January 16, 2020 By IBM Cloud Team 3 min read

More and more companies are turning to a combined solution of bare metal and virtual servers to handle their workload demands.

Bare metal and virtual servers are often seen as different solutions to the same need for robust and reliable enterprise grade infrastructure. Customers will review a list of pros, cons, and ‘best uses,’ and then pick the solution best fit for their needs. But what if the better choice—and competitive advantage—comes from having these server options working together.

A simple breakdown shows 53% of IBM Cloud customers use bare metal servers and 47% use virtual servers, but a deeper dive shows an increasing number of cloud customers using a combined solution to advance their business needs.

Bare metal and virtual servers

To understand the benefits of a combined infrastructure, it’s important to first understand what each server solution offers. As a dedicated, single-tenant hardware option, bare metal servers are the top choice for security, privacy, and global computing power. Companies with a need for minimal latency delays and high reliability often turn to a bare metal server solution, with a custom or prepackaged configuration, for high-performance, data-intensive applications

A virtual server is several layers of software, including the hypervisor and virtual server operating system, running on a bare metal server. Virtual servers are transient, public, dedicated, highly customizable, and meet a range of robust system demands with privacy, simplicity, scalability and cost-saving flexibility. These servers are part of the foundation for the public cloud computing Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) stack

Picking a server: Secure high-performance or scalable flexibility?

Many customers start with one compute option based on their top need. When Ricoh expanded its conferencing systems, for example, the company needed a solution with low latency, global reach, and high service reliability. For this, migration to bare metal servers across five IBM Cloud global data centers made the most sense.

As demand rose, Ricoh needed to increase capacity at a faster rate, but couldn’t risk losing its high reliability ratings with current customers. The company moved to a mixed solution by adding virtual servers to ensure capacity and future scalability.

Comprehensive server solutions and competitive advantages

Some IBM Cloud customers have, from an early stage, benefitted from the foresight and competitive advantages that come from a combined compute solution. The argument in favor of this solution stems from the strengths of each server balancing out the weaknesses of the other.

Both offerings come with the benefit of privacy from the most secure public cloud for business, but a combined infrastructure allows for a comprehensive synergy of advantages. A bare metal server can continue data-intensive workloads with top-tier security, but with the better-supported utilization rates and scalability of virtual servers. Similarly, virtual servers remain highly customizable without losing performance speed, security, and control thanks to the strengths of bare metal servers.

Nanigans, a company offering online advertising solutions to in-house marketing teams, needed a scalable, affordable way to handle vast global workloads without compromising performance and quality. The company simultaneously provisioned bare metal and virtual servers across IBM Cloud data centers for this very reason.

For Nanigans, the competitive advantage is clear: the scalability and lower cost of virtual servers supported by secure, global, high-performance bare metal servers brings the best of both worlds to the companies’ cloud infrastructures. Nanigans, for example, can support and track more than 1 billion post-click events and 1.5 billion online user profiles every day.

Targetprocess, another company benefitting from a combined compute solution, relies on a stable and flexible hosting platform. Using more than 120 bare metal servers and 50 virtual servers, Targetprocess easily manages a flexible solution that pays dividends as it continues to spread across the globe as a leader in reliable, top-quality service.

In the words of Eugene Khasenevich, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder at Targetprocess, “IBM Cloud solutions give us the freedom to focus on development rather than administration.”

Synergy for competitive advantage

IBM Cloud bare metal and virtual servers share some commonalities, including the benefit of running robust enterprise grade workloads with reliability, privacy, and scalability on the most open and secure public cloud for business. However, the differences in these choices are clear, and sometimes viewed as contradictory. Increasingly, companies are turning to a combined solution of bare metal and virtual servers to handle their workload demands with dense resources, high-speed performance, global scalability, industry-leading security and top-tier reliability. As businesses face growing complexity on a global scale, there is a competitive, cost-effective advantage to this synergistic approach to use a combined server solution from the start.

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