Bare Metal Servers: Key Benefits and Considerations

21 Sep 2021 by Bryan Smalley

A bare metal server is a computer server that gets assigned for use to a single client. Essentially, bare metal solutions allow customers to lease hardware from providers to use as they see fit. This differs greatly from virtual servers, which can potentially run multiple different software applications on the same piece of hardware. A bare metal server can run any amount of work needed by a client and have multiple users within an organization, but the hardware remains dedicated entirely to the organization that is renting it. In this article, we’ll review the benefits of bare metal servers and who’s offering the most bang for your buck.

Why choose Bare Metal Servers?

Bare metal servers are very similar to dedicated servers in that they are both single-tenant machines. This type of machine provides users with total access to the hardware. It is possible to have such access as single-tenant machines do not use a hypervisor layer - layers that create a virtual machine (VM) and place it on the server. To eliminate the requirement for layers, the operating system is loaded straight onto the server. This direct loading results in some of the most high-performance servers on the market.

With bare metal servers, there is an ability to configure the processor, memory (unshared), and storage. VMs do not have the same ability because the providers control the hardware.

Both these servers provide users with stable performance because the hardware is powering their applications and web hosting solely. The critical difference between bare metal and a dedicated server boils down to how flexible the contract is and the quality of the hardware.

You get high-spec processors, RAM, NVMe solid-state drives, and other hardware products with bare metal servers. Dedicated servers do not come with these high-end capabilities.

Bare Metal vs. IaaS

Bare metal servers are a subset of IaaS, but they offer different service levels even though they share the same cloud characteristic. IaaS is utilizing virtual resources, as do bare metal servers that use dedicated servers.

With both IaaS and bare metal servers, you can use the operating system and apps of your choosing. The difference between the two is that IaaS does not afford you any infrastructure control. It is the provider who manages infrastructure, with your business being limited within the restrictions of a virtual environment.

On the other hand, bare metal servers allow your business to configure a dedicated server in the fashion you choose. It gives you control to install VMs and hypervisors as you wish.

Cost

Bare-metal servers give organizations extremely flexible billing options. You only pay for the time you use them, and many providers even offer a pay-by-the-hour option.

For IT solutions, you essentially have two options as to how you buy servers—purchasing them outright so that you are the owner, which involves a capital outlay, or renting server capacity on an ongoing basis. The latter option is paid as part of your operating costs.

Making a capital purchase is risky in the IT environment, as you don't know how your business or the environment will change in the following few years. This uncertainty can lead to you purchasing the wrong hardware or specifications.

With bare metal solutions, you have flexibility in your operational costs, and you will always have updated hardware and applications. You will also be able to keep hold of your capital with this option.

Compliance and Security

Bare metal servers address compliance and security issues better than VMs because it provides a single-tenant environment. Bare metal servers will provide you with an improved application and data performance while maintaining high-level security.

When there is no virtualization, there is no overhead for a hypervisor, so the performance benefits. Most virtual environments and cloud solutions come with security risks. You have no security concerns on a single-tenant platform because all the resources are allocated to one user.

Virtual environments can also suffer security issues if stringent industry regulations bound you. Understanding these regulations is essential to providing adequate protection to sensitive data. With bare metal servers, you have a solution that is configurable to regulated workloads.

Dedicated Resources

As previously mentioned, having bare metal and dedicated hardware offers you an advantage. Dedicated servers mean there is no sharing of storage, connection, or bandwidth. It also affords better privacy and security as your data is confined from other tenants.

An environment such as this is beneficial for businesses that hold personal data or a high volume of data, requiring predictable and constant resources. It provides a higher level of processing than VMs as well as improved performance.

For massive databases, game servers, rendering, software development, data analytics, transcoding, website hosting, machine learning, artificial intelligence, or planning application services, dedicated servers are an excellent solution. If your requirements are data-heavy, a dedicated server is a choice to make.

In a virtual environment, there are instances when you could experience the 'noisy neighbor.' This situation arises when VMs are competing for resources. Having dedicated hardware will provide you with the same ability to scale, the same flexibility and efficiency as VM clouds, but with none of the hassle of sharing resources.

Dedicated servers can be configured to your needs, such as RAM requirements, processor, amount of storage, etc. The power of a dedicated server ranges from moderate to high, and they come with huge memories, allowing you to make your dedicated server as powerful as you need. The customized configuration also allows you to use any bare metal OS you want, adding your choice's control panels and software.

Choosing a Solution

Browsing the offerings of cloud solution providers and comparing offerings is the best way to ensure that you’ve made the right decision for your organization. However, some businesses don’t have to the time or resources for that kind of exercise. Scheduling a conversation with an IT advisor is another good way to make sure that a particular solution is right for you. Below is a list of a few providers who offer exceptional bare metal solutions. 

Equinix

Right now, one of the industry leading bare metal solutions is currently being offered by Equinix. As one of the world’s leading digital infrastructure companies, utilizing their Equinix Metal offering allows you to take advantage of their unmatched global reach on connectivity ecosystem. They have over 200+ data centers in their portfolio and their solutions can help your cloud services meet exacting requirements in the most efficient way possible.

PhoneixNap

PhoenixNAP is an award-winning global IT services provider, offering cutting-edge technology solutions from strategic locations worldwide that are easy-to-deploy, come at affordable OpEx payment options, quick response times, and a strong up-time. They've built their bare metal cloud offering to help clients deploy and manage physical servers with cloud-like ease and simplicity. They offer an intuitive purchasing experience, allowing you spin up servers with a couple of clicks. 

Author

Bryan Smalley

Bryan is offering over 27+ years of progressive IT support and management. Demonstrated success in leading large scale IT projects with globally dispersed teams. He has a keen understanding of business strategy, objectives and requirements and architecting/implementing the right solutions to meet or exceed your companies needs. Highly organized and decisive, adept at leading and motivating technical professionals in team-oriented environments. Bryan is an Out-of-the-Box thinker, intuitive and always seeking ways of bettering your business while reducing overhead.

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