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Jul 19, 2016 | Reading time: 2 Minutes

Bare Metal Servers vs. Virtual Servers: Which is Right for You?

Laura Vietmeyer, Managing Editor

When moving servers to a managed hosting provider, you have a lot of options to consider. Think about your needs: Do you want to focus on flexible, lean operations? Do you need to make use of large volumes of data, requiring faster processing speed and heightened security? Considering these questions will help you to select the server type that best fits your organization.

Two of the most common options are bare metal servers, also known as dedicated servers, and virtual servers.

Dedicated Servers

The bare metal, or dedicated server, is an actual physical server. The product goes online very quickly, and monitoring is automated. As a client, the bare metal server is dedicated to you and only you. That dedication provides a layer of security and privacy that you may not have with other types of servers.

A dedicated server is advantageous when your workload is data-intensive with a constant and predictable resource requirement. The dedicated server provides superior processing power, as well as network performance. You also have full control over every aspect of the physical hardware, along with service.

When relying on a bare metal server, your monthly hosting fee won’t be a surprise. If the server isn’t used to their full capacities each month, you could make the argument that some of your fees are wasted. But again, you’re getting performance and security, so it depends on your priorities.

Common use cases for dedicated servers include:

  • Rendering and transcoding
  • Gaming and game serving
  • Shared web hosting
  • Large, relational databases
  • Compliance solutions

Virtual Servers

Virtual servers run on top of networks of physical nodes, or hosts. Essentially, dedicated servers are divided into a series of virtual servers. A virtual server shares hardware with virtual servers of other clients, which is also known as a multitenant environment. This is a cheaper option when compared to dedicated servers, but it’s not ideal for clients who consider security and privacy among their top priorities.

The primary benefits of a virtual server are scalability and flexibility.  A virtual server allows for hourly, resource-based billing providing more control over your monthly fees, because you’re only paying for what you use. This model is a great benefit for small companies that want to keep lean, or growing companies that need to scale up and down quickly and efficiently.

Common use cases for virtual servers include:

  • E-Commerce
  • Complex development environments
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions
  • Software as a Service applications  

Which wins?

Ultimately the decision between a dedicated or virtual server is best made on a case-by-case basis. If you’d like more information on which type of cloud server is the right fit for your business, chat with the INAP team. We’re happy to walk you through every step.

Updated: January 2019

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