Bare Metal vs Cloud Server: Which Server Solution is Right for You?

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Bare Metal vs. Cloud

Key Takeaways

  • Servers are the foundation of the Internet and a critical part of modern business.
  • Bare metal servers and cloud servers are the two prevalent server technologies.
  • Bare metal servers are physical servers set up on-premises or leased. They are also often called traditional dedicated servers.
  • Cloud servers are virtual servers or cloud environments sharing the resources of a physical server.
  • Bare metal vs cloud servers is a prominent debate in the tech community.
  • Bare metal servers typically outperform cloud servers due to dedicated hardware. They are also highly customizable and more secure.
  • Cloud servers are more budget-friendly than bare metal and are easy to deploy and scale.
  • Bare metal and cloud servers can be used in a hybrid model to get the best of both technologies.

Server infrastructure is critical to success in the digital age. Almost every established business has an online presence hosted on a server somewhere right now. 71% of all businesses, to put a number on it. An organization’s digital existence hinges on its server infrastructure. Without robust servers, the Internet as we know it would cease to function.

Currently, two main types of servers are commonly used: Bare metal servers and Cloud servers. You must have doubtlessly heard of one or the other over the years as technology has developed, but what exactly are they?

In this blog, we will go over bare metal vs cloud servers, exploring their unique features to help you make an informed decision.

Table of Contents

  1. Key Takeaways
  2. What is a Bare Metal Server?
  3. What is a Cloud Server?
  4. Bare Metal Servers vs. Cloud Servers
    1. Performance
    2. Pricing
    3. Server Deployment
    4. Scalability
    5. Server Maintenance and Upkeep
    6. Customization and Control
    7. Cybersecurity and Regulatory Compliance
  5. The Blurring Lines Between Bare Metal Servers and Cloud Servers
  6. Conclusion
  7. FAQs

What is a Bare Metal Server?

What is a Bare Metal Server?

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A bare metal server can best be defined as a physical computing machine typically dedicated to a single tenant. A tenant in the server context is a client that has access to and use of a server. In single-tenant situations, a business exclusively uses a server’s resources and can directly control hardware and software.

Bare metal servers are typically hosted either on-premises or through server hosting services. This means businesses either buy the hardware and set up the server on business grounds or lease the server from Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers.

What is a Cloud Server?

What is a Cloud Server?

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Cloud servers are virtual servers created on a bare metal server. This idea may seem confusing on the surface, so let us explain.

Cloud servers use virtualization technology to create Virtual Machines (VMs). A virtual machine is a digital server that operates on a portion of a physical server’s computing resources.

In the cloud server market, providers set up bare metal servers and, through virtualization, divide each server into multiple VMs. Each VM is then rented out to tenants. Notable cloud services include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.

There are three main types of cloud servers: public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid. You can learn about them in detail in our publication, Learn About the 3 Types of Cloud Computing: Public, Private, Hybrid.

Bare Metal Servers vs. Cloud Servers

Bare metal and cloud servers are two approaches to address server requirements. Businesses can either buy or lease the physical hardware or rent out a portion of physical hardware as a VM.

As for which one your business should use, that is entirely up to your unique circumstances. Below is a detailed comparison of bare metal vs cloud servers to give you an idea of what each is capable of.

Remember that both cater to unique needs and are optimal for different use cases. As such, there is no “correct” answer, only the best answer for your specific situation.

Performance

Performance

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Bare metal servers are excellent for performance. With a bare metal server, you have all of the server’s resources at your disposal. All the RAM, CPU processing power, and storage capacity are for your purposes only.

All of that hardware can be leveraged to fulfill your needs. They can be custom-built to suit the business’ needs and deliver consistent performance. Predictability is also essential when discussing performance, as some businesses depend on performance predictability for daily operations.

Performance for the cloud depends on many factors. Cloud servers are more rigid, only allowing businesses to avail a decided portion of server resources in the cloud computing environment. While their performance can be as strong as bare metal, there is always some performance loss due to virtualization overhead.

Because cloud servers are built on the principle of sharing physical hardware among multiple VMs, they are also susceptible to the noisy neighbor phenomenon.

The noisy neighbor phenomenon is when a neighboring VM in your cloud server starts dipping into your share of the resources. Imagine 30% of server resources are at your disposal; the other 70% is with another tenant. On a hectic day, your neighbor needs 80-90% of the server’s resources.

