A bare-metal server is a physical server dedicated to a single tenant. Despite seeing the rise (and rise) of bare metal servers in recent years, they are not new and have been commercially available for more than a decade. Many big players in cloud storage now have bare metal server offerings.
Bare metal servers remove the overhead hypervisor that enables virtualization with cloud computing services, meaning that there is nothing preventing applications from performing at their fastest. However, some vendors' bare metal server offerings tote both the high-performance benefits of a physical server and the multi-tenancy benefits that come with virtualization.
Despite being often used interchangeably, the terms 'bare metal server' and 'dedicated server' refer to different types of server. As such, it's worth asking yourself: bare-metal vs dedicated servers: which is the better hosting option? before making a decision.
Here then are the featured bare metal hosting providers we think are the best.
Best bare-metal hosting - at a glance
- IBM Cloud Bare Metal Servers
- Oracle Bare Metal Instance
- Amazon EC2 C5 Instances
- Alibaba Cloud ECS Bare Metal Instance
- Fasthost Bare Metal Servers
- Scaleway Elements Bare Metal Cloud Servers
- Zenlayer Bare Metal Cloud
- Redstation Gaming bare metal servers
- HEFICED bare metal servers
IBM positions its Cloud Bare Metal Servers offering as a more affordable alternative to AWS in many cloud computing scenarios. The company acquired SoftLayer and its bare-metal server capabilities six years ago and now runs more than 60 IBM Cloud data centers across 19 countries.
Its bare-metal servers can be customized to meet workload needs, with more than 11 million configurations available that can be paid for hourly, monthly or through reserved capacity pricing. IBM uses the latest Nvidia GPUs, in addition to 1-, 2-, or 4-core Intel CPUs, to chew through heavy workloads.
If you need a highly tailored bare-metal server configuration that caters for specific workloads, Oracle’s Bare Metal Instances could be for you. Options include a 'Standard' instance configuration for standard purpose workloads, which balances CPU cores, memory and network resources to suit a range of applications and use cases. 'HighIO', for performance-intensive database workloads with high IOPS requirements, offers local NVMe-based SSDs and delivers fast random I/O and high IOPs.
For big data workloads, there's 'DenseIO', and 'HPC Instance' is Oracle's most powerful config designed for massively parallel HPC (or high-performance computing) workloads.
In November 2019 Amazon launched a new bare metal option for its EC2 C5 server instances, which are commonly used for running compute-heavy workloads like batch processing, distributed analytics, and high-performance computing. Called c5.metal, Amazon is aiming its bare metal instances at companies deploying applications that need to avoid being slowed down by virtualization, need access to physical resources and low-level hardware features, and are intended to run directly on server hardware.
Amazon EC2 C5 Instances can take advantage of Elastic Load Balancing, Auto Scaling, Amazon CloudWatch, and other AWS services.
Based on the company's next-generation virtualization technology, Alibaba’s ECS Bare Metal Instance offers both the elasticity benefits of virtualization and the performance advantages of physical servers. Compatible with all Alibaba Cloud products, ECS Bare Metal Instance supports CPU configurations of between eight and 96 cores, in addition to instance memory expansion from 32GB to 768GB.
Storage configurations start from virtual server images or cloud disks and support mounting of multiple cloud disks for better storage capability. It’s all protected by Alibaba’s stringent security requirements, so you won’t need to worry about your data's welfare.
One for companies that want access to data centers and support based in the UK, Fasthost Bare Metal Servers will let you run projects on single-tenant servers with dedicated resources, purchased by the hour or month with pay-as-you-go billing.
In terms of storage, you can choose between hard disk for high capacity; SSD (for fast storage); or NVMe for speedy and capacious storage. Servers can be spun up in minutes and feature integrated load balancing for spreading resources around server infrastructure to optimize performance.
Scaleway Elements Bare Metal Cloud Servers offers hardware configurations based on Intel Xeon or AMD EPYC CPUs that are available in Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS and other Linux variants. Deployable in a snap, configurations include General Purpose (balancing CPU, RAM and Disks for production environments); High CPU (boosted with CPU for big data applications); and High Memory (boosted with memory for virtualization or RAM-demanding applications).
They offer a slew of features that include remote booting from an ISO file, and the ability to manage servers via Scaleway Console or an API (to automate the creation, installation, reboot or deletion of services).
For high-performance computing with cloud-like flexibility, Zenlayer Bare Metal Cloud lets you spin up servers from 25 locations within 10 minutes. (Other locations are available if you call them to enquire.) Servers run on a private backbone, meaning traffic between Zenlayer Bare Metal Cloud PoPs (points of presence) bypasses public internet connections.
Zenlayer is a particularly enticing option if you're building a high-performing hybrid cloud, as its bare metal cloud can be connected with public clouds from companies such as AWS; Azure; IBM Cloud; SAP and Oracle to create a private network.
Redstation's bare metal servers benefit from multiple tier 1 transit and peering partnerships, meaning they are configured to give gamers the lowest pings even if they're located across the other side of the world to their team-mates.
The company's fiber network offers unlimited bandwidth and is suitable for hosting applications needed to monitor and optimize performance, monetize moments and deliver advertising. Redstation's servers operate in a DDoS-free environment, so you won't have to worry about your gaming customers falling victim to a DDoS attack mid-session.
HEFICED's bare-metal servers promise high performance, robust security, and are available with a high level of customization. Used by companies such as IBM, Avast and PureVPN, the company's servers are located in ISO-certified, state-of-the-art Tier 3 data facilities which feature power and cooling redundancy to ensure maximum uptime and enterprise-grade infrastructure for mission-critical applications.
They also come equipped with Intelligence Platform Management Interface (IPMI) to ensure easy remote access and monitoring - and you get access to in-house tech support who can solve infrastructure-related issues onsite without delay.