Fintech Security

Working and Importance of a Bare Metal Server

A bare metal server is defined as an advanced physical server designed to deliver a set of services dedicated to a single customer. This article explains the fundamentals of a bare metal server, how it works, and its importance in today’s digital world.

What Is a Bare Metal Server?

A bare metal server refers to an advanced physical server designed to deliver a set of services dedicated to a single customer. It operates in a single-tenant environment that is highly stable and reliable since the physical resources of the server are not shared between multiple tenants.

The physical separation between machines isolates them from other network components and frees them from the ‘noisy neighbor effect’ prevalent in virtual ecosystems. As a result, a bare metal server can process large quantities of data and run for extended periods, which can, in turn, elevate its overall performance.

Bare metal servers enable direct access to the underlying hardware architecture, unlike virtualized machines. Here’s an example. In a typical virtual machine (VM), the layers are stacked one over another to access the underlying physical hardware. This implies that a guest operating system such as Ubuntu, Windows Server, Red Hat, or CentOS sits over a hypervisor, which sits over the hardware. 

Thus, an end-user has access only to the guest OS and the management interface that provisions the VM. However, a user’s direct connection to the associated hardware is missing in such architectures.

On the contrary, bare metal servers allow users to access and interact with the physical hardware directly. As a result, users can avail multiple options while designing their own platform that can openly render a service or host an application. Bare metal servers do not need multiple software layers, as observed in virtualized systems where a minimum of one layer (type 1 hypervisor) is essential.

The server’s performance is enhanced with lesser software layers between the use and the physical hardware. However, it is worth noting that the tenants of bare metal are enabled to create VMs over the hardware, much like in a typical virtualized environment.

Let’s look at a simple analogy. One can equate a bare metal server to an independent house owned by a user, wherein the user is free to customize it depending on his preferences and choices. As a result, the user stays isolated and does not have to deal with nearby noisy neighbors.

On the contrary, a virtualized environment hosts multiple tenants. Here, multiple users tend to share compute, storage, and other resources hosted by the virtual server. You can equate this scenario to renting an apartment where a neighbor’s interference is inevitable and can disturb your personal life and space.

Organizations can benefit from bare metal servers as they can offer dedicated services in their own data centers or colocation centers. Another alternative that businesses can opt for is to rent dedicated servers to a managed service provider on a weekly, hourly, or monthly subscription basis.

See More: AWS CloudPractitioner: Certification, Exam, Jobs, and Salary in 2022

How Do Bare Metal Servers Work?

A bare metal server’s workflow optimizes the server infrastructure since it fulfills an organization’s unique data storage and computing needs. Managing the routine activities of such servers is slightly challenging for most organizations. However, external service providers can prove to be beneficial for companies. IT teams can zero in on critical business operations rather than engage in server maintenance tasks.

Let’s understand some vital day-to-day processes that maintain the smooth workflow of bare metal servers.

1. Allow regular OS & software updates

Servers tend to perform well when their operating system and other software components are regularly updated and patched. These minor updates and software patches are vital to securing data and protecting the servers from external attacks. You also need to monitor other server components, such as firewalls and switches and set thresholds to ensure that the server is safe from any outside intrusion.

2. Set up firewall and security rules

Traffic management is critical for any networking component, and bare metal servers are no exception. Each server instance is unique, requiring close attention and monitoring. You can define firewall and security rules for various instances and alter them as needed. The firewall restricts the ingress and egress traffic based on IP addresses, portals, IP rules, and several other factors.

Such rules are crucial to maintaining the seamless workflow of servers as suspicious traffic, and unwanted activities are kept under control.

3. Perform operational management

Bare metal servers allow all the internal members within an organization to directly access their resources and interact with them without any hindrance. Since each team member has a direct link to the underlying hardware, it is essential to limit the level of interaction. You can achieve this by segregating users based on their roles and responsibilities and giving them various permissions for server interaction. This way, the server is safe from any possible physical vulnerabilities.

Moreover, operational management also involves other duties such as managing data backup and recovery, data migration, fixing and replacing hardware components, and managing domain name services. All these functions allow the servers to work smoothly.

See More: What is a Data Lake? Definition, Architecture, Tools, and Applications

Importance of Bare Metal Servers

With growing digitization, bare metal servers are increasingly important for enjoying stable digital connections. They address problems encountered while maintaining a virtualized environment and provide a strong, robust, and secure networking base for organizations.

