Why Managed Hosting Providers are Clamoring Over Bare Metal Kubernetes

Handoyo Sutanto
November 9, 2022
Handoyo Sutanto
November 9, 2022

Kubernetes Bare Metal: The New Standard for Managed Hosting

Cloud computing has dominated the enterprise infrastructure landscape for over a decade, but now its old rival is making a comeback with a dramatic new twist: Kubernetes bare metal.

Bare metal, single tenant machines traditionally referred to as dedicated servers, were quickly outmatched by cloud computing options starting in the early 2000s. As a result, enterprises and developers could now switch to a simple cloud-based infrastructure and avoid buying a sea of bare metal machines and managing them on-premises. Cloud services quickly replaced hardware resources as bare metal technology became a thing of the past.

But bare metal isn’t out of the fight. Computer components have advanced by leaps and bounds in the past decade, with processors, RAM, and hard drives becoming faster and cheaper. In addition, advancements in software like Kubernetes allow bare metal machines to provide the scalability, and load-balancing capabilities enterprises expect — outside of the cloud.

The result: bare metal is a viable option once again. It not only competes with cloud computing infrastructure services, known as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), but it can even exceed its speeds for less money. 

Bare metal has solved a conundrum that many businesses currently face by providing high performance at a fraction of the cost. 

Bare metal alternatives have gained significant traction in data-intensive markets that require low latency, such as Big Data and IoT. Bare metal can process data faster and cheaper than many IaaS solutions by sidestepping per-unit costs, the hypervisor tax, and the noisy neighbor effect.

A bare metal cloud is the best of both worlds. The new term describes a platform like Lyrid with Kubernetes managing a cluster of bare metal machines, creating a cloud-like environment without any virtualization or shared tenancy

The signs of opportunity for this specific marriage of technology are here, with the bare metal cloud market expected to grow at a CAGR of 24.1% between 2020 and 2026, reaching up to US$16.4 billion. That speaks to the rapid resurgence of the tried and true dedicated server with modern improvements.

Should you consider embracing bare metal coupled with Lyrid and Kubernetes? Doing so may improve reliability, speed, security, and cost-effectiveness. 

Keep reading to learn more about the modern state of bare metal ecosystems to help you decide if it’s the best route for you.

What’s Involved When Using an IaaS Provider?

Running your application on an IaaS provider like AWS or Azure isn’t always the best option. You’ll pay per unit usage, licenses, the hypervisor tax, fees, and markups. 

Let’s break down the standard technology stack you interact with when using an IaaS provider. Generally, it will look something like this:

  1. Hardware
  2. Operating System OS
  3. Hypervisor
  4. Operating System error
  5. Platform-as-a-Service (such as Kubernetes)
  6. Application

Using a bare metal platform entirely skips three and four, as running Kubernetes on bare metal will directly interact with the operating system of the machine.

What Exactly is a Hypervisor?

The hypervisor is an essential component of virtual machines that creates, runs, and manages VMs. It does its best to separate your data and usage from other tenants on the machines, but it’s not perfect. 

With VMs, you’ll often have the ‘noisy neighbor’ effect. This effect describes when other tenants within the machine, on their own VMs, have a surge in usage, affecting your performance. For example, if your neighbor had a viral news article, their app usage might explode. You’re then wondering why your performance has degraded and have to contact support for answers.

The hypervisor also creates an additional vulnerability that enables cyber attacks. Notable exploits targeting hosted hypervisors include Spectre, Meltdown, and Row Hammer, each taking advantage of VM software to target the hardware. Removing hypervisors from your infrastructure disables this attack vector entirely.

You Don’t Need the Hypervisor Tax with a Bare Metal Hypervisor

The “hypervisor tax” refers to the total cost of running the hypervisor and VM. It includes the cost of licensing, additional support, potentially specialized new hires, the second OS, and compute time. You’re typically charged per core, CPU, and per watt. 

It can all add up quickly. The resource inefficiencies of VMs lead to cost deficiencies that become more pronounced as you scale. Paying extra per compute might be reasonable initially, but it rapidly escalates as you consume more resources.

Bare metal and bare metal hypervisors avoid these “taxes” by allowing you to rent and completely control a machine or cluster of machines, while allowing for a direct connection between software and hardware. You’ll generally pay a flat monthly fee to rent each machine; then, with Kubernetes, you can create a cloud-like ecosystem without the hypervisor tax. You can also buy the machines outright and return to on-premises infrastructure, but it’s not required.

