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What Is a Dedicated Server? Learn the Basics

 

By Alex Hunter, Parallels

Much like many organizations, you probably opted for cloud computing when you first launched your web application, database or mail server. After all, cloud computing services seem convenient, agile and cost-efficient. But cloud services are not the only ones in the industry.

Many are starting to realize that dedicated servers can be low cost, have higher throughput and can be just as reliable as cloud computing. You may be thinking, "What is a dedicated server-and why should I opt for one?" Learn more in this post.

What Is a Dedicated Server?

A dedicated server is precisely what its name suggests: a server dedicated entirely to your organization's tasks and performance. Unlike a typical PC, a dedicated server consists of enterprise-grade hardware resources that organizations can leverage to power their business-critical applications.

With dedicated servers, you do not share CPU, RAM or disk resources with other organizations. Sometimes, the phrase "bare metal servers" is used to describe dedicated servers because the user is close to the physical hardware, unlike cloud servers that use hypervisors to abstract the physical hardware.

Organizations can achieve the highest possible task speeds with a dedicated server because you don't share the computing power or connectivity with another organization. Also, IT administrators have full control over the server. As such, there are limitless use cases that you can achieve with dedicated servers. For example, you can use them for web hosting, database operations, email hosting and reseller hosting.

Dedicated servers consist of enterprise-grade CPU and RAM that are much more powerful, more reliable and less prone to failures than cloud services.

Dedicated server-grade CPUs

Unlike typical CPUs in consumer-grade PCs, server-grade CPUs go through more rigorous testing, leading to a more reliable and dependable component. Server-grade CPUs also incorporate more features like higher frequencies (to process more data) and Error Code Correction (ECC).

Dedicated server-grade RAM

Dedicated servers use ECC RAM, which is more reliable than consumer-grade RAM. The ECC RAM can detect and make corrections on data when errors occur, making it more dependable and reliable for business-critical applications. They can also accommodate more memory than typical RAM. Since they are built from high-quality components, ECC RAM is more expensive than standard RAM.

Server OS

In addition to enterprise-grade CPUs and RAM, dedicated servers require a specialized OS. There are dozens of different server OSes that you can choose from, but it boils down to basically two options: Windows Server OSes and Linux. While Linux remains the most popular server OS, Windows Server OSes are gaining ground.

Use Cases for Dedicated Servers

Organizations can use dedicated servers in a variety of ways, including:

  • Running mission-critical applications. Companies with business-critical applications should consider dedicated servers to improve uptime and reliability. Such applications, which may range from customer-facing applications to employee data, are crucial to the seamless operation of an organization. Besides reliability, dedicated servers improve workload control.
  • Running high-traffic websites. Hosting resource-intensive websites such as e-commerce stores is by far the most popular use of dedicated servers. Such websites receive thousands of concurrent requests and millions of hits per day. Rather than scaling out across many less powerful servers, an organization can scale up via a single dedicated server.
  • Hosting multiple websites. Most web-hosting service providers base their products on dedicated servers. This is because a high-end dedicated server can support unlimited websites, provided you ensure that its resource usage is within the resource constraints.
  • Running a dedicated firewall. Firewalls are necessary as the first line of defense against attacks in an organization. Yet commercial hardware and software can be costly. An organization can leverage a dedicated server as the first line of defense against cyber-attacks.
  • Hosting private clouds. An organization can use a dedicated server to run its own private cloud and Virtual Machines (VMs). In addition, companies can implement public cloud hosting services and still run high availability services using high-end dedicated servers.

Benefits of a Dedicated Server

A dedicated server has many advantages ranging from improved performance, security, flexibility and customization to 24/7 on-premises support.

  • Enhanced performance. Organizations that opt for dedicated servers do not share computing resources with others. This boosts the performance across many applications, such as websites and databases.
  • Improved security. Opting for a dedicated server means that no one else has access to the server, potentially boosting business security. You can also enforce firewall controls to further enhance the security of your assets without impacting performance.
  • Improved flexibility. Unlike a cloud server, you can use a dedicated server for virtually anything ranging from web hosting and e-commerce to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and email servers.
  • Enhanced customization. Unlike a shared server, your IT administrators have full control of the dedicated server. As such, they can easily customize the CPU, RAM, disk space and software based on the organization's needs.
  • Constant on-premises support. Organizations that use dedicated servers can rest easy knowing that their servers are backed with 24/7 support from an on-site professional.

Factors to Consider when Evaluating Service Providers

Choosing a dedicated server provider is perhaps the most complex part of comparing different hosting packages. From performance stability to 24/7 on-premises support, many factors impact the choice of a dedicated server provider. Some of these factors include:

Performance

The performance of a dedicated server depends largely on the server's hardware specifications. As such, you should consider the following:

  • How many gigahertz does the CPU have?
  • How many threads and cores does the CPU have?
  • How many GBs does the RAM have?
  • Is the RAM a Double Data Rate 4 (DDR4) or Double Data Rate 3 (DDR3) type?
  • How much storage space does the service provider offer?
  • What are the storage device's read/write speeds?
  • Is the storage device a hard disk drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD)?
  • Datacenter setup

The service provider should have multiple data centers at different geolocation sites. Under normal circumstances, an organization should select only a data center located close to its customers. This ensures the least-latency network (the fastest connections for end-users). In case of a calamity, such as an earthquake or hurricane, other datacenters provide continuity of business operations.

Security

A reliable service provider is one that offers the best security and scalability possible. When selecting the service provider, you should consider the following:

  • Does the service provider support multi-factor authentication (MFA)?
  • Does the service provider support intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS & IPS)?
  • What data encryption protocols does the organization support?
  • Does the organization have an enterprise-grade firewall?
  • Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

An SLA defines and documents all the agreements that the service provider compensates in case there is a server failure. As such, organizations must evaluate SLAs thoroughly before deciding to opt for a dedicated server provider.

Pricing

Eventually, every decision you make comes down to price. While a low-cost dedicated server provider may seem tempting, it may not provide you the best performance. But this does not mean that you should go for the most expensive service provider. The best option is to compare all the service providers and bargain for the best offer.

Support

Some service providers provide limited support during normal working hours and for a certain number of instances. If your employees or clients work on holidays or weekends, then you should opt for a service provider that provides 24/7 support.

Flexibility of Parallels Remote Application Server (RAS) Deployments

Dedicated servers allow organizations to realize the full benefits of centralization. But centralization alone is not enough. Business agility and scalability are some of the factors that organizations are looking for in a complex, fast-paced and ever-evolving environment. On-premises dedicated servers, hybrid cloud and multi-cloud are no longer just futuristic technologies-they are already here.

Centralized management over the entire IT infrastructure is the most efficient way of minimizing complexity. ParallelsĀ® Remote Application Server (RAS) is a highly centralized Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solution that you can install on private, public and hybrid cloud environments.

With Parallels RAS, IT administrators can publish applications and desktops, and users can access them from any location and on any device. Users can access the published applications and desktops on their PCs, thin clients, tablets, smartphones and any HTML5-compliant browsers. Since the applications and virtual desktops are hosted centrally, there is minimal end-point management.

Parallels RAS stands out because it is designed around on-premises, hybrid and public clouds, including Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Azure. You can also deploy Parallels RAS in hyper-converged environments, including Scale Computing HC3 and Nutanix Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV).

Download your Parallels RAS 30-day trial today, and experience simplified management of your dedicated server firsthand!

Published Monday, October 26, 2020 7:34 AM by David Marshall
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