FME Server vs. FME Cloud

Martin Koch

FME Certified Professional | FME Server Certified Professional

FME is the most functional and powerful platform for data integration. Organisations that want to make data-driven decisions and manage their business use FME or should at least consider using it. But which version of FME best suits the processes and ambitions of your organisation?

In this article, I will help you on your way and zoom in on two of the three available versions: FME Cloud and FME Server.

FME comes in three versions

For those who are not yet or less familiar with FME, here is a short explanation of the platform.
FME stands for 'Feature Manipulation Engine' and is a data integration platform that allows you to easily connect a large number of applications, transform data and automate data processes. The platform is also often used to monitor and, where possible, improve data quality.

FME is the data integration platform that offers the best support for spatial data worldwide. Add the desired location component and convert your data as you wish. The three versions available:

  • FME Desktop: provides all the functionality to run the models built in the workbench;
  • FME Server: similar to FME Desktop, but with a framework to execute the workspace based on events;
  • FME Cloud: similar to FME Server, but as an Integration Platform as a Service (iPAAS).

In a previous article I shortly discussed the differences between FME Desktop and FME Server. This time, I will mention the differences between FME Server and FME Cloud and explain the main advantages of each platform.

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What is FME Server?

With FME Server you buy a licence to run FME Server within your own infrastructure on one of the supported operating systems. This own infrastructure can be your own 'Datacenter in the cloud' on the Azure platform. You can customise an FME Server installation with additional 3rd-party software such as Esri ArcGIS.

Some applications that require an FME Server installation at your organisation:

  • Managing in-house Oracle or Esri SDE databases;
  • Publish to network shares;
  • Link GIS with ESB within the organisation.

What is FME Cloud?

With FME Cloud Safe Software offers the power of FME Server as an Integration Platform as a Service. This 'pay as you go' solution allows you to use FME Server without the burden of infrastructure and maintenance. This is a very tempting prospect, and we get a lot of questions from customers about whether FME Cloud can replace their traditional FME Server installation.

FME Cloud consists of a management environment that allows you to start, stop, and scale FME Server instances, among other things. Ultimately, these are FME Server installations managed by Safe-software (the publisher of FME) on Ubuntu Linux, hosted in the Amazon Cloud.

Some applications where FME Cloud is preferable to FME Server:

  • FME data manipulation and analysis on ArcGIS Online;
  • Integration between SaaS services like Google, SalesForce and Tableau;
  • Scalable FME Server capacity as part of an open data platform outside of your own network infrastructure.

The advantages listed

Both solutions have their own specific advantages, which automatically leave a 'gap' in the other solution. In the choice between Server and Cloud, the location of the data to be processed plays a major role. If the intended transformation processes mainly take place between in-house data systems that are protected from the outside world, a local FME Server is the best option.

Setting up secure connections between the data and the Cloud is complex and does not benefit performance. Also, if additional software components from other suppliers are required, this can only be done on a dedicated FME Server on which these components are installed and licensed.

However, when it comes to setting up services on cloud data or connecting web services, the FME Cloud is a very simple, scalable and cost-efficient alternative for setting up and maintaining your own server.

Benefits of FME Cloud

  • No management of the infrastructure, only manage the processes you have set up yourself;
  • Unlimited number of engines per server. You pay for server capacity, not the number of engines;
  • Scalable capacity, both to more and less capacity;
  • Lives among other cloud services.

Benefits of FME Server

  • The installation is with your own data, within the same secure environment;
  • Licensed 3rd party extensions possible;
  • Includes a number of Windows-only file formats (if installed on Windows).

Want to try FME or order directly?

Tensing is a certified partner of Safe Software, the developer of FME. Ordering your FME licenses through Tensing brings you several advantages:

  • No credit card required;
  • Monthly billing available;
  • Availability of Tensing Service Desk for all your questions;
  • Our FME services are always at your fingertips. We can take the FME integration off your hands and you and your colleagues can be trained by one of our certified FME coaches.

For more information or to order FME licences, please visit or request a trial directly: 

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