This creates a situation where you compete with them for the server’s resources. Not only does this negatively impact your server performance, but it also creates problems for your neighbor. This tendency to create a tug-of-war over resources between VMs is of critical importance. Businesses that cannot afford server downtime or disruption may not want to risk the problems that come with cloud servers.

Also Read: What Is a Tenant in Cloud Computing? The Pros and Cons of Being a Tenant in Cloud Computing

Pricing

Pricing

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Bare metal servers are typically more expensive, demanding a hefty initial investment to set up the required infrastructure. If hosting on-premises, unavoidable costs include space, hardware, maintenance, and infrastructure like custom HVAC for cooling. Dedicated bare metal servers are an unappealing choice for startups and businesses on a tight budget.

Bare metal server hosting is one way to avoid the brunt of the costs while still enjoying the benefits of having your own server. In a hosted environment, you pay a service provider to use their hardware for your needs. They supply the hardware and infrastructure, as well as manage maintenance. All you have to do is agree to a recurring payment for hosting.

Bare metal servers can be relatively cost-effective in the long run, as they lend themselves to predictable pricing.

Cloud servers are more affordable in pricing, as most providers operate on a pay-as-you-go model. This means that you only pay for the resources you use, which can be especially helpful with unpredictable workloads. Seasonal businesses are a case where cloud servers shine. These businesses can pivot to a low-resource budget VM during the off-season and ramp up server power as the season starts.

Server Deployment

Server Deployment

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Bare metal servers are at a disadvantage when it comes to deployment. They typically need a few days for hardware procurement, setup, and configuration. In contrast, cloud servers come ready to deploy and can instantly be put to use. Rapid deployment allows businesses to maintain momentum and seamlessly add on more servers as the need grows.

Bare metal server hosting, yet again, is an excellent way to sidestep this issue. Bare metal server hosting providers have multiple servers ready to deploy immediately as soon as an order is received. Take our bare metal servers here at RedSwitches, for example. We offer instant deployment after payment confirmation, with consistent support to help configure the machine to your needs.

Scalability

Scalability

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Between bare metal vs cloud servers, the latter is unmatched in the scalability department. Compared to cloud servers, bare metal servers are complex to sort out. They take a few days at minimum to deploy on-premises.

Another issue is the cost, as scaling demands businesses buy more expensive machines to accommodate growth. If the business needs to downsize, the excess servers are shut down to cut electricity and cooling costs.

Even when not in use, these servers must be regularly maintained, which adds more costs. On-premises servers are not a great choice for businesses that have unpredictable revenue, especially seasonal businesses.

Cloud servers, in contrast, are designed for efficient scalability. If a business needs more server power, they can rent out another VM and divide the rising workload between them. If there is a pause in business, the extra VM can be let go, saving money. This versatility makes cloud servers optimal for businesses with unpredictable revenue.

Server Maintenance and Upkeep

Server Maintenance and Upkeep

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Maintenance is a tricky subject in the bare metal vs cloud server debate context. Bare metal servers demand attention, with the business responsible for all maintenance and management.

Whether it be cleaning the hardware, upgrading or replacing components or software updates, it needs to be done by the business. Typically, these things would be left to dedicated professionals, but that is an added cost that smaller businesses would prefer not to pile on.

Cloud servers are so popular because they demand zero maintenance. The rent paid for them includes maintenance costs, and cloud server providers have dedicated tools and techniques to maintain hardware optimally.

Customization and Control

Customization and Control

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Weighing bare metal vs cloud servers in the customization department tips the scales in favor of bare metal. When you own the server, you have complete control over what components and software it uses. You have total freedom to customize the server to fit the business’s exact needs.

For example, perhaps the server is needed for machine learning activities. Finding a cloud server provider that can meet such a server’s unique requirements is challenging. With bare metal servers, you can buy optimal components and get started.

This is the big tradeoff that comes with cloud servers. Cloud setups restrict control, only allowing customization at the software level. While this is sufficient for some purposes, other activities demand hardware unlikely to be found in pre-built cloud configurations.

Cybersecurity and Regulatory Compliance

Cybersecurity and Regulatory Compliance

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Cybersecurity is robust across the bare metal vs cloud comparison. Cloud providers take extra care in server security, putting measures in place to isolate VMs and prevent external attacks. Both private and public cloud providers invest heavily in ensuring the cloud servers are as secure as possible. That said, there is still risk in shared resource situations in cloud servers.

