A bare metal cloud is a cloud computing service that gives users access to dedicated, physical servers that are managed and maintained by a third-party managed service provider (MSP).
What Does Bare Metal Mean?
Bare metal refers to a computer that comes with no installed operating system (OS) or applications and that only includes essential hardware components such as motherboards, CPUs, hard disks, and network cards.
On a bare metal computer, the OS is installed directly to the physical hard drive and applications run natively. Bare metal solutions are single-tenant and non-virtualized, allowing you to isolate resources and access the full processing power of the physical hardware for maximum performance.
What Is a Bare Metal Cloud?
Bare metal cloud is a service where vendors rent dedicated physical hardware resources to customers via the public cloud. Customers have full control over one or more physical servers in the cloud hosting environment. Unlike traditional cloud services, which use virtualized, multi-tenant servers, bare metal cloud solutions are single-tenant (i.e., hardware resources are not shared with other tenants).
With a bare metal cloud service, you get the control and predictability of dedicated physical hardware with the scalability and performance of a cloud computing platform. Because there are no overheads associated with running a hypervisor, a bare metal solution can provide higher performance and lower latency than a virtual machine.
For these reasons, bare metal cloud solutions are ideal for high-performance workloads, such as big data processing, AI and ML training, and mission-critical applications.
How a Bare Metal Cloud Works
A bare metal cloud solution allows you to rent bare-bones, dedicated servers from a managed bare metal service provider. Much like a traditional dedicated server, you have direct access to the system hardware and operating system. Applications are installed and run directly on the physical hardware.
While there are no virtual machines or hypervisors installed, as in a traditional cloud computing environment, some form of virtualization software is used to manage, orchestrate, and provision the physical servers.
With a bare metal cloud, the provider manages the data center with the physical hardware, including servers, networking components, storage, and other essential services, such as on-premises security. Your responsibilities as the customer include the management, configuration, and licensing of the operating systems, applications, and databases on the bare metal instance.
Bare Metal Cloud vs. Dedicated Server: Comparison
Bare metal cloud and dedicated servers both provide dedicated hardware resources using a single-tenant model.
With dedicated servers, the customer manages and maintains the server, including software installations and updates, security configuration, and backups. Bare metal cloud solutions, on the other hand, deliver services through the cloud. The cloud provider manages and maintains the hardware and configures the software and applications that run on the hardware. Customers have exclusive access to the hardware resources which they can access on-premises or via API, CLI, and infrastructure-as-code (IaC) tools.
Bare Metal Cloud vs. IaaS: Comparison
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is a cloud service model that makes resources such as compute, storage, and networking available to customers on demand over the internet via a third-party IaaS provider. Customers have no knowledge or control of the underlying physical infrastructure on which services are built.
Bare metal cloud is a subset of the IaaS cloud computing model that provides access to dedicated servers with no OS or hypervisors installed. With bare metal clouds, you have full control from the underlying physical infrastructure to client applications, enabling you to optimize resource utilization and performance at the hardware level.
Types of Bare Metal Cloud Services
There are several types of bare metal cloud services available, including:
Bare metal servers: These are physical servers with no virtualization, a single operating system, and natively installed applications that are rented to customers on a pay-per-use basis. Customers have physical access and full control of the hardware and can install and configure their own operating systems and applications.
Bare metal instances: These are pre-configured physical bare metal servers that are available on demand in the cloud. Like bare metal servers, bare metal instances are not virtualized and use a single operating system. However, instances are hosted in the cloud, and resources are accessed, configured, and managed through the cloud provider's API or web-based console.
Bare metal as a service (BMaaS): This is a managed service through which the cloud provider is fully responsible for all hardware maintenance and support. Customers have access to bare metal server solutions on a pay-as-you-go basis, avoiding the upfront costs and ongoing maintenance associated with purchasing and managing their own physical servers.
- Hybrid bare metal: This offering combines bare metal servers with other cloud services in a hybrid cloud solution. Hybrid bare metal solutions pair the flexibility of virtual machines (VMs) with the high performance and control of physical bare metal servers to create dedicated physical server solutions that are easily configured and managed using a virtualization layer.
Benefits of a Bare Metal Cloud
Bare metal cloud solutions offer several benefits to organizations. Here are some of them:
With bare metal cloud services, there are no physical assets to maintain or replace. And, with a pay-per-use payment model, you can buy what you need, when you need it, and avoid overbuying infrastructure, hardware, and storage capacity.
In a public cloud environment, virtual machines share the resources among multiple users and applications, which may lead to performance issues. With bare metal clouds, dedicated resources eliminate resource contention, and customers have full control and unrestricted hardware-level access to the machine’s physical components for maximum workload optimization.
A dedicated bare metal server also ensures greater security, which is especially important for organizations where compliance and security are paramount. Because resources are isolated and customers have full control of the system, bare metal clouds eliminate the risk that the sensitive data may be exposed to other tenants.
Because they’re built on the cloud model, bare metal services are highly scalable. Through the provider’s management interface, you can provision or decommission server resources quickly and easily to meet any new business demand.
Disadvantages of a Bare Metal Cloud
Although bare metal clouds come with many advantages, there are some drawbacks.
The Potential for Added Costs
While a pay-as-you-go model helps you to better allocate your financial resources, bare metal solutions are typically more expensive than other types of cloud solutions. If you don’t have specific hardware requirements or high-performance requirements, it may be advisable to consider an alternative solution.
Bare metal cloud environments typically come with predefined CPU, RAM, and storage configurations. This can limit your organization’s ability to customize the hardware and operating system to meet unique business requirements.
Increased Management Overhead
If you’re moving from a public cloud service to a bare metal cloud solution, management overhead will increase, as you’re now responsible for configuring hardware and installing and managing the OS, hypervisor, containers, and all other software.
When to Use a Bare Metal Cloud
Bare metal clouds can be an excellent solution, but they might not be right for every use case. Here are four usage scenarios for bare metal cloud solutions:
Game servers: A bare metal cloud solution provides dedicated hardware resources that eliminate the latency and scalability issues that frustrate gamers, ensuring maximum performance and an optimized gamer experience.
Application development: Bare metal cloud solutions allow DevOps teams to build, test, and deploy applications faster and easier. Access to the server root enables the use of cloud-native architecture and a wide range of containerization and orchestration software to treat infrastructure as code.
AI and machine learning: With bare metal clouds, AI, ML, and NLP algorithms can take advantage of root-level access to fine-tune server resources for optimal performance when training machine learning models.
- Big data: Bare metal cloud solutions are ideal for big data processing because there is no unnecessary virtualization overhead. The system can dedicate all resources to running analytics applications and extracting valuable insights.
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