When to Use Bare Metal as a Service, Public Cloud or Both

Learn how to choose the workload placement option that best meets your unique requirements for performance, security and scalability

Ian Botbyl
When to Use Bare Metal as a Service, Public Cloud or Both

In the ever-evolving landscape of cloud computing, businesses face myriad options when selecting the right infrastructure to meet their specific requirements. Two prominent choices are Bare Metal as a Service (BMaaS) and the public cloud. While both offer powerful computing resources, they differ significantly in terms of infrastructure management, performance, security and scalability.

In another blog post, my colleague Justin Beck explained what bare metal is and discussed how businesses can achieve a cloud-like experience when they use Bare Metal as a Service. Today, we will explore the unique characteristics of BMaaS and the public cloud to help you make informed decisions about when to use one or both in your infrastructure stack.

How Bare Metal as a Service (BMaaS) works

Bare Metal as a Service—also known as dedicated instances, dedicated servers or dedicated compute—provides users with direct access to physical servers, enabling them to deploy and manage their software and applications without the overhead of virtualization layers. Bare metal offers a level of control like that of an on-premises environment, providing dedicated hardware tailored to specific workloads and requirements.

Bare metal’s single-tenant compute and storage capacity makes it an excellent choice for businesses with high-performance workloads or applications that demand dedicated hardware, and those that face stringent compliance requirements. In the Equinix 2023 Global Tech Trends Survey (GTTS), 81% of global IT leaders said that complying with data protection regulations was one of their top future-proofing priorities.

Bare metal servers close the gap between traditional dedicated servers and the cloud by providing both the power and security of dedicated servers and some of the versatility and flexibility of virtual machines in the cloud. BMaaS is also a useful infrastructure option when companies launch their cloud modernization strategies.

Understand the cloud and how it adds value

The cloud offers virtualized infrastructure where resources are shared among multiple customers. Providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) offer a wide range of services, including computing, storage, databases and networking, delivered over the internet on a pay-as-you-go basis or on contract. Public cloud is known for its flexibility, scalability and ease of access, making it suitable for businesses of all sizes. It allows users to quickly provision resources, scale up or down as needed and benefit from a vast array of prebuilt services.

Determine criteria for infrastructure management control

One of the key distinctions between BMaaS and the public cloud lies in infrastructure management. With bare metal, users can completely control the physical servers and customize the environment to meet specific requirements. This level of control is particularly valuable for applications that demand high-performance computing or require compliance with specific regulations.

In contrast, the public cloud abstracts the underlying infrastructure, allowing users to focus on their applications without worrying about hardware maintenance or management. The cloud provider handles hardware provisioning, software updates and network management tasks, freeing users from the burden of infrastructure management and enabling rapid deployment.

Identify critical drivers for performance and scalability

BMaaS provides users with dedicated physical resources, ensuring consistent performance and low-latency connectivity. It’s an ideal choice for applications that require high-performance computing, intensive data processing or low-latency response times. Since bare metal eliminates the virtualization overhead, it can deliver superior performance compared to the public cloud for certain workloads.

On the other hand, the public cloud offers elastic scalability, enabling businesses to provision resources on demand and scale their infrastructure up or down as needed. This flexibility makes it an excellent choice for applications with varying workloads or companies experiencing rapid growth or seasonal fluctuations. With the public cloud, users can instantly allocate additional resources, ensuring high availability and accommodating changing demands.

Determine control levels required for security

Security is a critical aspect of any infrastructure choice. With BMaaS, users have greater control over their security measures, including physical access, network isolation and data protection. This level of control is crucial for industries that handle sensitive data or are subject to compliance regulations.

Public cloud providers invest heavily in security measures, leveraging advanced encryption, access controls, and security monitoring to protect customer data. They also adhere to stringent standards and certifications, providing a secure environment for most use cases. However, businesses in certain industries with unique security requirements may prefer the additional control offered by bare metal.

Balance cost considerations with best-fit infrastructure

Cost is a significant factor for businesses when considering their infrastructure choices. BMaaS typically involves a fixed-cost model, where users pay for dedicated physical resources regardless of utilization. It can be beneficial when businesses have predictable workloads with consistent resource requirements, but it may result in underutilization and higher costs for variable or sporadic workloads.

The public cloud follows a pay-as-you-go model; customers are billed based on actual resource usage. It offers cost advantages for businesses with unpredictable workloads, as they only pay for the resources they consume. Also, the public cloud eliminates upfront hardware costs and ongoing maintenance expenses.

Aim for flexibility when selecting a digital infrastructure partner

Choosing between BMaaS and the public cloud depends on your organization’s specific needs and objectives. Carefully evaluating your requirements and understanding the trade-offs associated with each option will help you make informed decisions that align with your business goals.

Regardless of your decision, Equinix digital services can support your requirements for high performance and low-latency workloads. We can help you build a hybrid infrastructure environment that brings together Equinix Metal, our BMaaS offering, with low-latency access to partners and service providers in the cloud.

  • Equinix Fabric® is directly integrated with Equinix Metal and allows you to interconnect the components of your digital infrastructure and connect with ecosystem partners, globally and at software speed.
  • Network Edge allows you to deploy the network services you need without the cost and complexity of physical hardware.

To learn more about how deploying Equinix Metal can help meet specific infrastructure requirements, read the Infrastructure Optimization Guide.

You may also be interested to read the data sheet Make infrastructure your competitive advantage with Equinix Metal.


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Ian Botbyl Senior Manager, Product Marketing
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