Technically Speaking

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When to opt for Metal Cloud servers in your business and why?

Any company that needs a server for its business is faced with the choice between a physical server and a cloud virtual server. Both types have their strengths, as well as some disadvantages. So how do you know which to choose for your business? This article explains the difference between them as well as present some definite use cases for bare metal.

Physical servers, also known as dedicated or bare metal servers, offer the best performance because the operating system is installed directly and can use all available resources. However, these servers are not flexible and upgrading them is difficult or even impossible. Any adjustment, such as adding more RAM, requires removing the server from its rack, with a significant downtime.

Cloud virtual servers are virtual machines that can be quickly resized according to needs. Provisioning is very quick and in theory there are no size restrictions. Regardless of the virtualization technology used, there are a number of issues. The main one is performance; cloud machines are slower than the equivalent bare metal ones because of the additional software layers required. While small servers can work very well, there is a serious performance drop for large machines. In addition, all virtualization solutions rely on a shared resource pool and there is always the risk that problems on a machine will affect others that are on the same hypervisor.

The best of both worlds

Bigstep’s Metal Cloud servers have been designed to close the gap between the traditional server types and provide both the power of bare metal and some of the versatility of cloud machines. The Metal Cloud architecture consists of physical servers of several sizes, connected to separate storage pools by a very fast dedicated Layer 2 network. This setup allows drives to be detached from one server and attached to another one, so a server can be replaced with one of a different type in just a few minutes. Similar to cloud machines, metal cloud servers can be upgraded or downgraded according to needs, with minimal downtime. While this model is not as versatile as a real cloud platform, there are many server types to choose from, tailored to cover all of the common tasks.

In order to provide the best performance, some of the servers also have local disks, including SSD and NVMe drives. Additional private dedicated layer 2 networks can also be configured, as well as VLANs and bonded connections. Unlike physical servers, which must be provisioned and configured manually, Metal Cloud machines offer templates and automatic installation for all of the most common operating systems, as well as automatic provisioning and scaling of a number of big data applications, container clusters or object storage nodes.

When to use Metal Cloud

Due to their high performance and scalability, Metal Cloud servers are the best choice for almost any use case. But let’s discuss two scenarios that are especially suitable for this innovative technology.

Firstly, for online commerce both power and flexibility are a must. The resource needs of online shops can fluctuate greatly. There are many periods of low activity, when a large server becomes a liability and generates unnecessary costs. However, massive resource upgrades are needed when there are active promotions and sales, especially during Black Friday. Bigstep’s Metal Cloud makes it possible to switch, for example, from a server with 8 CPU cores and 32 GB RAM to one with 40 CPU cores and 384 GB RAM, with a downtime of just a few minutes. If even more power is required, a simple but effective method of load balancing is available by default, and our engineers can build complex architectures that can handle even the highest amount of traffic. Customers only pay for the time when they actually use the servers, on an hourly basis. It is very convenient to scale up resources when demand is high, then immediately revert to an inexpensive server in order to reduce the hosting bill.

Secondly, startups and ambitious new companies that plan to expand aggressively can also fully use the benefits of Metal Cloud. Estimating resource needs can be quite difficult, so many such companies end up being tied to a long-term contract for a server that is either too large or too small for them. Since Metal Cloud servers can be upgraded or downgraded at any time, future expansion and cost control are no longer issues. It is even possible to stop servers when they are not used, if the budget is tight.

Choosing the right technology stack is a key decision for a new company and can be a great asset for future growth. Bigstep’s Metal Cloud combines the power of bare metal with the most useful features of virtual servers in order to create a unique high-performance hybrid platform.

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