Bare Metal EC2 Instances Released at AWS re:Invent 2017

AWS announces the long-awaited bare metal EC2 instances at re:Invent. With bare metal instances, you can get direct access to underlying hardware, almost 100% resource utilization, and easier licensing as a bonus. Customers with virtualization stacks can also migrate their applications to AWS cloud and host them on bare metal instances.

The bare metal instances offer the best-of-both-worlds. In the dedicated server world, bare metal instances offer a high I/O throughput, and compute resources. In the cloud world, services like elasticity, scalability, pay-as-you-go, etc. are offered by bare metal instances.

Bare Metal EC2 Instances at re:Invent 2017

AWS i3.metal instance hardware specifications:

  • Processor – 2 Intel Xeon E5-2686 v4 processors running at 2.3 GHz
  • Memory – 512 GiB
  • Storage – 15.2 TB of local SSD storage
  • Network – 25 Gbps of ENA-based enhanced networking

The AWS bare metal instances open the gate to more migrations:

  1. Licensing – Can’t use AWS cloud due to licensing constraints? Move your apps to bare metal instances. Just use existing licences without bearing extra costs.
  2. Databases – If virtualization limitations are causing legacy database systems to not perform well, bare metal instances is the answer. Run databases to achieve maximum throughput and performance.
  3. Virtualized Stacks – If you are already running virtualized stacks, you can effortlessly migrate to AWS cloud, and run applications without any changes to application architectures.
  4. Containerization – Companies are moving towards containerization. It is evident that running containerized apps is better than virtualization. Bare-metal instances are an ideal platform for running containerized apps.
  5. Complex Enterprise Applications  Applications with complex architectures which cannot be run in a virtualized environment can easily be run on bare-metal instances. Additionally, you can also leverage cloud advantages like elasticity and scalability.
  6. Grid Computing / Machine Learning – Bare metal instances provide short-bursts and high I/O throughput. This means large data processing applications like machine learning and grid computing systems can be run on bare metal instances.
  7. Compliance / Security – Applications with compliance requirements or sensitive data mandated to run on isolated servers can use bare-metal instances. This way you can achieve data isolation required for various compliance and security reasons.

Bare metal instances vs. Dedicated hosts

People may argue that some of the above advantages are provided by dedicated hosts as well. But there’s a difference between the two.

Bare metal instance Dedicated hosts
Don’t have virtualization software installed Have virtualization software installed (Xen Hypervisor)
Just like launching any other EC2 Instance Allocate and configure a dedicated host first, and then launch virtualized EC2 instances

AWS further clarifies this in their FAQ below:

“Q: Is a Dedicated Host a bare metal offering?
No, the instances that run on a Dedicated Host are the same virtualized instances that you’d get with traditional EC2 instances that use the Xen hypervisor.”

In a nutshell, AWS bare metal instances are great for custom workloads and hostile licensing,maximum resource utilization and direct hardware access.

The bare metal instances provide consistent performance in data intensive workloads, deep learning and machine learning.

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