Not all servers are created equal, and nothing illustrates this point better than the difference between bare metal servers and virtual servers. If you want to pay for computing power, these two represent different ends of the spectrum. We’ll start with definitions, then we’ll tease out the differences.

What’s a Bare Metal Server?

A bare metal server is a physical server. It is exclusive to a single tenant or customer, so the tenant can customize it to their needs by organizing the server’s workload. Bare metal servers are also called dedicated servers or single tenant servers.

Prior to the cloudification of computing, bare metal servers were typically run from a business’s own data center, but it is now common to run bare metal servers from colocation centers or even rent them on a subscription basis from a managed service provider. Those subscriptions can be monthly or hourly.

What’s a Virtual Server?

A virtual server is not a physical object. Rather, it is created by software designed to mimic the function of a dedicated server. Multiple virtual servers can be hosted on a single machine, sharing hardware resources.

Each virtual server has separate software, a separate operating system, and separate reboot provisioning. Security systems and passwords also behave as though they’re on a dedicated server

Of course, the workload of one virtual server may impact another on the same machine.

What Are the Benefits of a Bare Metal Server?

Bare metal servers offer good performance. You can optimize the workload. And you install the operating system directly on the server and run applications natively.

Reliability is another benefit of a bare metal server. A multi-tenant server can suffer from the “noisy neighbour effect”; that is, the increased workload of one tenant might affect another tenant. Because bare metal servers are single tenant servers, they avoid this problem.

Finally, bare metal servers have another layer of security because they are physically separate entities. Your data, applications, and other digital assets are isolated.

What Are the Benefits of a Virtual Server?

Using a virtual server is cost effective in that it reduces the need for additional infrastructure, meaning you won’t have to pay for hardware.

Virtual servers also have the edge in the flexibility department. If your computing needs are unknown, vary wildly, or are still being determined, a virtual server can provide as much or as little workload as you need.

The Takeaway

There are strong arguments to be made for both bare metal servers and virtual servers. If you want optimized performance, superior reliability, and additional security, a bare metal server is the way to go. However, if cost-effectiveness and greater flexibility are more important, consider a virtual server.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

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