hardware or your "data centre in the cloud" such as on the Azure or AWS platform. You can customise your FME Flow installation as required by adding third-party software like ESRI ArcGIS or configure all aspects of the product. Here are some common applications that might necessitate an FME Flow installation within your organisations platform:

  • Manage in-house Oracle or ESRI Enterprise databases;
  • Publishing to network shares inside your organisation;
  • You need to offer a highly available service with resilience through spreading the infrastructure across multiple machines.

What is FME Flow Hosted?

FME Flow Hosted, as its name suggest, is a solution that allows you to leverage FME Flow's capabilities without the burden of infrastructure and maintenance. It's an attractive proposition, and we receive many enquiries from customers about whether FME Flow Hosted can replace their traditional FME Flow installation, to remove the cost of the platform and the need to maintain the infrastructure.

FME Flow Hosted can be offered flexibly as either a pay-as-you-go model, where we can configure “on time” for the service, where your data processing windows are short and efficient. Alternatively, if you need to offer hosted data integration around the clock we can also offer an annual plan where FME Flow Hosted is available around the clock. Behind the scenes this type of FME Flow deployment is managed and monitored by Tensing on Ubuntu Linux, hosted in the Amazon Cloud.

Here are some scenarios where FME Flow Hosted is preferable to a traditional FME Flow installation:

  • FME data manipulation and analysis on ArcGIS Online;
  • Integration between SaaS services like Google, Salesforce, Tableau;
  • Scalable FME Flow capacity as part of an open data platform beyond proprietary network infrastructure;
  • Enterprise data integration with pay-as-you-go flexibility.

FME Flow vs. FME Flow Hosted: Understanding the Advantages

While each solution offers distinct differences to each other, the system that is the best fit to you, will likely be because of a reason unique to your needs.

The location of your data plays a crucial role in choosing between FME Flow and FME Flow Hosted. If the bulk of your transformations involve internal data systems shielded from external access, a local FME Flow installation is likely the better option. Establishing secure connections between on-premises data and the cloud can be complex and may hinder performance. Additionally, if you require third-party software components from proprietary or open-source providers, these can often only be integrated with a private FME Flow installation where they are licensed and installed.

Conversely, for processing cloud-based data or facilitating connections between web services, FME Flow Hosted shines as a straightforward, scalable, and cost-effective alternative to an in-house server.

Advantages FME Flow:

  • The installation resides alongside your own data, within the same secure environment;
  • Compatible with licensed third-party extensions such as Esri;
  • Supports a wider range of Windows-specific file formats when installed on Windows.

Advantages FME Flow Hosted:

  • No infrastructure management required, just manage the processes you set up and let Tensing do the rest;
  • Unlimited engines per deployment. You pay for server capacity, not engine count, so the larger instance you specify, the more concurrent jobs you’ll be able to run;
  • Scalable capacity – easily scale up or down as needed with support from Tensing;
  • Integrates seamlessly with other cloud services.

Explore FME Capabilities: Try it Out Now

Tensing is a certified partner and Value-Added Reseller (VAR) of Safe Software, the developer of FME. Ordering your FME licenses through Tensing will bring you some benefits:

  • No credit card required for FME Flow Hosted purchases;
  • Monthly billing monitoring on your behalf;
  • Availability of Tensing’s Service Desk for all your questions day-to-day;
  • Our FME Coach service is always at your fingertips. For example, we can take the FME integration off your hands, work with you in partnership or you and your colleagues could be trained by one of our Certified FME Trainers.

We are here for you! For more information or to enquire about an FME Platform licence visit our FME Software page or request an FME trial period right away.

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