Bare Metal Cloud vs. IaaS

Which Option Is Best for Your Business?

Written by Kelsey Kinzer on July 8, 2022

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Cloud-based services are essential IT infrastructure components for most organizations due to their benefits, such as flexibility, scalability, and a pay-as-you-go pricing model. But not all cloud environments are the same. 

For example, application components such as real-time analytics engines, machine learning clusters, and web-based content serving networks require different features and may require different cloud providers.    

If your organization is rapidly growing, you need an optimal and convenient cloud-based service to handle critical workloads at full processing capacities. In this case, there are two popular options: 

  1. Bare metal cloud or bare metal as a service (BMaaS)
  2. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

So, which one is the better solution? Learn more about bare metal cloud vs. IaaS in this post and get a complete overview of the pros and cons of these two cloud-based services.

Types of Servers

Before diving right into the differences between bare metal cloud and IaaS, it is essential to understand the various server hosting options you can leverage for your organization. There are three basic categories of server environments: 

1. Dedicated server

A dedicated server is a physical storage device you can use to store hypervisor layers, virtual servers, and operating systems (OSs). It’s tangible and serves as an on-prem hardware component that houses all the necessary software constructs that run clients. 

2. Virtual server

A virtual server—also called a virtual private server (VPS) or virtual dedicated server (VDS)—is simply a virtual machine (VM) that cloud service providers (CSPs) usually sell as a service. You can split a physical server into multiple virtual servers through server virtualization to achieve more cost-effective and efficient resource control.

3. Bare metal server

A bare metal server is a physical server dedicated to a single tenant. Unlike a virtual server where the tenant shares resources with other users, a bare metal server allows users to exclusively use the entire hardware setup. For example, you can optimize the server based on the organization’s requirements to achieve better performance, reliability, and security. 

Bare metal servers and dedicated servers are similar in the sense that they are single-tenant devices that allow users to leverage the entire hardware. However, while bare metal servers enable users to get top-of-the-line hardware products, including the newest generation CPUs, RAM, and Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) solid-state drives (SSDs), dedicated servers don’t. 

Similarities and Differences Between Bare Metal Cloud and IaaS

There are three primary cloud-based service offerings: IaaS, platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and software-as-a-service (SaaS). Bare metal cloud is a subset of IaaS offerings where a tenant rents dedicated computing resources from the CSP on a pay-as-you-go pricing scheme. Bare metal cloud providers usually offer computing resources without any installed OSs or virtualization environments.

Both bare metal cloud and IaaS utilize virtualized resources to allow users access to computing services. They both provide IT teams with flexibility and scalability through an agile framework that allows the organization to scale up or down as the needs arise. 

However, bare metal cloud and IaaS provide different service offerings despite these similarities. You can think of IaaS as a cloud-based service that allows users to access virtualized resources. In contrast, the bare metal cloud enables users to access dedicated servers and virtualized resources. 

Also, while the CSP provider manages the entire IT infrastructure in IaaS, the bare metal cloud provides you with a dedicated server where IT teams have exclusive control to configure as they wish.  

Pros and Cons of Bare Metal Cloud

Bare metal cloud has both benefits and drawbacks you should evaluate before deploying one. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of bare metal clouds.

Pros

  • Scalability. Most bare metal cloud offerings are scalable, providing hundreds of processor cycles and terabytes of memory. This makes them perfect options for high transaction workloads and big data applications. 
  • Security. Dedicated computing resources allow tenants to control their systems and network security. 
  • Predictability. Businesses can achieve performance predictability with dedicated computing resources. 
  • Flexibility. Organizations can customize bare metal cloud offerings to meet their software stack requirements and troubleshoot applications without worrying about neighboring VMs. 

Cons

  • Added IT management overheads. IT teams have to configure all the hardware in a bare metal cloud environment. They must also install and manage the hypervisor, OS, containerization stack, and applications. 
  • Extra direct costs. Some bare metal services may require tenants to pay monthly rents for underutilized resources. This may be costly for an organization in the long run.  
  • Legacy software problems. Legacy applications usually have strict compatibility requirements that may not be available with top-of-the-line hardware resources such as NVMe SSDs. 

Pros and Cons of IaaS

Like the bare metal cloud, switching to IaaS comes with many benefits as well as drawbacks. Let’s dive right in and explore some pros and cons of IaaS. 

Pros

  • Cost savings. The organization can significantly lower its infrastructure costs because you won’t have to procure, purchase, maintain, or even worry about uptime for any network equipment. 
  • On-demand scalability. If the organization operates in a sector with seasonal fluctuations, IaaS makes it easier to spin up or shut down VMs and the number of applications faster. 
  • Operational flexibility. IaaS makes it easier for employees to access corporate resources, whether in an on-prem setup or on the go and at any time. 

Cons

  • Security. Giving up control of an organization’s IT infrastructure can allow outside actors to compromise its sensitive data. Even if the hack or vulnerability doesn’t directly impact your enterprise resources, any compromised system can also affect your operations. 
  • Potential noisy neighbors. IaaS is a multi-tenant system, which means that a single architecture hosts multiple subscribers’ applications and data. An application or VM that uses a disproportionate amount of computing resources can cause network performance problems on shared infrastructure.   

Choosing the Best Option for Your Business

Cloud-based services—whether bare metal cloud or IaaS—are becoming increasingly popular across all sectors, and their range of use cases is expanding. Initially, most companies primarily used these solutions to run experimental or temporary workloads.

Today, virtually all organizations are leveraging cloud solutions to support mission-critical workloads. 

The decision between bare metal cloud or IaaS largely relies on the significant degrees to which you want to handle power, extra security, and utilization situations.

However, regardless of whether you go for bare metal cloud or IaaS, one thing remains unresolved: identity and access management (IAM) in a diversified workplace with heterogeneous endpoints. 

IAM is essential for security purposes because attackers are becoming more sophisticated than ever before. Knowing who has access to which servers and other IT resources, and which devices they are using to authenticate to those resources is the first line of defense against these intrusions. 

The JumpCloud Open Directory Platform is a robust, all-in-one open directory platform. It provides an efficient approach to IAM by converging directory services, device management, single sign-on (SSO), and multi-factor authentication (MFA) plus other security approaches into an optimized, vendor-agnostic solution. 

Whether you rely on a bare metal cloud or IaaS set-up in your cloud computing environment, learn more about how JumpCloud can help with server access management.

Kelsey Kinzer

Kelsey is a passionate storyteller and Content Writer at JumpCloud. She is particularly inspired by the people who drive innovation in B2B tech. When away from her screen, you can find her climbing mountains and (unsuccessfully) trying to quit cold brew coffee.

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