What Is Bare Metal and How Is It Driving the Remote Work Industry?

Bare metal can refer to many things, but in virtualization, it is associated with hypervisors or software used in creating and managing virtual machines (VMs). Since they are installed directly on top of the hardware, bare metal hypervisors are independent of and freed from the constraints of the operating system (OS). In contrast, hosted hypervisors, the other type of hypervisor, are installed on top of the OS rather than the hardware. In the next sections, we will discuss bare metal hypervisors in more detail and how they differ from hosted hypervisors.

What Is a Hypervisor?

Hypervisors are software that pools resources from host PCs and allocates them to your VMs. Thus, they are essential to virtualization, which is the process of creating multiple virtual computers, or VMs, on a single piece of computer hardware.

When selecting hypervisors for your environment, make sure to look at the following:

There are two types of hypervisors, namely:

What Is a Bare Metal Hypervisor?

Most bare metal hypervisors are installed directly on the hardware, while some can be installed on the firmware, on the same level as the motherboard’s basic input/output system (BIOS).

Since it lies in the middle between the hardware and the OS, a bare metal hypervisor can take full advantage of the resources available to the former and, at the same time, circumvent the limitations of the latter. Due to these advantages, bare metal hypervisors are the most-used type of hypervisor.

What Are the Benefits of Bare Metal Hypervisors?

Bare metal hypervisors place VMs in total isolation from each other, even when these VMs reside on the same piece of physical hardware. This means that when a virtual machine encounters a problem, other VMs are not affected.

Bare metal hypervisors support live migration of VMs, allowing VMs to be moved from the server they currently reside in to other servers, without needing to stop the other VMs on both servers. This comes in handy when balancing server workloads or offloading VMs from servers requiring maintenance.

Since bare metal hypervisors are free from OS constraints, they are ideal for use in high-performance computing environments, including the enterprise datacenter, and applications with intensive processing and memory requirements such as analytics and in-memory databases.

Security is another area where bare metal hypervisors have an advantage. Since they are isolated from the OS, the most common threat vector for malicious attacks against computer systems, they do not inherit their security vulnerabilities.

If there is a disadvantage to using bare metal hypervisors, it is that they are potentially a single point of failure for your servers. If the hypervisor fails, the VMs on the server could get impacted. However, given advances in virtualization technology, chances of this happening are slim. Vigilant monitoring can help forestall it as well.

Bare Metal Hypervisor vs. Hosted Hypervisor

Hosted, or Type 2, hypervisors are installed on the OS, just like any other piece of software. Once installed, hosted hypervisors operate in much the same way as bare metal hypervisors, discovering and virtualizing resources to create VMs.

Hosted hypervisors can isolate VMs well enough and support the live migration of VMs, just like their bare metal counterparts. They are cheaper and simpler to maintain since they can utilize the OS layer that sits between them and the hardware for some of their tasks.

However, this same OS layer impacts the performance of your VMs. This is because hardware resources go through the OS first, which then allocates these resources to the hypervisor and the other applications installed on the server. In contrast, a bare metal hypervisor marshals the hardware resources and allocates them to the VMs without relying on the OS.

The OS is also a potential single point of failure when it comes to hosted virtualization. If the OS goes down, the hypervisor and its VMs are all affected. When this happens, your operations may be hampered. This accounts for why hosted hypervisors are used rarely in businesses anymore.

It is a different story on endpoint computers, where hosted hypervisors are ideal. For example, software developers often use hosted hypervisors serving different guest VMs on their machines for testing and other purposes. This helps reduce costs significantly since there is no longer any need to procure more machines.

On the question of which is better between the two, bare metal hypervisors are more suitable for use on the enterprise level. On desktop computers, hosted hypervisors remain an attractive option.

What Are Some Bare Metal Hypervisor Uses?

Since bare metal hypervisors run directly on top of the hardware, they can run VMs utilizing the server’s native speeds. They are also able to utilize all the server’s memory, processing, and other capabilities with comprehensive, enterprise-class management tools.

Bare metal hypervisors are highly scalable since they are free from any OS constraints. With their support for large failover clusters, they are ideal for use in high-availability systems. They are also highly secure since they are isolated from an OS’s security vulnerabilities.

Thus, bare metal hypervisors are ideal for use in highly available enterprise applications with significant performance and/or security requirements. A Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) running telecommunications, and financial and banking systems delivered via the cloud come to mind.

Parallels RAS: A VDI Solution That Supports Major Hypervisors

Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) enables today’s remote workers via a VDI composed of virtual desktops and applications that can be delivered to any client anywhere and at any time.

Using customized templates, Parallels RAS can automatically deploy VDI desktops on-demand, allowing on-the-fly creation and deployment of guest VMs. With these templates, your IT team can deploy VMs instantly and replicate them on demand.

Parallels RAS supports bare metal hypervisors such as VMware ESXi, allowing organizations to build a stable, yet highly scalable, highly secure, and high-performing VDI. It also supports hosted hypervisors such as Microsoft Hyper-V, and hyperconverged infrastructures such as Scale Computing HC3. With Parallels RAS, you can also opt for a multi-cloud IT infrastructure with a mix of on-premises and public cloud solutions such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.

To start using Parallels RAS as a VDI solution, download the trial.