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What Is a Bare Metal Dedicated Server? (And When Is It Right for You?)

  • Jun 07, 2021
  • 0
  • by A2 Support Team

When it comes to web hosting, your choice of plan can be just as important as your provider. While solutions such as shared hosting and Virtual Private Servers (VPS) can be cost-effective, sometimes you may require some serious horsepower. That’s where a Bare Metal Dedicated server comes in (synonymously called bare metal and dedicated servers).

If your project demands the highest level of performance, security, and compliance, then a bare metal dedicated server may be a good fit. By opting for bare metal, you’ll get guaranteed access to 100 percent of your server’s resources and will have complete control over its configuration.

In this post, we’ll dive deep into what a bare metal server is, and why you might need this powerful hosting option. To help you decide whether bare metal is right for you, we’ll then explore its advantages and disadvantages as well as some key factors to consider when deciding if you should choose this solution. Here are four quick reasons this server may be right for you:

  1. You can customize your server to meet your exact needs.
  2. It enables you to avoid the noisy neighbor effect.
  3. Dedicated servers provide improved security.
  4. You’ll have guaranteed access to 100 percent of your server’s resources.

What Is a Bare Metal Dedicated Server?

A bare metal dedicated server is a physical computer server that hosts a single customer only. With this solution, the physical resources are never shared between two or more tenants, meaning you get guaranteed access to 100 percent of your server’s resources.

Each dedicated server is a distinct physical piece of hardware that’s capable of functioning on its own. This is in contrast to virtual servers, which may run in multiple pieces of shared hardware.

It’s worth noting that all servers, whether virtualized or bare metal, are based on physical hardware. Even in a virtualized environment, there is physical hardware underneath – you just don’t have access to it.

An unmanaged bare metal server is ideal for experienced developers who are comfortable working with the command line. At A2 Hosting, all of our dedicated hosting plans come with administrative-level root access:

BMD Packages

We can also provide your choice of Linux Operating System (OS). This includes CentOS, Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu, Slackware, or Gentoo:

The Ubuntu operating system.

If at any point you want to use a different operating system, you can reload your Linux OS on demand. This gives you the flexibility to continue using the same server, even if your project’s requirements change so dramatically that you require an entirely different configuration.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Bare Metal Dedicated Servers?

Your choice of hosting plan can make or break your business. To help you get this crucial decision right, let’s look at the pros and cons of these servers.

The Pros of Bare Metal Dedicated Servers

Advantages of these servers include:

  • Compliance with privacy and security requirements. It’s easier to configure a dedicated server to meet certain regulations, making them particularly popular with organizations in the financial, healthcare, government, and retail industries.
  • Reliability. This is useful if you plan to process large volumes of traffic or data. The data-crunching capabilities of dedicated servers also make them a good fit for any projects relating to big data, mathematics, analytics, or visualization. This includes machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  • Access to large amounts of computing resources. This is essential for performing resource-intensive tasks such as streaming video or rendering animations.
  • Low latency. This makes bare metal dedicated servers ideal for render farms and media encoding operations.

However, no technology is perfect. Therefore, it’s wise to weigh the drawbacks of bare metal servers against these factors.

The Cons of Bare Metal Dedicated Servers

Here are some potential downsides to consider before opting for bare metal:

  • You’re tied to a specific piece of hardware. Any problems with your hardware could potentially result in performance-related issues. One solution is to opt for a managed bare metal server so your hosting provider is responsible for maintaining that all-important hardware.
  • Potential for a poor Return On Investment (ROI). Dedicated servers provide guaranteed access to 100 percent of the server’s resources. However, if you’re not using them to their fullest extent, they may not be worth the investment.
  • Managing a bare metal server in-house may require specialist skills and a significant amount of time and effort. If you’re concerned about this additional workload, then you can always opt for a managed plan.

Your server is the foundation for your website, application, or project. Therefore, it’s vital that it has all the resources you need to meet your business goals. If your server doesn’t provide enough firepower, then your site may start to lag. To ensure you get this crucial decision right, we recommend carefully weighing all of these pros and cons against your specific needs.

4 Signs a Bare Metal Dedicated Server May Be Right for You

Dedicated servers aren’t for everyone. However, there are some projects and businesses that need the unique features and horsepower this solution offers.

Let’s find out whether your business is one of them. Here are four signs that a bare metal dedicated server may be right for you.

1. You Want to Customize Your Server to Meet Your Exact Needs

As a single tenant, you’ll have more control over your physical server compared to a group of people who all coexist on the same server. This includes accessing the underlying hardware.

A dedicated environment gives you complete control over your bandwidth, memory usage, and many other important web hosting aspects. This level of control means you can optimize the server to suit your exact needs in terms of performance, security, and reliability.

For example, some projects may be more memory-intensive but require less disk space. Other websites may need less RAM, but more disk space. By opting for bare metal, you can optimize the server so that it provides the exact experience you need.

If you’re looking for a long-term hosting solution, then bare metal may be a good fit for your business. It’s usually safe to assume that your requirements will evolve over time. As your needs change, you can adapt your bare metal server for a wide range of different workloads.

At A2 Hosting, all of our bare metal servers are fully customizable, right down to choosing your level of RAM and disk space. We also understand that not all of your employees will be comfortable interacting with the command line.

For this reason, we give all our dedicated customers the option to add a user-friendly cPanel control panel to their accounts. This ensures that all your employees can manage the server files, database, email, and more, even if they have no previous experience with the command line.