IaaS vs. PaaS

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) look incredibly similar from a business perspective but vary at the technical level. 

IaaS platforms depend on a massive cloud infrastructure to scale based on user consumption. Therefore, an IaaS platform like AWS must accommodate every company using its infrastructure.

PaaS, on the other hand, is often smaller and more customizable. Lyrid with Kubernetes is a PaaS platform you can use with any cloud or bare metal ecosystem. It’s difficult to build your own IaaS platform and compete with the big players, but you can certainly build a PaaS platform with bare metal machines that accomplishes your needs.

Typically, IaaS focuses on enterprise-level network and data storage, while PaaS focuses on providing a complete solution to host, build, and deploy applications. However, PaaS can also accommodate various enterprise-level requirements depending on the vendor.

The Latest Technology Makes Bare Metal Viable

The average benchmark for server processors in 2010 was roughly 3.8 GHz, which was around when cloud computing started taking over. 

Yet, in 2022 the average server CPU benchmark is a substantial 12.3 GHz. Keep in mind that this describes raw benchmark results, not the gigahertz rating on the processor, meaning it takes into account multiple cores and describes real-world performance.

Hard drives and memory have both advanced as well, with NVME solid state drives and DDR5 RAM, respectively, providing significant performance improvements. Additionally, both components’ predecessors may still work adequately and have substantially dropped in cost. Finally, GPUs have also massively improved if relevant to your needs.

Kubernetes has transformed infrastructure management on the software side by enabling clustered microservices to be deployed or destroyed as necessary, even on bare metal systems. 

The power of Kubernetes transforms bare metals ecosystems into cloud-like environments without relying on VMs. As a result, you can sidestep the cost and performance degradation of IaaS while reaping the benefits of scalable and distributed services.

Time to Dispel Common Bare Metal Myths

IT is known to circulate misconceptions that don’t often update as technology advances. Bare metal is filled with myths that may have been true at one point but are now outdated. 

Let’s break down some of the most common misconceptions preventing enterprises from evaluating bare metal ecosystems earnestly.

Myth #1: Bare Metal is Hard to Manage

This myth has some truth behind it; bare metal can be hard to manage. The difficulty stems from the hardware, which comes in various chip sets, driver configurations, and other technical variances.

You’ll need to understand bare metal vendors, the hardware they use, and identify potential challenges ahead of time. 

Fortunately, solutions now exist to solve this difficulty and make bare metal management similar to managing a cloud environment. 

PaaS platforms like Lyrid offer services to manage the hardware level on your behalf. The platform is an added layer of support to simplify hardware management to overcome the inherent challenges of interacting with hardware directly, letting you reap the benefits of bare metal Kubernetes without the usual headaches.

Myth #2: Bare Metal Lacks Core Capabilities

Do you have to leave core capabilities behind to use bare metal? Unfortunately, this myth leads you to believe that autoscaling, redundancy, and disaster recovery are exclusive to IaaS solutions. While this may have been true a decade ago, it’s not anymore.

PaaS platforms shine by providing all the necessary capabilities you need, whether you use bare metal or VMs. You’ll still have the powerful features of cloud computing that led to its popularity without the added costs. With the Lyrid platform, you’ll be able to access automation capabilities such as:

  • Auto scaling
  • Load balancing
  • Auto healing
  • Bare metal automation

And so much more, all within a single platform.

Myth #3: Bare Metal Doesn’t Horizontally Scale

You can still scale with bare metal, which will likely be more cost-effective. You’ll still need a PaaS platform alongside additional hardware to scale horizontally, but you’ll scale cost-effectively and with improved reliability. 

You won’t be at risk of dealing with noisy neighbors and VM vulnerabilities, instead having complete control of every machine in your infrastructure.

Kubernetes clusters will deploy or destroy microservices as needed throughout your bare metal machines.

Economies of Scale: Bare Metal Maximizes Costs

The economics behind bare metal is substantially more favorable than a standard IaaS solution. Paying per unit of resource consumption with IaaS can start reasonably but exponentially skyrocket as your application grows.

Conversely, you’ll pay a flat rate to rent a bare metal machine that won’t change based on your usage, only increasing if you need additional machines.

