Businesses looking to maximize the performance of their websites and eCommerce platforms have a choice between several solutions. The type of system that works best for an organization depends on factors like the market sector in which the business operates, the volume of daily transactions, and the effects of seasonal fluctuations on capacity demands.

The three major options available from public cloud service providers (CSPs) for businesses searching for optimal performance and availability are a bare metal solution, dedicated cloud hosts, or dedicated physical servers. While these alternatives may seem very similar, they are not the same and each presents advantages and disadvantages in certain usage scenarios.

In this article, we will break down the differences in these three solutions to help identify which one best suits your unique business requirements. Let’s start with a discussion of each hosting option to identify their strengths and potential weaknesses.

Dedicated Servers

A dedicated server is a remotely located physical server that does not employ virtualization technology. The server’s performance and storage capabilities are limited by the hardware and its associated infrastructure. Dedicated servers are single-tenant entities where the machine is not shared with other customers.

Dedicated servers do not have a hypervisor pre-installed and enable users to exert full control over how the server and its infrastructure are configured. This level of control allows customers to install any operating system they choose without relying on the selected offerings of a virtualized environment. Hardware and software resources can be optimized to manage specific workloads and large volumes of data.

Advantages of dedicated servers

Using dedicated servers provides these benefits:

  • Enhanced processing power suitable for substantial workloads.
  • Full control over the operating system and application software.
  • Consistent disk and network performance.
  • Users have root access to the server.
  • Improved quality of service by eliminating resource spikes.
  • Traditional billing plans for planning and budgeting.
  • Physical isolation (which can be important for security and regulatory compliance).

Disadvantages of dedicated servers

Some things to look out for when considering dedicated servers are:

  • More expensive than virtualized cloud hosting options.
  • There could be delays in provisioning given supply chain constraints.
  • Additional technical expertise is required by the customer.
  • Providers may use lesser-quality or outdated hardware.

Bare Metal Servers

Bare metal servers are dedicated servers that are delivered to a customer using a different method by their cloud provider. These servers are also sometimes referred to as managed dedicated servers. In some ways, bare metal servers can be seen as a hybrid between dedicated servers and cloud hosts.

As with dedicated servers, a bare metal server is not shared with multiple tenants. Its role is to run dedicated services for a single customer. Cloud vendors carefully select the components that go into their bare metal offerings, which typically results in enhanced performance and reliability. In some cases, customers can choose to deploy specific components that fit the machine’s intended workload. Reputable providers will optimize the server to address specific use cases and business requirements.

Bare metal servers can be rented on an hourly or monthly subscription basis from a cloud provider, eliminating concerns over a long-term commitment to a dedicated server solution. In this way, they are like inexpensive cloud hosting options but deliver greater control, performance, and flexibility.

Advantages of bare metal servers

Benefits of using bare metal dedicated servers include:

  • Enhanced processing power for data and processing-intensive workloads.
  • Faster provisioning when compared to dedicated servers.
  • Flexible hardware choices range from inexpensive to cutting-edge components.
  • Managed by the cloud service provider.
  • Users have root access to the server.
  • Full control over operating system and application software.
  • Consistent disk and network performance.
  • Flexible billing options that can result in substantial savings over dedicated servers.
  • Improved quality of service by the elimination of resource spikes.
  • Physical isolation for enhanced security and regulatory compliance.

Disadvantages of bare metal servers

Bare metal servers have similar disadvantages to dedicated servers including:

  • More expensive than dedicated servers of virtualized cloud hosting options.
  • Additional technical expertise is required by the customer.

Dedicated Cloud Hosts

A dedicated cloud host is a single-tenant cloud infrastructure that serves as an isolated public cloud. Dedicated clouds fall into the category of infrastructure as a service (IaaS) solution and provide organizations with flexibility and performance as well as features not found in dedicated and bare metal options.

This hosting model provides customers with a dedicated cloud node connected to the Internet. The customer has more control than in a shared cloud hosting environment and can deploy the provisioned resources however they see fit. Through vendor-supplied automation and software tools, the dedicated cloud host can be turned into multiple cloud servers.

Though the cloud host is dedicated to a single tenant, the underlying physical hardware is still shared with other customers. This implies that there are limitations regarding the scalability of the system which are dependent on resource availability. The isolated nature of a dedicated cloud host may be sufficient for addressing concerns over security and privacy as it pertains to regulatory compliance.

Advantages of dedicated cloud hosts

The benefits of going with a dedicated cloud hosting solution include:

  • Less expensive than dedicated or bare metal servers.
  • Quickly provisioned by a cloud provider.
  • Security and development tools are provided by the cloud vendor.
  • Flexible licensing terms are usually available.
  • Can be used to create multiple cloud servers.
  • Computing resources can be customized to meet business requirements.

Disadvantages of dedicated cloud hosts

Customers considering dedicated cloud hosts should keep these points in mind:

  • Potential resource limitations.
  • Lesser performance than bare metal or dedicated servers.

Choosing the Right Hosting Option for Your Business

The three dedicated hosting options we discussed all provide benefits and some disadvantages. They can all successfully address the web hosting needs of a business or organization under certain conditions. Answering the following questions should provide an indication of which choice is appropriate for your company.

  • What are the business uses of the website? –  If your business does not need the higher performance of a dedicated or bare metal server, a dedicated cloud host can be an economical choice. On the other hand, if your business relies on the performance of mission-critical web applications, bare metal or dedicated servers should be strongly considered. The price difference will often be repaid with a more responsive and reliable website.
  • What are the vendor’s subscription options? – Most reputable cloud vendors offer various subscription plans tailored to the needs of their customers. If you need high performance for a limited time, a bare metal server might be a better choice than a dedicated server with a long-term contract.
  • What features are included? – The feature set available with different hosting options varies widely from vendor to vendor. Make sure the hosting option you select offers the features and flexibility your business requires.
  • Are there uptime and reliability guarantees? – Mission-critical websites need to be hosted by providers willing to enter into service level agreements (SLAs) that guarantee system performance and availability.

The answers to these questions should give you a good sense of which type of hosting option is best for your business. Don’t make a selection without considering if the alternatives can address your business objectives more effectively and efficiently.

Atlantic.Net can help!

If you are looking for a hosting solution but need assistance with choosing the right solution for your organization, please contact us today and we will be happy to design a customized solution for you.