A dedicated server is an enterprise-grade physical server used to host the applications and services of a single hosting client. Dedicated servers are typically used to host high-traffic websites, web applications, and for other hosting scenarios where performance is paramount.
To answer the question “What is a dedicated server?”, it’s useful to start with a comparison to other types of hosting. The most common infrastructure hosting options are shared hosting, VPS hosting, cloud hosting, and dedicated server hosting.
The main differentiating feature is that a dedicated server is a single tenant hosting environment. Most infrastructure hosting options divide a server between two or more users: cloud hosting platforms, for example, divide the resources of one physical server between several virtual machines. Known as multi-tenant hosting environments, none provide the full resources and performance of a dedicated server.
With dedicated server hosting, everything the server has to offer is at your disposal, which is why dedicated servers are the most powerful infrastructure hosting option — no other hosting option can give your more power and flexibility.
Bare Metal Server or Dedicated Server
Before we move on, I’d like to clear up a naming confusion. As you research dedicated servers, you’ll come across the phrase “bare metal server”. A bare metal server is the same thing as a dedicated server. The difference has more to do with branding than the product itself.
Bare metal conveys that the user is close to the metal, the physical hardware, as opposed to a cloud server, which includes a hypervisor layer that puts the user at a remove from the bare metal.
Dedicated Server Hardware
A dedicated server is essentially a computer like the desktop machines that you use at home or at work. Each server contains processors, memory, storage, network hardware, and buses to connect the components together.
But dedicated servers don’t look like ordinary computers and they don’t contain quite the same components. Unlike the consumer-grade components of the average PC or Mac, dedicated servers contain enterprise-grade hardware that is more reliable, less prone to failure, and much more powerful.
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples: RAM and the CPU.
Dedicated Server RAM
Enterprise-grade servers typically use ECC (Error Correcting Code) RAM, which is both more reliable and more expensive than the RAM in the average laptop or PC. ECC RAM includes special hardware that prevents many of the most common causes of data corruption. Corruption occurs for all sorts of reasons, ranging from electrical interference to cosmic rays, and ECC RAM is capable of detecting and making corrections when errors occur.
Error correction makes dedicated servers more reliable, and where business critical applications are concerned, reliability matters. Dedicated servers run 24-hours-a-day for years at a time without a hiccup, and they can do that because they’re built with high-quality components.
Dedicated servers are also able to accommodate more memory than an average machine: it’s not unusual for a dedicated server to be equipped with up to 512GB of memory.
Dedicated server processors are, as you might expect, the most powerful processors on the market. Chip manufacturers create processors that specifically target servers, such as Intel’s Xeon range, which is engineered for optimal speed, reliability, and scalability.
In this context, scalability is directly related to the number of processor cores that can be installed on a server. The most powerful dedicated servers have upward of 40 processor cores, making them capable of crunching huge amounts of data.
Rack Mounted Servers
Dedicated servers differ from non-server machines in another conspicuous way: they don’t look the same. Dedicated servers are designed to be mounted in data center racks, taking up as little space as possible while providing optimal cooling for equipment that can generate a lot of heat.
The other components in a dedicated server are of equivalent quality, from the most reliable storage to the fastest buses, all engineered to move data around the machine as quickly and reliably as possible.
Because dedicated servers are intended to be the premiere hosting option, dedicated server hosting plans are also given generous bandwidth allowances compared to other hosting options.
In a nutshell, if performance and reliability are your most important concerns, you won’t find a better hosting solution than dedicated servers.
Dedicated Server Use Cases
Now we’re clear on what a dedicated server is, it’s time to take a look at how they’re used. Dedicated servers are chosen for two main reasons: power and privacy. Dedicated servers provide better performance than other hosting options, and all of that power is at the disposal of a single user.
High-traffic websites and eCommerce stores are hosted on one or more dedicated servers. Hosting a web site that receives thousands of concurrent requests is resource intensive, and many site owners opt to “scale up” to a more powerful server, instead of “scaling out” across many less powerful servers. Choosing a more powerful dedicated server is less complex than building out a cluster of smaller machines.
Web hosting companies and service providers that offer web hosting base their products on dedicated servers. In fact, many smaller web hosting companies build their products on dedicated servers leased from companies like ServerMania.
A high-end dedicated server is capable of supporting hundreds or even thousands of moderately trafficked WordPress sites.
Private Cloud Hosting
Public cloud platforms are built on dedicated servers, and many organizations choose to rent a dedicated server on which to run their own private clouds, virtual machines, and in some cases, to build public cloud hosting services of their own — ServerMania’s high availability public cloud runs on the same powerful dedicated servers we lease to our customers.
Databases often support business-critical operations; they must be both reliable and capable of reading and writing data very quickly.
Renting vs. Buying A Dedicated Server
Once the choice of a dedicated server has been made, the next decision is whether to buy or rent. Some organizations choose to buy a server and house it with a colocation provider.
Colocation has its advantages, but the burden of managing a colocated server rests on the client. The client has to deal with any issues that arise with their server, usually in person.
By renting or leasing a dedicated server, much of the management and maintenance is handled by the hosting provider, and you’ll never be expected to carry out repairs or pay for replacement hardware yourself.
Additionally, when you lease a server on a month-by-month basis, you’re free to change hosting providers at any time. That’s not the case if you make a capital investment in server hardware.
If you’d like more information about finding the ideal dedicated server for your business, our experts will be happy to provide a free consultation and quote.