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Bare metal infrastructure vs. hypervisor-based infrastructure

Choosing a host infrastructure

The Infrastructure hosting market can feel overwhelming with the variety of technologies and platforms available. Generally speaking, however, infrastructure hosts fall into two categories: bare metal infrastructure and hypervisor-based infrastructure. To help determine which infrastructure host works best for your company, the following explores what exactly bare metal and hypervisors are along with their associated advantages and disadvantages.

Bare metal

A bare metal server is a physical server dedicated to a single individual or company. Whoever the bare metal server belongs to has exclusive access to it. With a bare metal server, an operating system can be installed directly onto a server. They are typically used for workloads that are latency sensitive and demand a significant amount of processing power. Bare metal servers are particularly well fit to take on demanding web projects that consume a steady amount of resources.

Cost control is one of the chief benefits of bare metal servers. Billing for bare metal servers is generally available on a monthly basis, which prevents the risk of unexpected charges. Bare metal billing is available on an hourly basis too. Although the hourly rates for bare metal servers tend to be higher than monthly rates, they still help reduce costs since customers use them only as needed. Moreover, a bare metal server provides users with a better sense of control over their software on account being the only tenant on the server.

A drawback of bare metal servers is they can be limited in comparison to virtualized instances. Since a bare-metal server is the same as a physical server, it has a restricted amount of instance sizes and types available. Additionally, duplicating machine images for backup and testing can be challenging with bare metal servers. Moreover, they require physical network resources, which are not as agile as virtual network resources.

Hypervisors

A hypervisor, otherwise known as a virtual machine (VM) manager, is a software program that allows users to host multiple VMs on a single piece of computer hardware. It sits between the hardware and VMs, and allocates resources like memory, bandwidth and disk storage to the VMs. The main purpose of the hypervisor is to meet the needs of VMs running on the host machine and ensure those VMs do not interrupt each other.

Hypervisors are beneficial on account of their ability to optimize the underlying hardware. It enables VMs to run independently by dividing physical resources into isolated entities. Furthermore, by virtualizing the server, a hypervisor makes the VMs running on top of it extremely mobile to the extent that the underlying hardware becomes irrelevant. And since hypervisors allow multiple independent instances to exist simultaneously on a physical server, they can help reduce maintenance costs, power consumption and cooling demands for businesses.

Most of the drawbacks attached to hypervisors relate to security. Since hypervisors control everything, they immediately give hackers a bullseye to seize upon. For example, if a hypervisor is used to close off bad software code running in a VM from the rest of the system, a hacker has the potential to take advantage of that vulnerability, break down the barrier and access all of the hardware’s resources. Consequently, companies need to be aware of and on the lookout for these sorts of threats when using hypervisors.
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ABOUT AUTHOR

Nathan Cranford
Nathan Cranford joined RCR Wireless News as a Technology Writer in 2017. Prior to his current position, he served as a content producer for GateHouse Media, and as a freelance science and tech reporter. His work has been published by a myriad of news outlets, including COEUS Magazine, dailyRx News, The Oklahoma Daily, Texas Writers Journal and VETTA Magazine. Nathan earned a bachelor’s from the University of Oklahoma in 2013. He lives in Austin, Texas.

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