We use computing environments to host websites and applications and provide technology services. Server environments run operating systems that are either installed on bare-metal physical dedicated servers or on virtualized servers. Virtual servers are also called Cloud Servers if they reside on a cloud computing infrastructure, where the computational tasks and data storage are separated into different interconnected subsystems.
Bare-metal dedicated servers and cloud servers, – either Private or Private Cloud Hosting environments – are two popular options for hosting applications, websites, and other services. Here are some of the main differences between the two:
Hardware-based vs Virtualization-based Servers
Bare-metal refers are 100 percent “hardware-based”. An operating system is installed directly on the physical server without virtualization technology. In the case that there is a virtualization technology installed on a physical server for the purpose of dividing it into different virtual servers, it is considered a Bare-metal Server if it is used as a single-tenant infrastructure environment.
Bare-Metal Dedicated Servers can be scaled in RAM and storage to a certain degree, but they need to be shut down in order for a resource upgrade.
Cloud Servers are virtualized environments that reside on top of a clustered networking model of connected physical servers, that work as a group. The Cloud Servers use either network-attached storage or hyper-converged storage. In both scenarios, the cloud servers’ data is stored in storage appliances, physically divided from the appliances that provide the processing resources – CPU and RAM.
Cloud servers can be scaled up or down on demand with or without being powered off, depending on the cloud computing technology in use.
Internet Connection & Bandwidth
Bare-metal servers are definitely a better choice for projects or applications that require a lot of data transfer and a high bandwidth rate. Cloud Servers are not a good option for any applications or websites that need high bandwidth. The reason is that most cloud providers, especially the major hyper scalers like Google Cloud, AWS, and Azure, charge their clients per each gigabyte of data transfer. They apply perplexed billing models to the networking services, which results in increased costs for their clients. On the contrary, the providers of bare-metal servers often provision servers with network service measured by the bandwidth rate, not by the used gigabyte or terabytes of data transfer.
So, it is possible to use an Unmetered Dedicated Server with a network allowance equivalent to the physical limit of the network interface – for example a 1Gbps or 10Gbps Dedicated Server. This means that the user of an Unmetered Bare-Metal Dedicated Server does not need to worry about the monthly bill. It stays flat, regardless of the amount of data transfer used by the server applications.
It is exactly the opposite with the Cloud Servers. They usually feature metered data transfer, delivered on a specific network bandwidth port – for example, 2 terabytes (TB) per month on a 1 – gigabit internet connection port. Cloud providers usually charge per TB data transfer above the service quota. Just imagine that your cloud server which costs $50 per month and has a 5 TB monthly data transfer quota, has used 30 TB data transfer in any given month. With an average price of additional data transfer that varies between $5 and $20 per TB, a Cloud-based server user may end up paying between $125 and $500 alone for overage data transfer.
This is a scenario that happens every month to millions of users that have Cloud infrastructure with any of the bid cloud providers. There are various ways to reduce the monthly bills for overage data transfer, but not to avoid them. The only way to avoid paying for overage data transfer is to use an Unmetered Bare-Metal Server.
Total Cost of Ownership
Bare-metal Dedicated Servers are usually more expensive than cloud servers in case the user needs a relatively low amount of computing resources – for example, less than 4 virtual processing units (Threads in the physical CPU), 16 GB of memory, and 1 TB of data storage.
Cloud Servers are more expensive in case they require a lot of computing resources – for example, more than 8 virtual processing units (Threads in the physical CPU), 32 GB of memory, and 2 TB of data storage. The reason is that in order to create a virtual, cloud-based server, providers need to use a certain amount of physical computing resources. Without a proportionate saving in costs that applies to larger cloud infrastructures, the resource-rich Cloud Servers are generally more expensive than the Bare-Metal Dedicated Servers. So, if any project has a low resource utilization, it is better to start with ha Cloud-based server, not with a physical one.
Management of Physical Infrastructure VS Management of a Virtual Environment
Users of Bare-Metal Dedicated Servers, have to consider the overall hardware state of the server and deal with the maintenance of the main OS and network configurations.
Users of Cloud Servers do not deal only with the software environment of the virtual, cloud- based environment. They do not have responsibilities to monitor and support the physical infrastructure that powers the cloud environment.
There are benefits of using a cloud-based server related to the overall availability of the applications that run on it. It is relatively inexpensive and easier to have a High Availability scenario on a Cloud server. The Cloud infrastructure platforms offer tools that monitor the cloud environments and in case of operating system failure or unavailability of the underlying physical server, restart the Cloud Server and minimize the applications’ downtime. It is also less expensive to apply a failover scenario to a Cloud-based server than to a physical one. The reason is that most failover scenarios require a redundant environment with identical configurations and computing resources.
Those are the main differences between Cloud-based and physical dedicated servers. Choose carefully, read the provider’s terms of service, and always consider their business history.