Today, an enterprise’s infrastructure can combine a mix of dedicated servers and private and public clouds, some of which can be located on-site, and others hosted across various service providers. In this article, we are going to look at the two basic choices that organisations have, dedicated and cloud servers, and will explain their similarities and differences so that business leaders will be able to make a more informed choice about which type of server best suits their needs.
Dedicated servers and cloud servers both offer reliable, high-performance server environments. They can be used with the same operating systems, applications, control panels and services, and require similar server management. However, while they are both capable of doing similar jobs, there are good reasons to choose one over the other in different circumstances.
Physical versus virtual
The main difference between the two types of servers is that a cloud server is virtual while a dedicated server is a physical machine. Although cloud servers need powerful physical machines on which to run, virtualisation technology makes them independent from them. This gives cloud servers a range of beneficial attributes that dedicated servers do not have.
One of these attributes is that a cloud server can instantly be moved across physical machines. This means that if there was a problem with the hardware, the virtual server can continue to operate on another physical machine without going offline. Indeed, even if an entire data centre went offline due to a fire or flood, service could continue at the vendor’s other data centres. What this offers enterprises is 100% guaranteed uptime, which makes cloud servers ideal for running critical applications that need to be online all the time.
Dedicated servers, on the other hand, are one and the same as the physical machine. This means they may need to be taken offline for reboots after updating or patching and although their hardware is top of the range, they can still be susceptible to hardware failure.
Another advantage that the cloud server has over a dedicated server is easy scalability. While businesses can scale up dedicated servers horizontally and vertically, these options are not always ideal. Adding a new server to scale horizontally is expensive and takes time for the new server to be built, configured and added to the system. Scaling vertically, meanwhile, involves taking the server offline to upgrade components like storage, RAM and CPUs. In a cloud environment, where there is significant redundant capacity at the ready, additional server resources can be added at the click of a button. As a result, elasticity is unparalleled: enterprises can scale up as much as they need to cope with demand and do so instantly. What’s more, unlike with a dedicated server where once you’ve scaled up there’s no going back, in the cloud, additional resources are paid for on a pay-per-use basis. This allows companies to scale back down whenever they need, reducing long-term costs.
The speed of the cloud is not just helpful for acquiring additional compute resources, it’s also useful for quickly creating new servers. In the cloud, a new server, complete with resource requirements, can be created and deployed within minutes. This is much faster than with a dedicated server, where even an off-the-shelf model can take 24-48 hours to come online and bespoke models even longer. When acquired for deployment in-house, this process can take weeks. For businesses that need to deploy servers at speed in order to get to market quickly, cloud servers offer a definite advantage.
Bespoke versus standard components
While the discussion above might make it seem that cloud servers always have the upper hand, this is not entirely the case. One distinct advantage that dedicated servers do have is that they can offer better performance. This is because a dedicated server can be created with bespoke physical attributes, whereas cloud servers, although they can make use of scaling, are reliant on the standard hardware deployed across a data centre. While modern data centre machines are very powerful, at Hyperslice we have Intel Xeon clusters, DDR4 and SSD drives, a dedicated server user can choose the specific components they require, such as the chip model, the number of cores, DDR4 capacity and SSD size. This flexibility enables enterprises to deploy dedicated servers with better compute and I/O performance that are ideal for running resource-hungry applications, such as data analytics.
Another advantage of a dedicated server is that it is single-tenancy hardware, unlike data centre infrastructure which is shared across multiple users. This can make it more suitable for enterprises that have stricter security and compliance requirements.
Both cloud and dedicated servers offer reliability and high performance. In terms of choosing between them, dedicated servers offer additional security and if built to a particular specification, can offer better performance. This makes them ideal for heavy process workloads. Cloud servers, meanwhile, are best suited for critical applications that need high availability, for deploying servers and applications at speed, and for running apps that need instant scalability. For information about our managed IT solutions, visit Hyperslice.com.