Leveraging bare metal clouds v1.0

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Introduction
  3. The tradeoffs
  4. The players
  5. Key takeaways
  6. About David S. Linthicum
  7. About David Linthicum


The emerging bare metal cloud market provides a way to complement or substitute virtualized cloud services with a dedicated server environment. In other words, it’s a cloud service that maps to a dedicated physical server, and businesses are the exclusive owner of that service for the duration that it’s needed. It’s as if the dedicated physical server is an owned server. A business can access and leverage most native features of that platform, including accessing memory and storage subsystems directly without having to go through a cloud API.

Using bare metal cloud eliminates the overhead of virtualization and allows businesses direct access to most of the underlying platform services. Bare metal cloud servers do not run a hypervisor but are delivered using the same on-demand model that most public clouds provide. Providers include Internap, Liquid Web, Digital Ocean, OVH, and now IBM SoftLayer, Mirantis, and Rackspace.

While this may seem like a move away from the cloud by the marketplace, there are some workloads that will run better and at a cheaper cost on bare metal clouds. This report will help IT executives and enterprise architects evaluate bare metal as an option for specific workloads, such as those that are durable over a long period of time, have stable workload characteristics (no need to scale up or down), are sensitive to performance latencies, and are I/O intensive. Workloads such as big data systems, backup and recovery services, and applications that often go to and from storage are the best candidates for bare metal clouds.

Key findings from this report include:

  • Bare metal clouds are a requirement for some specific types of workloads and in some cases are actually cheaper to run than traditional public-cloud infrastructures.
  • Bare metal clouds can provide better performance than their public-cloud counterparts since there is no hypervisor or multitenant overhead. However, performance varies greatly depending upon a business’s workload.
  • The single-tenant nature of bare metal clouds make them attractive to companies with security and compliance concerns.
  • Bare metal cloud services are starting to be offered by providers that don’t reside in the top positions of the public-cloud market, including Rackspace and IBM. These are good niches for these providers, who should grow in the market nicely over time.
  • Bare metal cloud should be a consideration for most enterprises moving to cloud. IT executives should review profiles of workloads to understand where they fit and where they don’t. Enterprises that don’t consider this technology could be missing an opportunity to optimize application performance and cost efficiency.
  • This technology is likely to mature a great deal over the next few years as enterprises figure out its value and providers continue to invest in building it. Count on some of the larger cloud players to provide offerings as well.

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