For example, let’s say you have an AI workload that needs to process massive amounts of data rapidly. With a VM setup, you might need three VMs, each with 8 CPUs and 8 GB of RAM. Yet, you won’t be using all their power on your workload; some will go to the hypervisor itself. And you’ll be paying for every bit of data you process.

Taking the same task to bare metal allows you to complete faster operations with the same hardware. For example, one study by IBM found that a bare metal machine could process approximately 1,700 operations per second. At the same time, an equivalent virtual server could only process roughly 1,200 operations per second.

With bare metal, you’ll not only process data faster, but you won’t be paying per unit of consumption as with IaaS. 

A Better Option — Bare Metal with Kubernetes

Bare metal coupled with Lyrid and Kubernetes may just be the next wave in infrastructure management. Enterprises and developers will have all the capabilities they need at a substantially reduced cost. 

Our vision is to recreate the IaaS experience with bare metal. You might call it Bare Metal as a Service — bare metal machines available on demand to overcome the IaaS and VM limitations and high costs.

All it takes is data centers creating a hardware pool that’s readily available for companies to tap into when necessary, buying entire machines to scale on demand. We’ve already created the groundwork; now, all our vision needs is adoption.

Should You Use IaaS?

IaaS has become the standard for good reasons. It provides several key advantages that are still worth considering, provided you keep its massive drawback in mind.

What does IaaS bring to the table? Some notable advantages include the following:

  • Capable of pooling resources across several physical machines, dividing resources as necessary to provide reliability and scalability.
  • Always benefit from the latest infrastructure improvements and advancements, provided you work with the right vendor.
  • A wide range of IaaS vendors to choose from as compared to bare metal.

Yet, IaaS isn’t perfect. It has one significant drawback: costs.

Every quality of life improvement, unit of resource consumption, and the hypervisor tax rapidly increase costs as your usage scales. Unfortunately, these costs can become prohibitively expensive for many organizations and significantly cut into operating expenses without providing additional benefits.

Should You Use Bare Metal?

Bare metal is coming back to life as a cost-effective alternative to IaaS. When implemented alongside Lyrid and Kubernetes, bare metal gives you all the strengths of IaaS without its prohibitive costs. 

The significant benefits of bare metal are:

  • You rent the equipment itself; you can use it however you wish without paying extra based on usage.
  • Able to better manage IT costs with predictable monthly billing based on your rented machines — no surprise bills because usage spiked.
  • Excels at low-latency and data-intensive tasks, like AI and business intelligence.

However, bare metal still isn’t perfect. For example, you can suffer from hardware vendor lock, which makes picking the right vendor essential. Additionally, the size of the machine is inflexible on its own, which is why having several machines operated by Lyrid and Kubernetes can provide flexibility to meet usage spikes.

Bare Metal Gives You A Cost-Effective Infrastructure

The underlying infrastructure that powers your network, storage, and consumer-facing apps is essential. You can’t compromise speed and reliability, but you also don’t want to overpay. 

Kubernetes on bare metal gives you all the benefits of cloud-based IaaS platforms without the additional per-unit consumption rates and hypervisor tax. Instead, you’ll pay a predictable monthly fee for a cloud-like infrastructure that provides all the capabilities you need.

Ready to see how Lyrid can bring bare metal back to your organization? Contact us today to learn more about how we’re pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with bare metal infrastructure.

Do you operate a data center? We’re ready to help you upgrade to a Bare-Metal-as-a-Service model to build the next generation of cloud-like environments. Lyrid has already helped other data centers create their own managed services using BMaaS offerings, and we can help you, too. Reach out to us today to learn how we can help.

About Lyrid

Lyrid is a multi-cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider that makes developing new cloud native solutions easier and more affordable. As a vendor-agnostic cloud platform, Lyrid utilizes data, machine learning and user policies to wrap, deploy and execute the applications seamlessly between all the public clouds. The Lyrid platform is available in free/hobbyist and Pro versions and is designed for organizations of all sizes, from startup to enterprise. All users enjoy a variety of tools, data, analytics, redundancy and automation that make going to market globally with cloud native apps more efficient. With Lyrid, enterprises can innovate more affordably, increase cloud vendor flexibility, and test new ideas without disruption to their existing processes.

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