Bare metal servers vs. virtual servers

What is the difference between a bare metal server and a virtual server?

How do you choose which one to use?

What about bare metal cloud?




In this post, we will discuss the characteristics of bare metal servers and virtual servers, and how bare metal cloud combines some of the benefits of both.


Bare Metal Server

A bare metal server is a “single tenant” physical server, meaning that the server is dedicated to one customer and not shared between multiple customers.  This prevents the “noisy neighbor” problem, where server performance is impacted by other customers’ workloads.

Bare metal servers are typically used for workloads that are latency sensitive and require a large amount of raw processing power, such as rendering, gaming, large relational databases, etc.


Virtual Server

A virtual server is hosted in a “multi-tenant” environment, where multiple virtual servers share the same physical hardware.  Virtual servers are easily scalable, but lack the performance and security of bare metal servers.

Virtual servers are commonly used for e-commerce, test and development for server applications, workload migrations, etc.


Simple Comparison of Bare Metal Server vs. Virtual Server


As can be seen from the chart above, choosing between a bare metal server and virtual server depends on your needs and budget.


Bare Metal Cloud

Bare metal cloud delivers bare metal servers in a cloud setting, with on-demand access, high scalability and pay-as-you-go features.

According to a Forrester report in April 2015, bare metal cloud has several key advantages:

  • Bare metal clouds deliver dedicated hardware with cloud features
    Bare metal clouds offer a way to deploy workloads that demand dedicated hardware for performance and isolation reasons with all the operational advantages of virtual infrastructure-as-a-service cloud services.
  • Bare metal clouds are strong candidates for latency-sensitive workloads
    Because they eliminate the latency associated with virtual machines and their virtualized network and I/O, one of the strongest use cases for bare-metal cloud is workloads that require the lowest latency.
  • Bare metal cloud economics can be compelling with high load factors
    Despite the continued free fall in virtual cloud pricing, bare metal clouds can be cheaper on a per-workload basis for environments where the virtual machines are large and heavily loaded on a continual basis.


See Zenlayer’s bare metal cloud offerings


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