The cloud computing industry is evolving. Cloud service providers like SoftLayer are finding ways to deliver the scalability and flexibility of virtual machines on bare metal hardware. But can we really call that “cloud”? Apparently yes and here’s why…

Forrester defines bare-metal cloud services as:

IaaS offerings that deliver dedicated physical infrastructure that does not include virtualization and is provisioned via the same type of cloud interface with the common characteristics of VM-based cloud offerings, including on-demand access, unlimited scale, and detailed resource accounting.

Virtual machine (VM)-based cloud services remain important, useful, and popular, but bare-metal offers some unique advantages. Your overall portfolio of services and service components will include cloud computing in a myriad of public and private forms. The resulting hybrid ecosystem, which includes many parts — cloud and non-cloud alike — presents you with plenty of opportunity to design and deliver an optimal customer experience.

Why use bare metal?

Deterministic performance. Your workload is running on a dedicated resource, so there is no question of any “noisy neighbor” problem, or even of sharing resources with otherwise well behaved neighbors.

Extreme low latency. Like it or not, VMs, even lightweight ones, impose some level of additional latency compared with bare-metal OS images. Where this latency is a factor, bare metal clouds offer a differentiated alternative.

Raw performance. Under the right conditions, a single bare-metal server can process more work than a collection of VMs because it does not incur the overhead of the hypervisor stack, even when their nominal aggregate performance is similar. Benchmarking is always tricky, but several bare-metal cloud vendors can show some impressive comparative benchmarks to prospective customers.

The best-fit workloads for bare-metal cloud

  • Time-critical bounded transactions and latency-sensitive workloads
  • Workloads where multi-tenancy is not acceptable but cloud agility is required
  • Gaming
  • Streaming media processing and other high I/O workloads
  • Streaming and real-time analytics such as ad insertion and social media analytics


Architecturally, you can view bare-metal cloud as an extension of a dedicated hosting environment, and many current bare-metal cloud providers had their roots in — and still provide — traditional hosting and managed services offerings. As a natural evolution of this business model, most bare metal cloud providers offer the option to combine dedicated hosting or managed services with their bare-metal cloud offerings. Customers can run the variable or flex portion of the workloads in the cloud environment and the stable production portions with minimal or at least predictable load variation in the dedicated environment.

Schedule a consultation today to learn more about the benefits of SoftLayer bare metal cloud solutions from Flagship.

If you liked this blog, you might also like:  2015: SoftLayer Highlights

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