What is a bare metal cloud and what is a dedicated server?
There’s a lot of confusion around the bare metal cloud concept, largely because it’s still a relatively new term, only really coming into use since 2014. Even though the popularity of dedicated servers is in decline, it’s a well-recognised term, so it’s easy to see how people start to get confused when they hear “bare metal cloud” and “dedicated server” used interchangeably.
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The reality is that bare metal cloud and dedicated servers are related, because one is part of the other. A bare metal cloud environment is made up of 1 or more single-tenant/dedicated servers. A dedicated server is a standalone server, with a given specification, that the customer has complete administrative access to.
So why not just call it dedicated or single-tenant cloud?
Probably because of the negative connotations. Dedicated servers have historically had the drawback of being manual or time-consuming to provision. This meant that if you needed an instance spun up quickly, you would want to avoid a dedicated environment as a matter of principle.
A bare metal cloud environment avoids this issue, as it automates provisioning. You can buy your kit online and get it up and running in a matter of minutes, as easily as you would with a public cloud provider like AWS. Unlike virtual machines, a bare metal cloud lets you control everything from the infrastructure upwards, but without owning or operating the wider public internet or datacentres.
What can a bare metal cloud include?
- Dedicated servers, with or without virtualised environments running (and all completely controlled and managed by you)
- Dedicated, proprietary storage devices (SANs) or dedicated parts of a multi-tenant SAN
- Dedicated switches, or dedicated ports from a multi-tenant switch
- Dedicated load balancers or firewalls, or dedicated ports from a multi-tenant load balancer or firewall.
So who is bare metal cloud right for?
You’ll always need to analyse your hosting requirements to determine which environment will best support your workload. But for a great number of workloads, a bare metal cloud represents the most flexible method of running a hosted application as it is customisable, cost-effective, and scalable.
Ok, but is bare metal cloud right for me?
Maybe, try asking yourself these questions:
- Do your team have the knowledge and capacity to manage it?
- Will it give you a technical advantage?
- Does your application need highly customised hardware?
- Will it save you money?
If your answers are generally positive, then you may want to look into controlling a bare metal environment. If there are negatives you’ll need to weigh up your technical considerations against each other or against your budget objectives.