FME Flow vs FME Flow Hosted

Dami Obasa
Dami Obasa
  • Updated


FME Flow (formerly FME Server) enhances FME Form’s data integration capabilities with an enterprise solution that has three core capabilities: the ability to self-serve, real-time processing and automation of large data handling tasks. 

FME Flow Hosted (formerly FME Cloud) is Safe Software’s hosted deployment option for FME Flow. With FME Flow Hosted, Safe Software deploys FME Flow on AWS for you and looks after your hardware infrastructure for you. 

Both FME Flow and FME Flow Hosted share a common code base, so FME Flow's functionality is almost identical. There are benefits and disadvantages to each of these options. In this article, we will be exploring both FME Flow and FME Flow Hosted to ensure administrators know which deployment best suits their current organizational structure. 


Important points to consider before considering FME Flow or FME Flow Hosted

Data Storage 

An important point to consider is where your data currently resides.  If your data is stored on-premise, then FME Flow Hosted would require on-premise database ports to be open to the public cloud instance. If your data already exists in a public cloud, then the migration will be easier, but you cannot have an FME Flow Hosted instance hosted within an administrator's network. However, regardless of which deployment type is utilized, ensuring your data is stored close to the engines limits latency and networking issues. 

Data Compliance

Another consideration with data includes its compliance. In order to utilize your data in a cloud environment, you need to ensure it meets the compliance requirements (e.g. GDPR, HIPPA..) 

Data Security 

We cannot discuss data without its security. With FME Flow, administrators will be responsible for configuring FME Flows in-transit and at rest. However, due to the shared cloud responsibility, a large aspect of securing data with FME Flow Hosted is covered by the cloud providers. 

Data Formats 

FME Flow Hosted does not support formats that require third-party applications to be installed on the same system, SDE being the prime example. There are a few other Windows-only formats that cannot be supported as well. Please have a look at our formats page to check on the supported formats of FME Flow Hosted.


When deploying FME Flow Hosted, you only have the option to deploy on a single instance, while those instances do utilize the AWS built-in redundancy, you do not have the flexibility that FME Flow provides. FME Flow can provide a range of installation architectures from multi-machine fault-tolerant deployments to simple, but effective express installations.


The main difference between FME Flow Hosted and FME Flow is that FME Flow has a capital expenditure model, where you have to buy the hardware and software outright vs capital operational model of FME Flow Hosted, where a monthly fee is required. FME Flow, however, does have CPU Engines, which means engine time is bought on demand vs owning a permanent engine license. 

Costs are easily optimized in FME Flow Hosted as administrators can scale down instances if costs get too high and are only charged the resources they use. FME Flow Hosted also provides multiple avenues to save costs for administrators. 


Administrators on both FME Flow and FME Flow Hosted can scale their systems. This process is much easier on the cloud as it does have features that allow administrators to determine very quickly what type of infrastructure they want to upscale to. Also, with the ability to schedule or turn on/off FME Flow Hosted instances, FME Flow Hosted allows administrators to easily increase or decrease their infrastructure’s capabilities based on their usage. This ability to scale allows administrators to leverage powerful resources (Note: Scaling infrastructure does require some downtime).

Finally, with FME Flow Hosted, you can add engines on additional machines connected to the original instance if you want to scale horizontally. Resizing an in-house instance is also an option if you are virtualizing your environment. Additionally, with FME Flow, if you have the hardware to handle more engines, then using CPU time engines can allow for quick scalability.


Administrators of FME Flow need to have a high technical understanding of the hardware used to host FME Flow as they will be responsible for managing every single aspect of the technology, including a lot of the external security. For more information, see Getting Started with FME Flow Administration


FME Flow administrators have full control over their infrastructure and can determine when and how they want to integrate services such as security, instance sizing, and other networking services. 

FME Flow Hosted administrators do not have full access to every component of FME Flow Hosted’s infrastructure, which could limit the amount of customization available but makes upgrading FME Flow Hosted simpler than upgrading FME Flow.

FME Flow Hosted also has native cloud monitoring services that provide administrators with real time metrics that are beneficial for troubleshooting issues or noticeable differences in the application’s performance. Administrators are required to monitor their own resources when using FME Flow. 

Difference Between FME Flow and FME Flow Hosted

Feature FME Flow FME Flow Hosted
Hardware Users have complete control of hardware infrastructure Hardware infrastructure is completely handled by Safe Software through a cloud provider
Scaling Scaling of the infrastructure is up to your organization Scaling infrastructure is completely virtual and can be completed via a web interface
Security Security of the infrastructure is entirely handed by the users Security is shared by both the users and FME Flow Hosted 
Cloud Monitoring Cloud monitoring is completely handled by the users Cloud monitoring is handled by FME 
Backups Backups of data are manual and must be done by the users Automatic backup systems are in place through FME with the use of daily snapshots and database replicas 
Logins FME Flow has LDAP Active Directory, SAML, and Azure Active Directory support FME Flow Hosted does not have LDAP active directory support, but still supports SAML and Azure Active Directory
Version Control FME Flow supports the use of version control systems FME Flow Hosted only supports repositories accessible to the FME Flow Hosted instance e.g Github
Service URL Name FME Flow allows you to rename service URL Service URL cannot be renamed with FME Flow Hosted
Engines Engines can be purchased as a permanent license or by CPU time, where you are only charged for the CPU that is used. You can have unlimited engines with FME Flow Hosted for the duration they are needed
Python Python is supported on FME Flow  Python 2 is not supported on FME Flow Hosted as of FME Flow 2021.0. Python 3 is fully supported and you can upload Python modules the same as a standard FME Flow deployment. 


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