The Deal with Bare Metal Servers

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‘Cloud’ is definitely the biggest buzzword in the computing world these days, and while those who are tech savvy will know all about it, even the best of them may not know all of its potential applications. Cloud hosting, for example, is an alternative to having websites hosted on shared hosting or dedicated servers. Often times it’s not easy to determine what type of server is the best fit, choosing from the three main options – Shared Hosting / Dedicated Server Hosting / Cloud or Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting.

Shared hosting is by far the most common option for small businesses and individuals, and here at 4GoodHosting we’re like most Canadian web hosting providers in that most of our customers get by just fine with shared hosting plans. They consist of many websites hosted on a single server, and they offer extremely good value for money. A website on shared hosting can handle up to 30,000 visitors per month, and that’s usually no more than most sites will need. Shared hosting also has the advantage of being very simple to set up, making it ideal for the beginner or non-technical user. The packages typically will come with unlimited bandwidth as well.

Dedicated server hosting is quite different, with a single server hosting the website(s) or application(s) of a single user. The dedicated server’s advantage is that the entire server is geared for optimum performance because you have the entirety of it to yourself. Yes, dedicated hosting can be expensive, but that vast amount of processing power means it’s worth the expense if fast page-load times, a dedicated IP, and the ability to handle a lot of traffic – as many as 100,000 visitors per month – are important to you. In addition, dedicated servers are very secure and will allow multiple IPs for services that need to be kept separate.

Moving on to cloud hosting, also known as virtual private server (VPS) hosting, we can say it’s probably the most difficult to describe of the three. To summarize it, it’s like having access to nearly unlimited resources and you access as many or as few of them as you need at any given time. It’s kind of like the best of both worlds; you get the wealth of computing resources that you’d get with a single dedicated server, but for the affordable price of shared hosting. All with real scalability and flexibility included also.

VPS hosting is also good for the more technically inclined out there, because of all the customization you can do if you know what you’re doing.

Bare Metal Servers

There’s a new hosting alternative on the scene now, however, and that’s bare metal server hosting. It’s a relatively recent development that offers a hybrid solution, providing performance and cost-effectiveness by pairing the best parts of dedicated hardware and cloud technology at the same time. They’re not entirely new, and some say they’re just a reinvention of dedicated servers. However, the way they integrate with cloud-based technologies makes them different from dedicated servers by offering increased flexibility and cost control.

Bare metal servers aren’t virtual servers, they’re ‘physical’ ones and they are ‘single tenant’ – each one belongs to a single customer. No matter if it’s running any amount of work for the customer or has multiple simultaneous users, a bare metal server is dedicated to that one customer renting it exclusively. And unlike servers found in data centres, bare metal servers are not shared between multiple customers.

Significant but short-term processing needs is where a bare metal server shines. Data can be stored, processed or analyzed on a server for as long as needed, and when it’s no longer needed then the server can be wound back down. This means resources aren’t wasted, and you’re not running the server for longer than necessary.

This is quite different from VPS hosting or cloud servers. With those there is a typical cloud server infrastructure, and dozens of virtual machines could be running on the same physical server. Each will have its own processing requirements too. Bare metal servers are single-tenant, so resources are allocated to that one user exclusively, and they can count on guaranteed higher performance.

No Hypervisor = Superior Performance

The hypervisor layers is another term only the most tech savvy of you will be aware of. It’s the virtual machine monitor which creates and runs VMs, and manages the execution of the guest operating systems. Bare metal servers eliminate this layer and this lets them offer higher performance. Keeping a hypervisor running drains resources and this inevitably leads to a degradation in performance on cloud servers. Bare metals servers have no hypervisor layer because they are dedicated, physical machines.

From a technical perspective, a bare metal server is the same as a dedicated server for all intents and purposes. It offers the same high-performance resources that are dedicated to one user, but has the advantage of flexible, pay-as-you-use billing and you’re not signed to any contracts for your web hosting.

All About the Hybrid

Bare metal servers shine even more when they’re combined with a more traditional cloud infrastructure. Those with an existing cluster of virtual machines hosting their website can then link a bare metal server to your VMs and have them work in unison.

High-performance bare metal servers are strongly suited for situations where companies need to perform short-term, data-intensive functions without being slapped with any overhead performance penalties, such as typically will be the case with high-volume data processing. Before them, organizations couldn’t move these workloads into the cloud without being forced to accept lowered performance levels. Bare metal servers have changed that.

A bare metal / cloud hybrid solution may be something your business or organization would like to look into, as it pairs virtualized cloud services with a dedicated server environment that can eliminate the hypervisor overhead without giving up your flexibility, scalability and efficiency.

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