Cloud / Data Center / Networking
What is a Bare Metal Server?
Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Well, it is, kind of (to us, anyway).
A bare metal server is the term used when you rent a data center server, for your exclusive use. The “bare metal” refers to the lack of software overlays (like hypervisors or OS architecture) required if the server is shared with other users. It’s just you and your hardware – the “bare metal” – plus whatever software you choose to implement.
In this blog, we are going to explore the growing trend for Bare Metal as a Service (BMaaS) – why it’s becoming a popular choice in some sectors, and how it stacks up against its virtual competitor, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
What Do You Get with BMaaS?
If you choose to rent a bare metal server from a data center (or a third party providing access to a data center server), it’s likely you’ll be charged according to your consumption. Most providers offer a tiered plan, with packages based on more or less of the following.
Computing hardware and processing power. If you’re renting a bare metal server, you’ll find that you get what you pay for when it comes to power. At the top end, you can expect an Intel Xeon CPU or a similar high-speed equivalent with as much DDR4 RAM as you can afford.
Storage. Again, when you’re paying for bare metal, the tech spec is the only real selling point, so it’s not hard to find hefty storage options available with either HDD or SSD solid-state drives onboard.
What Are the Differences Between BMaaS and IaaS?
A bare metal server gives you exclusivity, whereas with Infrastructure as a Service, you’re sharing a physical server with multiple tenants who are kept separated and secure by a hypervisor. But in what other areas do these two services diverge?
IaaS arguably has the edge when it comes to ease and speed of scale-up – as your server usage is software defined, your provider can add or reduce capacity to match your resources without affecting the performance of your existing provision.
Scaling your bare metal server requires a little more thought – any additions to your preselected package will need either a physical intervention to implement your changes, or your provider will offer to migrate your data and apps to a higher-tiered server that can accommodate your new requirements.
The physical separation BMaaS solutions provide means that compliance requirements are easier to meet. While a well-managed IaaS instance still offers high standards of regulatory compliance, the use of software to separate the multiple tenants on the server creates vulnerabilities that could be exploited.
Similar levels of connectivity performance and flexibility accompany BMaaS and IaaS, and neither service has any associated advantages or disadvantages in this regard.
Network endpoint security is included as standard with most packages. Throughput is usually accounted for on a consumption basis and will often be either allotted according to the tiered plan selected or charged according to monitored usage.
For both BMaaS and IaaS, this can vary between different providers. It’s common for the customer to have Root Level Admin Access for their server, but it’s not guaranteed. In the majority of cases, the superuser integrates the server into Active Directory rules, after which the server is accessed and users are managed as per the organization’s standard group policies.
Again, there’s little daylight between BMaaS and IaaS when it comes to management and maintenance. In both instances, the customer takes responsibility for patches and performance monitoring.
However, you can expect technical assistance and “smart hands” to be included as part of your package for these services – this is a really useful inclusion, as “smart hands” services are traditionally billed by the hour as an extra service by colocation providers.
Why Choose a Bare Metal Server?
The likeliest reason to choose a bare metal server is regulatory compliance reasons. For industries with more rigorous compliance standards, bare metal servers offer a very simple solution to what can be a complicated, costly, and time-consuming problem for an IaaS provider.
Industries such as finance, healthcare, and retail can meet the compliance standards required more easily through BMaaS.
“Noisy neighbor” issues! If an IaaS provider doesn’t ensure storage quality of service by setting limits on each customer’s input/output operations per second (IOPS), then there’s a risk that one greedy customer can make life harder by monopolizing bandwidth, disk I/O and CPU usage on your server.
This is far from the norm, but the resulting disruption and poor network performance can be enough to send customers running for the reliability and security of their own server. It never hurts to do your colocation provider research upfront.
Bare metal vs. traditional “dedicated server” options – although there’s very little difference in practical terms between BMaaS and traditional dedicated server offers, the two terms aren’t always interchangeable – solutions marketed as bare metal servers are likely to be available on a flexible, per-hour billing model, compared to the longer leasing terms of a traditional dedicated server rental.
For industries such as retail that often need to respond to seasonal fluctuations or other external factors, this added contractual flexibility can be a huge advantage.
If you’re unsure whether BMaaS or IaaS is the better option for you, why not run through your requirements with us here at Lightyear? We’ve got a dedicated team of professionals backing up our platform – and we’re trained, willing, and able to help you on your journey.
Want to learn more about how Lightyear can help you?
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