Bare metal servers allow you to take matters into your own hands and configure your security how you want. Due to their single-tenant nature, bare metal servers are inherently advantageous since there is no potential threat from neighboring VM tenants.

Some regulations also demand businesses enforce specific security measures. The finance and medical industry are well-known for this, and need bare metal servers to isolate and protect sensitive personal records of customers.

Also Read: Data Privacy vs Data Security: How Are They Different?

To help you follow along with the bare metal vs cloud comparison, here is a handy table encapsulating the debate:

Bare Metal Servers vs. Cloud Servers

The Blurring Lines Between Bare Metal Servers and Cloud Servers

Bare metal vs cloud servers is an intense debate with no correct answer. Both options are incredibly robust, and the lines between them have begun to blur as time goes on. Some businesses have taken to implementing a hybrid server deployment strategy. Hybrid deployment involves commissioning cloud servers for ordinary tasks and bare metal servers for mission-critical processes.

Businesses also create multiple VMs on an on-premises bare metal server to separate use cases. A typical example would be dividing resources to run an email and database server on the same hardware in two separate VMs. This virtualized bare metal server offers the flexibility of the cloud and bare metal reliability.

This hybridity of use demonstrates that businesses need not pick one or the other. They can use such clever strategies to utilize the strong points of each and achieve optimal efficiency across the organization.

Conclusion

With that, our bare metal vs cloud comparison comes to a close. While there is no definitive verdict on an objective winner, this should help you choose what is best for your business.

Dedicated server hosting services are great for getting the best of both worlds. They allow you to lease a server just for yourself and allow VM set-up for cloud computing. RedSwitches offers cheap dedicated servers that offer the best bang for your buck. Businesses can deploy servers from a wide selection of hardware options, starting from just €40/month.

Whether you choose bare metal, cloud, or a hybrid of the two, one thing is for sure. Investing in servers and setting up your online presence is a requirement to succeed going forward. Businesses that do not realize and leverage the power of servers and the internet miss out on a crucial advantage. Invest in servers, expand your digital presence, and enter the world of tomorrow.

FAQs

Q. What is the primary difference between bare metal and cloud servers?

The primary difference is that a bare metal server provides a physical server environment, while cloud servers are designed for the virtual environment. A bare metal server is a physical machine dedicated to single-client use. Cloud servers are virtualized servers created using hypervisor technology on a shared physical infrastructure.

Q. What are the pros and cons of bare metal servers?

Bare metal offers enhanced customization, computing power, and security. In exchange, the upfront cost is high, and maintenance and scalability can be problematic.

Q. What are the pros and cons of cloud servers?

The cloud offers excellent flexibility, scalability, and easy deployment. Due to resource sharing, performance suffers and there is less customization available.

Q. Can you scale resources quickly with bare metal vs. public cloud servers?

Cloud servers are easier to scale because cloud infrastructure is highly malleable, allowing quick resource allocation and removal. Scaling bare metal servers often requires manual intervention.

Q. Which is more cost-effective: bare metal vs cloud providers?

Cloud servers can be more cost-effective for variable workloads due to their pay-as-you-go pricing, whereas bare metal servers may be cheaper for consistent, high-demand workloads over time.

Q. What are the security differences between bare metal and cloud computing servers?

Bare metal and cloud computing are equally secure. Bare metal servers offer physical isolation, enhancing security, while cloud servers provide robust security measures but share physical resources with other tenants.

Q. Do bare metal servers require more maintenance than public and private cloud servers?

Bare metal servers require more maintenance as users are responsible for hardware upkeep. The cloud computing services provider handles maintenance in public and private cloud servers.

Q. Should I choose bare metal or cloud for high-performance computing?

The answer depends entirely on the physical hardware in use. Usually, bare metal servers outperform cloud servers due to no resource sharing. However, a cloud server can outperform a bare metal server with better specs.

Q. How is customization in bare metal compared to cloud servers?

Bare metal servers offer greater hardware customization, while cloud servers offer flexible virtual configurations but limited hardware choices.

Q. Which is faster to deploy: bare metal servers or cloud servers?

Cloud hosting servers are faster to deploy as they can be provisioned instantly, while bare metal servers require more time for setup and configuration.

Try this guide with our instant dedicated server for as low as 40 Euros