Bare metal as a service (BMaaS) is a service offering that provides clients (tenants) with dedicated physical servers. In practical terms, BMaaS sits between colocation and regular infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Here is a quick guide to what you need to know about bare metal as a service.
In a BMaaS environment, a third-party vendor provides and manages servers for the client’s (tenant’s) exclusive use. These servers are built to the client’s choice of hardware specifications.
The client takes responsibility for managing everything from the hardware level up. For example, if they wish to use an operating system and/or a virtualizer, they provide and manage this themselves.
With BMaaS, the servers are owned by the vendor. The client simply has the use of them. With colocation, the servers are owned by the business itself. This means that in a BMaaS arrangement, any issues with the servers are the vendor’s responsibility. With colocation, they are the responsibility of the business itself.
With BMaaS, the vendor only provides the actual, physical hardware. Everything that sits above that is the client’s responsibility. With IaaS (or dedicated servers), the vendor also provides virtualization software. They may provide an operating system as well.
How bare metal as a service compares to other options
The most obvious alternatives to BMaaS are colocation and IaaS. Here is a quick guide to how BMaaS compares to them.
In practical terms, the set-up costs of colocation, BMaaS, and IaaS are likely to be fairly similar. Colocation will require more up-front investment if you purchase your hardware. On the other hand, if you choose to lease it, the costs will be similar.
Again, the running costs of colocation, BMaaS, and IaaS are likely to be fairly similar. Technically, with colocation, there is the risk of unexpected expenses. In reality, there are ways to mitigate these.
In particular, businesses can use a managed IT agreement to mitigate the risks involved with recruiting and retaining staff. This is especially relevant in the IT sector, where there is a chronic under-supply of skilled personnel.
In terms of scalability, BMaaS is on roughly the same level as colocation. That means it’s more scalable than traditional infrastructure. It is, however, much less scalable than IaaS. With BMaaS, a vendor is going to have to add or remove a physical server. The more heavily customized the server is, the harder it will be to deploy and/or decommission.
With IaaS, the vendor simply has to reconfigure virtual machines. There is no need for them to change any underlying hardware. This means that scaling IaaS implementations can usually be done in a few mouse clicks.
It’s very difficult to make a direct comparison between the maintenance overheads of colocation, BMaaS, and IaaS. Realistically, for many businesses, they are going to be more or less equal. This is because they will be handled either by vendors or by managed IT service providers.
If companies are going to manage any of these services in-house, then they will need specialist support for any option. Colocation and BMaaS both bring the challenge of managing infrastructure from the hardware upwards. With that said, having this level of control also has its benefits.
By contrast, virtualization may sound convenient but it also requires effective management. In short, using virtualization is an exercise in resource management. Your ability to manage resources effectively will determine not only your system’s performance but also its costs.
Colocation and BMaaS are the clear winners when it comes to customization. IaaS providers generally provide a decent range of customization options. They cannot, however, offer the infinite customization options you get with colocation or BMaaS.
This can be a very serious consideration if you have a lot of legacy software you want to lift and shift to the cloud. A lot of legacy software was designed to run on very specific hardware. What’s more, the hardware configurations legacy software needs may not be at all common these days.
With colocation and BMaaS, you can continue to support even the quirkiest of legacy software requirements. You can then work to update the software at a pace that fits with your overall business priorities.
Colocation and BMaaS also have the edge if you want minimum latency and maximum processing power.
Assuming that the system is implemented to the highest standards, colocation BMaaS and IaaS offer equal levels of security. The key difference is the colocation and BMaaS both put more responsibility for security on the client than traditional IaaS. Whether this is an advantage or a disadvantage is entirely a matter of personal opinion.
Colocation and BMaaS have a small edge here. This is purely because they do not need to use virtualizers. They may not even use operating systems. This means that there is less to go wrong, hence better reliability.
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