How to Build Your Business Case for Bare Metal Servers?

30 Jan 2020 by Bob West

It comes as no surprise that public and private cloud is a major part of the IT infrastructure equation for most businesses. Cloud infrastructure offers flexibility, scalability, ease of use and pay-as-you-go consumption and billing. What’s not to love about the cloud? Actually, there are a few challenges that arise when building your business case for cloud computing including security, cost, and vendor lock-in.

In this article, I’ll discuss the differences between public and private cloud and bare metal servers. I’ll speak to the use cases and workloads that are a great fit for bare metal. Lastly, I’ll lay out how you can build your business case for bare metal servers in your IT environment.

Public and Private Cloud vs. Bare Metal Servers

Not all cloud infrastructure is the same. In fact, it’s quite different. In this part of the article, we will take a look at what public, private and bare metal servers are as well as the features, benefits, and downsides of each.

Public Cloud Servers

Public cloud services offer that on-demand, scalable up and down environment with pay-as-you-go pricing. They’re offered by a third-party such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and many others. We’re talking hundreds and maybe even thousands of public cloud providers.

With public cloud, customers are charged based on the CPU cycles, storage, and bandwidth they consume. It's great for some businesses and enterprise customers, others worry about multi-tenancy and security.

Private Cloud Servers

While similar to public cloud services, private clouds differ in that it provides dedicated compute resources to a single business or enterprise customer. Private cloud can be physically located on-premise, hosted in a third-party data center such as a colocation provider or provided by a cloud provider as a service.

Some cloud infrastructure architects prefer private cloud because they are known for their increased flexibility, improved security, and high scalability. This is especially true with government agencies, financial institutions, and other organizations with industry-specific regulatory or compliance requirements.

The downside to private cloud infrastructure is that it is costly. Many businesses and enterprises also find that they over-provision private cloud resources that are underutilized. That cost falls directly to the customer.

Bare Metal Servers

A bare metal server, also referred to as bare metal cloud, is a single tenant physical server. You can think of a bare metal server as being similar to a dedicated server. The customer can optimize the server according to their specific needs for performance, security and reliability.

Another big difference between public and private cloud and bare metal server is that the operating system (OS) can be installed directly on the server which eliminates layers and delivers increased performance. Further, bare metal supports multiple types of OS and hypervisors. A hypervisor is an OS that creates virtual machines (VMs) within a bare metal server.

The downside to bare metal servers is that you are committing to the compute resources of that server which somewhat limits on-demand scalability. Some bare metal providers offer flat, monthly pricing based on the server type and other features or on-demand pricing like public cloud. It really depends on the provider and the solution.

Does Bare Metal Make Sense for Your Businesses?

It’s clear that hybrid cloud, hybrid infrastructure, and multi-cloud are all the rage. You can pick up these technology buzzwords at your local jargon superstore. However, there’s a lot of merit to architecting your infrastructure in a way that meets the demands of the business, applications, security and compliance aspects of IT.

With bare metal servers, you get the best of both worlds. Bare metal delivers performance and cost-savings by combing the best parts of dedicated hardware and cloud technology. Bare metal servers are great for your significant, but short-term, processing needs. You can store, process or analyze data on a bare metal server for as long as it is necessary and then wind it down when it’s no longer needed.

Probably the best selling point of bare metal servers is that you have the ability to build your hybrid infrastructure the way that you want to. You can choose to run certain bare metal servers for applications that run better on physical infrastructure such as CRM and ERP systems and databases. You can run other bare metal servers within your environment for cloud-based applications, processing and data storage.

Use Cases and Workloads for Bare Metal Servers

Given the benefits, bare metal provides advantages for many applications. Here's a list of the top use cases for bare metal:

  • High-performance compute where overhead should be prevented and hardware is specifically tuned for performance.
  • Real-time analytics and recommendation engine clusters where specific hardware and storage is needed in real-time to support workloads.
  • Gaming where performance is needed for raw compute or 3D rendering and where the hardware is tuned to for these types of applications. Specific hardware components, high-performance NVMe-based SAN arrays are integrated.
  • Security applications where end-to-end encryption including memory, trust implementation environments is required. Hardware can leverage Intel/AMD CPUs.
  • Applications that have very high outbound bandwidth requirements such as collaboration or webRTC platforms.
  • Business cases where a dedicated compute environment is required due to policy, compliance or regulatory requirements.
  • Applications that use steady and continuous compute resources and where the hardware requirement is considerable and capital costs are concerns.

Building Your Business Case for Bare Metal

We’ve already touched on many of the benefits of bare metal servers. So how do you make your business case for bare metal? The hype around “the cloud” continues to build as more and more businesses undergo digital transformation and infrastructure modernization.

Run the Financials and Know Your Options

The beautiful thing about bare metal servers is that they offer upfront and transparent pricing. Most times, bare metal providers have an interactive configuration tool that allows you to price out different options. Check out the Datacenters.com Marketplace for bare metal server pricing. In addition, many providers offer pre-bundled bare metal servers for different customer requirements. This makes it easy to compare public and private cloud costs to bare metal.

Buy-Off From the C-Suite on Bare Metal

Getting buy-off from the C-suite is critical. Your executives do not have to be experts in cloud technologies to see the value and where bare metal fits into the equation. Find ways to educate them on the differences without getting too technical. Relate cloud speak to something more relatable. For example, public cloud is like an apartment building. Private cloud is like a single-family home. Bare metal is like a custom-built home.

Tailor your messaging and pitch to the audience. If you are speaking to CISO, talk to the many security benefits that bare metal servers have over public and private cloud services. If it’s the CFO, speak to the cost-structure of the bare metal and how it can reduce costs by scaling to demand or how you can shift expenses from capex to opex.

Leverage Cloud and Digital Transformation Buzz

Focus on how bare metal can be integrated with cloud, how it’s complimentary and part of your hybrid strategy. We discussed how “the cloud” is all of the rage so now all you have to do is relate bare metal to the cloud. You could even mention bare metal cloud instead of bare metal server.

Demonstrate How Bare Metal Solves Business

Make sure to demonstrate the benefits of bare metal vs public and private cloud. Pay special attention to how bare metal helps solve a business challenge, technology challenge or works towards achieving specific business goals or challenges. Come prepared with case-studies from other companies in similar industries that have deployed bare metal as a part of their infrastructure.

It’s All About Hybrid Infrastructure

There’s a time and a place for public cloud, private cloud, and bare metal. The best approach for most business and enterprise customers is a hybrid strategy. Public cloud makes a lot of sense for test dev and other applications. Private cloud makes a lot of sense for companies that need a dedicated instance. Bare metal makes sense for companies that want more control over their servers, operating systems (OS), and hypervisors.

Need Help Selecting a Bare Metal Cloud Provider?

We’re more than happy to help you determine the right bare metal providers, servers and configurations for your business and technology requirements. We work with all of the major bare metal providers both in the United States and Internationally. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build your IT infrastructure solution today.

Author

Bob West

Bob West is a tech-savvy, digital enthusiast with a deep-rooted passion for data centers, cloud, internet exchanges (IX) and cryptocurrency. He was a driving force within the original team that built Datacenters.com in 2011. It’s his belief that a new breed of data centers will become increasingly important as we move towards IoT, AI, and edge computing.

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