2. You Need to Avoid the Noisy Neighbor Effect

Assuming that two servers are completely equal, a bare metal server will outpace its shared equivalent in terms of performance. This is largely due to the fact that as the sole tenant, you have access to 100 percent of your server’s resources.

In particular, dedicated servers protect you from the ‘noisy neighbor’ effect. This occurs when you’re sharing a server with a customer who consumes an unfair portion of the available resources. Your neighbor may take up so much storage or memory that it temporarily affects the other tenants on the server.

In this scenario, your website may slow down or even go offline. When you’re the only tenant on a server, you’re immune to the noisy neighbor effect.

The way a bare metal server is set up can also provide performance benefits. Since this type of solution is completely customizable, you can optimize your server’s resources to process your specific workload more efficiently.

In a virtual environment, servers require at least one additional layer of software, in the form of a hypervisor. Bare metal servers don’t require this, which means your OS is installed directly on your server. This typically delivers better performance.

The presence of a hypervisor on a shared server also prevents the customers on that server from taking advantage of any architectural perks of the physical hardware. By comparison, users on dedicated servers are in a unique position to make far better use of the physical hardware available to them.

This performance predictability is excellent news for any business that needs to process critical high-intensity workloads. This includes business intelligence and database applications.

You may also want to opt for a  dedicated server if you require lots of computing resources and low latency, such as if you’re hosting high-resolution graphics or working with large amounts of data. Render farms and media encoding operations are other examples of projects that commonly opt for bare metal servers due to their performance predictability.

3. Your Website Requires Improved Security

When you opt for a shared server, your data will be stored on the same hardware as other customers. As we described in the previous section, this kind of shared setup is inherently riskier than storing your data on a separate machine.

With a dedicated hosting solution, you can isolate your data, applications, and other resources. Bare metal servers will always provide a higher level of privacy and security than shared environments, including VPS plans.

Your data and resources may also be less susceptible to malware, viruses, and other digital threats. When it comes to shared environments, data streams infected by malicious code may affect multiple accounts across the server. A responsible hosting provider will quarantine data streams from the infection. However, you may still experience the effects of a redirected resource load.

Hackers may also find vulnerabilities in the isolation software regularly employed by shared servers. Since dedicated servers don’t use this type of software, you immediately eliminate a potential vulnerability by opting for a dedicated solution.

This increased security makes dedicated servers an ideal option if you need to comply with certain regulations or manage data that needs to be kept top secret. For example, people who need data isolation and improved security. For increased security, you can also configure your hardware to meet your unique requirements.

4. You Need Guaranteed Access to Server Resources

Resource usage on bare metal servers is highly predictable compared to shared environments. If you plan on crunching data or running applications that may experience usage spikes, then bare metal may be the right choice for you.

As we previously mentioned, in a shared environment there’s always a chance that you may wind up with bad neighbors who consume an unfair portion of the available resources. This can affect your project’s performance.

If you cannot access the resources you need, then your website or application may slow down, and could even experience downtime. When you share a server with other customers, you may also struggle to handle spikes in traffic. Attracting lots of visitors is the ultimate goal for many projects, but it can quickly turn sour if your server is unable to process all of this additional attention.

When using dedicated hosting, you don’t have to compete for resources. You’ll have guaranteed access to all of your server’s horsepower. If your project does experience a sudden influx of traffic, then you’ll be in a stronger position to capitalize on the opportunity it presents.

With all of your server’s resources at your disposal, visitors should be greeted by a lightning-fast website, rather than a sluggish User Experience (UX). This makes bare metal servers ideal for delivering business-critical websites, where even a temporary drop in performance can prove disastrous.

By choosing a dedicated server you’re already off to a good start. However, your choice of hosting provider is also important. At A2 Hosting, we offer all our customers a 99.9 percent Uptime Commitment, so you can be confident that your site or web application will remain online no matter how much attention it attracts.

How to Make Managing Your Bare Metal Dedicated Server Easy

There is a general belief that operating a bare metal server requires a large team of IT professionals. While this may be true for an on-premise setup, it’s not the case if you opt for a managed hosting package.

A reputable managed hosting provider will offer a full range of additional services, too. This can greatly simplify the process of running a dedicated server. As part of our managed packages, we take care of much of the day-to-day maintenance, security, and network performance tasks, while also providing around the clock support:

A2 Hosting's BMD server plans.

When you’re getting these services from a third party such as A2 Hosting, you don’t need to find the bandwidth to manage these tasks in-house or hire additional staff to carry this workload. This can help reduce your overhead costs. It also leaves you free to focus on your business goals.

For example, say you use a managed bare metal server to power your reseller hosting business. You can then concentrate on securing new customers while your hosting provider takes care of your server.

The data centers managed by an established hosting provider are typically far more streamlined than in-house setups. This means that our bare metal servers are more cost-effective to run than an equivalent on-site server. We pass these cost savings on to our customers.

Conclusion

Some projects require more resources than others, and shared or VPS hosting plans may not always be up to the task. If you’re performing some serious data processing, then you may benefit from a bare metal server.

If you’re still debating whether bare metal is right for you, let’s quickly recap the four reasons to opt for a dedicated server that we covered in this post:

  1. You can customize your server to meet your exact needs.
  2. It enables you to avoid the noisy neighbor effect.
  3. Bare metal servers provide improved security.
  4. You’ll have guaranteed access to 100 percent of your server’s resources.

A bare metal server represents a significant investment, so you’ll want to ensure you’re partnering with the right provider. At A2 Hosting, all of our servers come preconfigured for high performance and can deliver up to 20X faster page loading speeds than our competitors. Check out our plans today!

Featured Image credit: Pexels.