Until very recently, the concept of the bare-metal cloud wasn’t really on the radar of most businesses looking for cloud services. Marketing efforts to reach consumers of cloud services tended to focus on the virtualization of the customer's IT needs, with a back-box approach to describing the back end.
But to a significant percentage of potential cloud customers, the idea of a faceless backend was not an appealing one, nor was the thought of their business needs simply sharing resources with an unknown number of other customers. When you combine this attitude with one of the fastest growing segments of the data center business, colocation facilities, the answer becomes glaringly obvious, in a “why didn’t I think of that” kind of way: the bare-metal cloud.
With the bare-metal cloud you get what most people see as the advantages of the cloud: the ability to rapidly provision and deploy services as your business needs them, with many of the advantages of colocation, and hardware dedicated to your business alone, running only what you want provisioned. While this may smack of the era of dedicated servers and forced over-provisioning, the reality is that it is completely within the cloud services model.
Unlike the Amazon AWS model, that has come to typify the “cloud”, where all servers and services are virtualized, in this situation the physical servers are provided and provisioned on demand and are billed for in hourly or specific time increments, based on the contracted services. The provider is responsible for the care and feeding of the servers, as well as the rest of the datacenter facility.
Internap has found demand growing to the extent that it is now offering its bare-metal cloud from seven of its data centers, adding London and Hong Kong to expand its European and Asia offerings from Amsterdam and Singapore. These are in addition to its US-based services in NY, Dallas, and Santa Clara.
Centurylink, which acquired Tier 3 and Saavis, made bare-metal services available out of its California and Virginia data centers last month. The bare-metal cloud fits in well with its “let the data center professionals handle the data center while you focus on your business” model. Rackspace got into the market as well, last month, with its OnMetal service.
But of all the players, IBM has been the most aggressive in expanding the availability of bare-metal services. It just opened a new datacenter in Toronto for its SoftLayer services, IBM’s version of the bare-metal cloud, as the number 5 data center of 15 planned in its $1.2 billion investment in delivering cloud services to customers this year.
If you’ve been torn between running your own datacenter, moving to cloud services, or perhaps looking at colocation, you might find that you are the perfect customer for the bare-metal cloud.