Choosing A Dedicated Server For Your Software-As-A Service Application
Public cloud platforms are often the default choice for companies building Software-as-a-Service applications: the public cloud offers unparalleled scaling with flexible on-demand pricing and most public cloud platforms have automation capabilities via comprehensive APIs.
In short, the cloud is a great choice for SaaS. However, that doesn’t mean other infrastructure hosting options should be dismissed before they’ve been given careful consideration. Dedicated servers — also known as bare metal servers — have distinct advantages as a SaaS hosting platform.
Price / Performance Ratio
Even the most efficient cloud platforms can’t approach the price-performance ratio offered by a dedicated server or cluster of dedicated servers. This might seem a counter-intuitive statement because cloud servers are available at lower price points than than dedicated servers. You won’t find an adequately powerful dedicated server for $5, but there are perfectly usable cloud servers at that price point.
But when you compare like-to-like server performance, a dedicated server will almost always offer a more powerful CPU, lower IO latency, and more storage compared to similarly priced cloud servers.
This doesn’t always matter: some SaaS application scenarios require the sort of rapid scaling that the cloud offers, and the lower price/performance ratio is an acceptable compromise. But there are well-defined situations in which the scaling potential of a dedicated server platform is more than adequate to the needs of the application. In those scenarios, choosing bare metal makes sense.
Building To Scale
A scalable infrastructure hosting platform is not the same thing as a scalable application. To take full advantage of the scaling benefits of the cloud, the application has to be designed and built with scaling in mind. If it isn’t, then the application won’t scale properly on any infrastructure, regardless of how easy it is to spin up new servers.
If your Software-as-a-Service application is built for horizontal scaling, it can be scaled across dedicated hardware almost as easily as on a public cloud platform. The time window for scaling is likely to be longer on dedicated hardware than a cloud platform, on the order of minutes or hours rather than seconds, but that’s not a disadvantage that will trouble most SaaS application developers.
Bare Metal Or The Cloud?
Dedicated servers are a strong contender if high-performance, low-latency infrastructure is the priority. There’s no real reason that software-as-a-service should necessarily be linked to infrastructure-as-a-service. For each project, application developers should consider the relative advantages of each platform and make an informed decision the suits the needs of their application.
Public cloud platforms are a good choice for SaaS hosting, but they aren’t the only choice.