Guest Column | January 14, 2021

Stay Relevant To Customer Needs With Bare Metal Automation

By Bernie Wu, MetalSoft

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It’s been almost 15 years since Amazon released its EC2 cloud service, and a decade since Microsoft’s Azure hit the market. Since then, the cloud has evolved beyond recognition. Cloud services have grown from basic storage to a spectrum of mature IaaS/PaaS/SaaS solutions, targeting companies of all sizes across almost every industry.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the move toward remote access infrastructure, with office setups increasingly redundant in the age of home working and Internet video conference meetings. Given the dramatic changes in living and working patterns so far in 2020, service providers could risk becoming increasingly irrelevant to their customers by continuing to base their service offerings on traditional working methods. It’s no longer enough to simply offer server hosting or IT outsourcing when clients now expect a more comprehensive provision of services, with near-instant accessibility and near-flawless reliability.

Learn how MSPs can ease digital transformation for their customers by building and operating a cloud-native bare metal infrastructure.

Infrastructure And Workload Demands Are Changing

It’s easy for MSPs with successful products or established customer bases to assume what worked yesterday will continue to work tomorrow. Yet cloud technologies are evolving at an incredible rate. Functions that were centralized just a couple of years ago are now being pushed to the edge. Digital transformation is being rolled out across industries as diverse as telecoms, health, finance, and retail, leaving late adopters far behind the vanguard of progress.

Bare metal automation platforms provide remote management of bare metal infrastructure for service providers and enterprise-level businesses. This helps underpin the growth of modern services like NoSQL databases and containers. The latter has risen in popularity, with a recent Gartner report suggesting more than 70% of global organizations will be running multiple containerized applications by 2023, compared to just 20% last year. MSPs are increasingly recognizing that compartmentalized applications are more portable and flexible than virtual machines, suitable for relocation to different container environments with minimal revisions.

Benefits Of Bare Metal For MSPs

Offering bare metal cloud services could provide your business with several key advantages:

  1. Remote working and automation have never been so important, at a time where physically accessing a workplace can be challenging. Bare metal allows you to automate more of your client’s operations and makes it easier to manage their infrastructure remotely. This is crucial for remotely managing edge-based IoT hardware or micro-datacenters.
  2. Bare metal automation software platforms can support an array of cloud-native infrastructure, from centralized core processing to distributed edge resources. Create a more cloud-like experience for your clients while bringing them the benefits of on-premises.
  3. Meeting your client SLAs is a vital part of remaining a trusted provider for them. Multi-tenant bare metal platforms tend to deliver more consistent performance since they’re not sharing networking, compute, and storage infrastructure with other companies running resource-intensive workloads. There’s also no incompatibility with all types of workloads including VMs, containers, AI/Big Data, and legacy applications.
  4. Automation is baked into certain bare metal platforms, offering full management of everything from servers, networking, and storage. This allows MSPs to operate lights-out data centers, simplifying the process of automating operations, and allowing you to provide greater support services.
  5. With the demand for bare metal automation, adding this to your service offerings provides a new source of revenue with higher margins. It also offers companies a lower-cost alternative to the public cloud.

Now that the benefits for your business are clear, why would your clients want to choose bare metal over a public cloud infrastructure? In the past few years, many companies have become frustrated with the vendor lock-in associated with many cloud storage agreements. There’s also a tendency for public cloud service providers to steadily increase their costs, knowing they have a captive audience. As companies become more enmeshed in a particular provider’s infrastructure, billing, and hardware, it becomes harder to switch without significant inconvenience and disruption. Bare metal offers companies a way to move away from the reliance on these cloud service providers and gain more ownership over their data.

Evolving Client Infrastructures

While the cloud has evolved immeasurably since 2010, so have the roles played by the companies reliant on cloud infrastructure:

  • A tech business that started with a single datacenter might now have several centers in key traffic locations around the world.
  • A company that began as an online document storage provider may also offer site hosting and business applications today.
  • A firm whose offerings were once fully centralized may increasingly be adopting edge solutions, to minimize latency and improve the overall UX.
  • A business with assertive management may have launched separate brands or acquired subsidiaries along the way, creating a multifaceted company with varying tech needs.

In environments where companies are constrained or limited by their existing infrastructure, bare metal can support integrated and automated management of networks, storage, and servers across multiple data centers across the globe. Most importantly, your team can manage this infrastructure remotely and on-demand, without compromising on the core cloud benefits of expandability and seamless performance. This increases your value to companies as you can now provide more responsive and comprehensive services without requiring on-site support.

Building on a key strength of leading cloud services, bare metal solutions can be self-managed or managed directly by you, depending on the company's resources and budgetary preferences. This allows you to present several different service options to your clients. Even if your client has a limited technical understanding of bare metal, they can still benefit from its stability and scalability. With the ability to automate certain operations and provide remote support, you can price various support services to fit the different budgets and demands of your clients. This makes it easier to quote a solution and service agreement to fit each company’s unique needs.

Best Of Both Worlds

Bare metal was developed as a best-of-both-worlds hybrid, combining a dedicated server, networking, storage with a cloud-like experience that offers optimal efficiency and full accessibility. Bare metal solutions are tailor-made for a future of computing that involves high-performance and low-latency services, capable of scaling while remaining completely reliable.

Best of all for MSPs, bare metal supports existing technologies while offering scope to expand the provision of future products and services. It’s the ideal underpinning if your business wants to move with the times and stay relevant to the needs of your customers.

About The Author

A technology executive leader, Bernie Wu is currently Head of Business Development for MetalSoft. He has 25+ years of experience as a senior executive at data center hardware and software infrastructure companies including companies such as Conner/Seagate, Cheyenne Software, Trend Micro, FalconStor, and Levyx. He has a BS/MS Eng. from UC Berkeley and an MBA from UCLA.