You might have already heard about “the cloud”. The term cloud refers to servers that are accessed over the Internet as well as the software and databases that run on those servers. Files and applications stored in the cloud can be accessed from almost any device because the computing and the storage take place on servers in a data center, instead of locally on the user device. Cloud brings a lot of advantages for enterprises, such as application scalability, operational flexibility, cost reduction, and resources efficiency.
Generally speaking, there are two types of cloud. The first one is the traditional cloud that offers virtual machines (VMs) that abstract disk, memory, and CPU usage. The second one is called bare-metal cloud which are essentially physical servers that can be deployed on-demand and billed per hour . Unlike the traditional cloud, bare-metal cloud do not come with a hypervisor pre-installed and it gives the user complete control over their server infrastructure.
Bare-metal cloud is becoming more and more popular. For you to have an idea, the bare-metal cloud market size is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 24.1% during the forecast period to reach USD 16.4 billion by 2026 . One explanation for the increasing demand for bare-metal cloud is the COVID-19 pandemic that led to an urgency-driven digital business transformation. Now, global giants are providing customers with cost-effective and productive digital solutions, and with that the increasing demand for cloud solutions and other online services. Large cloud providers, such as IBM, Google Cloud, and Amazon AWS already support bare-metal cloud.
Which problems does bare-metal cloud solve?
“Bare-metal cloud servers do not run a hypervisor, are not virtualized
— but can still be delivered via a cloud-like service model.”
— Gopala Tumuluri, Computer Weekly
Bare-metal cloud solves many problems . First, enterprises get more control over the physical infrastructure with bare-metal if compared to VMs or other environments. Second, workloads in bare-metal tend to run faster than on top of a hypervisor. Third, there are types of workloads that can only run on bare-metal servers, such as direct accessing a video rendering hardware. Finally, bare-metal cloud is very secure because services are not hosted on the same shared physical server.
What are the benefits of bare-metal cloud?
Among the many benefits of bare-metal cloud, we can highlight:
- It is possible to predict the performance of dedicated resources.
- Dedicated resources provide control of the system and network security.
- Enterprises have the flexibility to customize the bare-metal cloud to meet their operating system and software stack requirements.
- The dedicated servers of a bare-metal cloud avoid resource contention (compare to VMs that share physical servers)
- Bare-metal servers are highly scalable, which is good for big data applications and high-transaction workloads that need low latency.
- Store and hardware resources are provisioned according to the application needs and they are billed on a specific time period. This is great when hardware requirements are unclear and likely to change.
What are the drawbacks of bare-metal cloud?
We highlight below some of the drawbacks of bare-metal cloud:
- Enterprises must configure the hardware and install/manage the operating system, hypervisor, and software.
- Some services require monthly leases resulting in paying for underutilized resources. Furthermore, bare-metal might be more expensive for sustained and predictable workloads.
- Bare-metal might not be the best option for legacy software, since it often has strict hardware compatibility requirements that might not be available in bare-metal configurations from servers providers.
When to use bare-metal cloud?
Given the aforementioned advantages and bare-metal cloud, you might be wondering about the use cases of bare-metal. Bare-metal might be better for some use cases as listed below :
- Applications in which overhead should be avoided and hardware components should be tuned for maximum performance.
- Applications where speedy access to user profiles and assets data is required, such as AdTech and FinTech
- Applications in which specific hardware and storage is needed to support the real-time nature of the workloads, such as in real-time analytics and recommendation engine.
- Applications that need high performance for raw computing or 3D rendering, such as gaming applications.
- Applications with high outbound bandwidth usage, such as applications based on real-time communications.
- Applications in which a dedicated compute environment is needed, normally due to business requirements or for compliance.
Unlike the traditional cloud, the bare-metal cloud is composed of physical servers that can be deployed on-demand and billed per hour. Those servers do not come with a hypervisor pre-installed and this gives the user complete control over their server infrastructure. Like with any technology, the bare-metal cloud has its advantages and drawbacks that are discussed in this article with the applications that can better take advantage of bare-metal computing.
About the author:
Isabella Ferreira is an Ambassador at TARS Foundation, a cloud-native open-source microservice foundation under the Linux Foundation.