Is the Bare-Metal Cloud the Solution for Your Small Business?

rsz_wikimedia_foundation_servers-8055_24For businesses of all sizes, the move to the cloud is proving to be a gradual one, with many organizations choosing to dip a toe in the water first. In the cloud industry, that “toe” is more of a hybrid solution, where businesses continue to store some data or applications locally while also relying on cloud solutions for some operations.

What is Bare Metal?

In a bare-metal environment, the virtual machine is installed directly on a piece of hardware, rather than within a host operating system. This is designed to increase scalability and flexibility and has proven popular within some industries.

But is it the best option for every business? Not necessarily. The bare-metal approach has been found to be ideal for those organizations regularly in need of fast data-intensive functions. Environments with software developers or data scientists may find the latency in hosted virtual machines frustrating and bare-metal solutions can resolve that.

The SMB Connection

For SMBs, however, a bare-metal solution may lead to the quick realization that they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. Setup and support of bare-metal environments can be involved, especially for those businesses that lack access to full-time IT support for their servers.

SMBs often outsource those operations that would normally require heavy-duty server work, if they employ those operations at all. With a bare-metal approach, organizations find they are unable to provision bare-metal servers as easily as they can with a virtualized environment.

For businesses dealing with big data analytics or app development on site, a bare-metal solution could prove to be the best option. However, the simplicity of housing data in a virtualized environment will likely be the best choice for SMBs, who experience no latency. Only those conducting highly complex operations are likely to see any slowdown in a virtualized environment.

Virtual Desktops: The Future of Business?

We’ve all heard plenty about the growing popularity of Cloud computing, but in many workplaces, employees are still connecting to servers via a traditional desktop or laptop PC. Mobile device use allows employees to connect directly to the Cloud, but there are still many employees chained to a desk all day. Think of the many receptionists, call center operators, customer service technicians, and similar workers for whom a tablet doesn’t make sense. For those employees, the future is likely in the virtual desktop.

The Basic Concept

The concept makes more sense than the current mode of operation in many businesses. Instead of purchasing a $600-$1,000 PC and associated software for each PC, businesses run everything off one central server, assigning each worker a designated piece of space. It’s an internal Cloud that centralizes everything. Instead of moving from PC to PC to install, update, and troubleshoot software, IT professionals can control operations from one central place, potentially even offsite. Security is also a benefit to virtual desktops, since workplaces no longer have to worry about desktop malware.

So what’s stopping all of this innovation? Believe it or not, expense. The software that powers all of this technology, VMWare, is notoriously expensive, prohibiting most enterprises from deploying it. The good news is, VMWare seems to realize this limitation, having announced recently that they’re working to streamline costs in order to make the technology available to the masses.

Cloud-Based Virtualization

Cloud service providers are also catching on to the potential of virtualization. These much larger companies are able to deploy the software directly to users, without an on-site server required. Virtualizing desktops can allow them to work side-by-side with the same mobile devices a business’s traveling employees are using to access those same servers. As Cloud providers race to be the first to offer these solutions to businesses of all sizes, those companies that aren’t yet Cloud-based will continue to gradually migrate operations to the Cloud. This migration will prepare them for the day virtualization becomes a part of their business model.