Among the first steps when starting a business are choosing a company scope, drafting a business plan, selecting a company and domain name, designing a beautiful website, and deciding on a hosting solution. We can’t help you with the first few, but we can give you some pointers on which server is best for your business goals. After all, you don’t want to lose your clients to the competition because of lack of speed and performance.
Let’s first look into what types of servers there are and some of the most important features.
Dedicated vs. Virtualized Servers
Dedicated and virtualized are the two main server categories. The main difference between them is that dedicated servers are physical machines, while virtualized servers are software constructs that run on dedicated servers. If you need a server for your business, however, you’ll have to dig a bit deeper and decide between one of these four subtypes: dedicated server, VPS, virtual cloud servers, and bare metal cloud servers.
The Four Server Subtypes
Dedicated servers are physical machines with fixed RAM, processor, and hard drive, with the operating system installed directly on the machine. Dedicated servers are also called bare metal servers; however, they are differentiated in the industry by the tech pros, and the difference usually comes from the configuration and the performance.
As mentioned previously, virtualized servers, or VPS, are software constructs that run on dedicated servers, which means that you can host multiple virtual servers on a single dedicated machine with the help of a hypervisor. The hypervisor allows you to emulate virtual compute resources like CPU, RAM, disk, and network. Virtualized servers often come with the default operating environment, software, and apps.
A cloud server is a server that provides the same functions, capabilities, and performance as a traditional server, but is built, hosted, and delivered through a cloud computing platform. Cloud computing represents the delivery of different services, or on-demand computing services, over the Internet.
Finally, the bare metal cloud is a mix of two subtypes of servers: they are physical machines, just like dedicated servers, with fixed RAM, processor, hard drive, and network, but have cloud-like functionalities, like scalability and flexibility. Although the bare metal cloud hybrid features the best of both worlds, the bare metal cloud’s flexibility is a bit different from the flexibility of cloud servers. The bare metal cloud has no hypervisor to host different operating systems. Although the OS is installed directly on the server, nothing is done manually, and the servers are orchestrated, provisioned, and managed entirely from the outside by using server controllers. With some providers, hardware changes are done automatically.
Now that we know what they are, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of each subtype, based on specific use cases.
First, dedicated servers, or bare metal, are great for predictable workloads, data-intensive workloads, and workloads that don’t change quickly enough to require the by-the-minute scalability of cloud servers. If your bandwidth usage is high, and your website performs poorly, you may need more resources than a shared website hosting plan provides; that’s when you should consider dedicated servers. Due to their single tenancy (no one else is using the same machine as you), dedicated servers are great for handling sensitive data, featuring a high level of security. If you need high performance, a dedicated server will almost always outperform a virtualized solution.
Virtualized servers (VPS), on the other hand, are better for highly variable workloads, as they are easily scalable. They are also great for small websites, blogs, and static websites that don’t require that much power. If your site has outgrown the space offered on a shared hosting plan, especially if you run multiple high-traffic websites, it’s probably best to opt for a VPS.
Due to their hyper-scalability, cloud servers are great for big data analytics and IoT. By moving these operations to the cloud, you also bypass the struggle and the costs to keep up on-premise servers or data centers and leave this responsibility to the cloud service providers. Businesses that require constant backup also benefit from using cloud servers.
By combining the security, performance, flexibility, and scalability, the bare metal cloud servers are great for most use cases. Bare metal cloud servers are well-suited for all data-intensive workloads, high-transaction workloads that do not tolerate latency, and for storage that is used intensively and frequently, such as big data applications, data analytics, Internet of Things, machine learning models, artificial intelligence, and so on. Due to the auto-scaling feature, they are also great for websites that have spikes in traffic and deal with seasonality, such as e-commerce platforms.
Moreover, these types of hybrid server solutions can be customized in terms of software, operating environment, and application. Better security is also an advantage. With a hybrid server, you can set your own protocols for data access without relying on a third-party (as much as 56% of businesses say they suffered data loss due to a third party).
It’s not an easy decision. Start from your business goals and technology stack to be able to determine what infrastructure you need. Consider several factors: budget, security, performance, scalability, and customization. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages of all options, you will be in a much better position to decide on the right solution. If you’re still feeling lost, download my company’s free guide to servers for more detailed information and advice.