Bare metal servers are an integral part of the gaming industry, which handles high latency and CPU-intensive workloads. These servers also play a key role in the aviation, finance, and online media industry verticals (YouTube, Netflix, Disney), which generate large volumes of data every second. Major players in the bare metal server market players include IBM, Oracle, OVHcloud, CenturyLink, Zenlayer, and others.

Benefits of Bare Metal Servers

Benefits of Bare Metal Servers

1. High performance

Bare metal servers offer top-notch execution of tasks when compared to other servers. This high performance is a consequence of the dedicated nature of the server since all its resources work for a single client. This arrangement is suitable for various applications such as ecommerce stores, databases, VMs, mobile apps, and even hosting sites. A slow website indicates that you need to consider a bare metal server for faster operations.

2. Customizable server

Since users have complete control over the underlying hardware, they can customize server resources based on their needs. For example, the user can segregate resources into multiple VMs, customize them for specific tasks, or even dedicate them to execute a single application.

According to September 2022 data by Semrush, google.com, youtube.com, facebook.com, and amazon.com are the top four websites in the US that receive the highest traffic. These popular sites can be easily hosted on a basic bare metal server.

Additionally, more powerful and advanced servers employ several processors that can practically manage the workload of a large company. Also, server customization based on requirements further benefits the organization.

3. Enhanced security

Bare metal servers isolate data, resources, programs, and even applications. As a result, they provide better security and privacy than other hosting servers. These servers reduce the attack surface, and cybercriminals cannot steal personal or sensitive data as they find it difficult to access the system.

The isolated environment allows companies to further tweak the firewall settings as per their needs to widen their security base.

4. Scaling options

Bare metal servers provide scaling options where you can scale vertically or horizontally. Scaling vertically implies upgrading to an even more powerful server when the current server cannot handle the workload. You can do this by migrating the server to another server with more RAM capacity.

Scaling horizontally entails installing additional servers to distribute the original server’s workload further. In scenarios where the networking system is hosted on a single server, and you expect a more significant workload in the future, you can directly move the database to other servers.

5. Reliable services

Bare metal servers offer reliable services as the architecture is dedicated to a single tenant. As a result, workload spikes shared by noisy neighbors are negated. This reduces the chances of potential downtime and, in turn, raises server performance.

6. Good support management

The customizability of bare metal servers increases the overall cost compared to that of shared or VPS hosting. These servers also employ specialized administering teams to troubleshoot problems arising from custom yet specific configurations.

It is worth noting that server management requires a fundamental understanding of its operating systems, security features, and services rendered. However, managing bare metal servers is considerably more accessible as the server can be controlled through phone support. Also, routine OS updation further applies updates to its security features.

7. Windows support

Several applications in our everyday lives use Windows. Bare metal servers are supported by Windows Server versions, thereby making their management easier for anyone who is well-versed with the Windows OS. 

Buying or leasing a server? – A business perspective:

Organizations can buy or rent a server depending on their business needs. Although buying a server is an expensive affair, it gives you the freedom to control and access the server hardware without anyone’s interruption. Moreover, you also need to take care of the upfront and additional expenses incurred in maintaining the server.

Due to its convenience and affordability, leasing seems to be the preferred go-to option for companies. In such a case, you need not take the onus of maintaining the server. With the renting option, you can avail of immediate assistance if you encounter technical hurdles or if some part of the server fails to perform its desired functions. You may also need to keep track of the changes made by the service provider and notify them as and when necessary.

However, buying or renting a bare metal server boils down to an organization’s objectives, requirements, and future vision.

See More: What Is Knative? Overview, Working, Features, and Importance

Takeaway

Bare metal servers play a pivotal role in the IT sector. Moreover, several other industries that maintain high regulatory compliance, privacy, and security standards, such as healthcare, fintech, adtech, and retail, utilize this single-tenant architecture for their benefit.

Bare metal servers hosted by infrastructure as a service (IaaS) providers open a doorway to cluster resources that are scalable and accessible across the world. They also help hybridize IT infrastructure by combining bare metal and a virtual environment.

Organizations that require secure, flexible, affordable, and customizable IT systems can choose bare metal solutions to meet their long-term data storage and transfer needs.

Did this article help you understand the importance of bare metal servers and their significance for organizations? Comment below or let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. We’d love to hear from you!

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