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The Next Big Thing in Cloud Hosting: Baremetal Servers | @CloudExpo #Cloud

The cloud is great for businesses because it allows them to manage their resources easily

Cloud hosting has been in existence for 10 years. Going into its second decade, it's time for something new. What's the latest trend? Good old, plain dedicated servers - but rebuilt and reinvented.

Although it's not required by any definition of a cloud, virtualization has become part and parcel of cloud hosting - not because it's necessary for clouds, but merely because it's very convenient.

First and foremost, the cloud is great for businesses - of all sizes and in a variety of industries - because it allows them to manage their resources easily. There's no need to pre-order a server and wait until it's ready. Virtualization has brought effective tools for that. On the other hand, for providers, virtualization brings a theoretical possibility to utilize resources more efficiently and thus lower costs and lower prices for end users.

It's worth noting that in a virtualized environment, companies always have to share resources. As a result, even when resources are generally abundant, at certain times, cloud servers on some nodes might experience resource starvation. There are several ways to mitigate this possibility. Providers can keep larger reserves (which yield to less efficient utilization and a higher price), or introduce some complicated billing mechanism that will regulate such situations by incentivizing companies with some extra costs (e.g., CPU credits on Amazon).

On top of that, many systems still don't scale-out and scale-up, nor do they show any tendency to be ready to scale-out. Anyone who ran SAP HANA can confirm this. That's not the only example. For such software, running on top of a virtualized cloud is not a viable option. It normally requires more and more resources, and the overhead of virtualization can be unbearable.

With the rise of Docker, consolidation can be done by a company, not by a provider. Running Docker containers is a no-brainer compared to running a full virtualization stack. It can be done by companies' developers and doesn't require a dedicated person.

The real next big thing in hosting will be baremetal servers - very similar to good old dedicated servers. From our experience, companies are buying baremetal servers and building their own clouds on top of that. Sometimes they're going for full-featured virtualized clouds, sometimes for simple Docker-based solutions.

However, we are seeing certain workloads running on baremetal servers without any "cloudification." One good example is Aerospike, a data store, heavily used by the AdTech industry.

Baremetal servers can be ordered and deployed within 30 minutes, which is still a lot compared to cloud servers spinning up in less than a minute. One good barometer is to ask yourself: How often is it critical for me to have an instance up in one minute or less? The answer should be "rarely," but not "never." That's why cloud should still be present in a hosting provider's portfolio - and it should be integrated with dedicated servers. It's just a matter of proportion: the pendulum has swung to the cloud side, and is now moving back to baremetal.

Contrasting cloud and baremetal hosting is not technically an accurate dichotomy. Cloud does not require virtualization by definition. That's why I firmly believe that baremetal is the new cloud. Even on the entry level, at the price level of under $10 monthly, baremetal is slowly gaining momentum. This is thanks in large part to the success of ARM technology, which enables running a baremetal - yet very small and cheap - server.

However, in order to win the positions back, baremetal servers should be provisioned fast, integrated with "classical" virtualized cloud and provide an easy and convenient management interface including API.

For companies looking for the "new" cloud hosting, baremetal servers represent a viable, effective base on which to build their clouds.

More Stories By Nikolay Dvas

Nikolay (Nick) Dvas is COO of Servers.com. He has been working in the hosting industry since 2010, and joined XBT Holding, now the parent company for Servers.com, in 2013. At XBT Holding he was in charge of building a cloud platform. Currently, he is managing operations of Servers.com, XBT’s latest venture, aimed at bringing enterprise-grade hosting to SMBs.

Nick received his MSc in Mechanics in the St. Petersburg Polytechnical University (Russia), and is a holder of a PMP (Project Management Professional) degree, and is a member of a Project Management Institute.

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