Bare metal hypervisors are advanced virtualization solutions for businesses that require efficient resource allocation, optimal hardware utilization, and multiple operating systems management. Also known as Type 1 hypervisors, they efficiently manage virtual environments while minimizing downtime.

This article explains everything you need to know about bare metal hypervisors, their benefits, drawbacks, and implementation use cases.

Bare metal hypervisor explained

What Is a Bare Metal Hypervisor?

A bare metal hypervisor is virtualization software installed directly on the physical hardware of a computer system. It is not attached to an underlying operating system and interacts directly with the hardware resources. This enables the efficient running of multiple virtual machines (VMs) that organizations use to develop, test, and host applications.

The stability and robustness of bare metal hypervisors make them particularly well-suited for scenarios where high performance and reliability are a critical factor, such as data centers, enterprise environments, and cloud services.

Bare Metal Hypervisor vs. Hosted Hypervisor

Bare metal hypervisors (Type 1) and hosted hypervisors (Type 2) differ primarily in their architecture and performance characteristics. For an overview of their most prominent features, consult the table below:

Point of ComparisonBare Metal Hypervisor (Type 1)Hosted Hypervisor (Type 2)
InstallationDirectly on physical hardwareOn top of a host operating system
Underlying OSNo underlying operating system requiredRequires a host operating system
PerformanceHigher performance due to direct access to hardwareSlightly slower due to the additional OS layer
EfficiencyHighly efficient resource utilizationEfficiency can be impacted by the host OS
SecurityMore secure because of a smaller attack surfaceLess secure since the security is dependent on the hypervisor and the host OS
ScalabilityHighly scalable; suitable for large-scale deploymentsLess scalable; more suited for individual or small-scale use
Use CasesEnterprise data centers, cloud environmentsDevelopment, testing, small business environments

For an in-depth analysis of the differences between bare metal hypervisors and hosted hypervisors, read our blog article.

Benefits of Bare Metal Hypervisors

Bare metal hypervisors offer many advantages, including:

  • Optimized performance. Bare metal hypervisors run directly on the physical hardware. The absence of an underlying operating system reduces system overhead and ensures consistently reliable performance.
  • Enhanced security. Bare metal hypervisors provide isolation between VMs, so if one is compromised, the others remain unaffected. Additionally, in the absence of a host OS, bare metal hypervisors have smaller attack surfaces and are less vulnerable to malware and attacks on operating systems.
  • Scalability and flexibility. Bare metal hypervisors can handle many virtual machines, making them easy to scale.
  • Resource efficiency. By allowing dynamic resource allocation, bare metal hypervisors ensure that resource use is optimized across all virtual machines.
  • Reliability and stability. Bare metal hypervisors are more stable because they do not rely on a host OS. This ensures higher uptime for critical applications.
  • Easy maintenance. Bare metal hypervisors are managed centrally, which makes it easier to control and maintain large virtual environments.
  • Compatibility. Bare metal hypervisors are compatible with various cloud environments, simplifying cloud migration.
  • Support for multiple OSes. Bare metal hypervisors support multiple types and versions of operating systems within the same physical hardware by creating a level of abstraction that allows running different OSes on each VM.
  • Network virtualization and storage capabilities. Bare metal hypervisors offer advanced solutions for network virtualization and storage management, essential for the efficiency of complex IT infrastructures.

Drawbacks of Bare Metal Hypervisors

While they offer superior performance and efficiency, bare metal hypervisors come with certain drawbacks:

  • Complex setup and management. Setting up and managing a bare metal hypervisor requires a high level of expertise, especially in large-scale deployments involving multiple VMs.
  • Higher initial investment. The licensing costs of bare metal hypervisors are significantly greater than those of hosted hypervisors. Furthermore, finding compatible hardware can incur additional costs.
  • Limited hardware compatibility. Hardware compatibility issues may arise since bare metal hypervisors are compatible with only a restricted range of hardware.
  • Resource allocation challenges. Bare metal hypervisors must sometimes allocate resources to VMs in fixed amounts, potentially causing underutilization or overconsumption of resources.
  • Less suitable for small-scale projects. Casual users and small-scale applications may find bare metal hypervisors unsuitable due to complexity, costs, and a steep learning curve.
  • Upgrade complexity. Upgrading or updating a bare metal hypervisor requires downtime for the entire system and can be intricate and time-consuming in large environments.
  • Complex mobility and portability. Moving a virtual machine from one bare metal hypervisor to another and integrating it into a new cloud environment can be challenging.
  • High energy consumption. Bare metal hypervisors are not energy-efficient unless they achieve full utilization.

Optimal Use Cases for a Bare Metal Hypervisor

Bare metal hypervisor benefits

Bare metal hypervisors are best suited for use in the following cases and scenarios:

  • Enterprise data centers. Bare metal hypervisors satisfy the demands of enterprise data centers, which require efficient management of high-volume workloads, optimized resource allocation, and reliable performance.
  • Cloud computing. Bare metal hypervisors easily enable infrastructure as a service (IaaS) providers to host multiple tenants and provide their clients with robust isolation and security.
  • Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Bare metal hypervisors are suitable for hosting desktop environments on central servers because they ensure high security, effective resource utilization, and a smooth user experience.
  • High-performance computing (HPC). Bare metal hypervisors guarantee the stability and performance of applications that run simultaneously and require extensive computational power.
  • Development and testing environments. Developers can easily test software and applications within a single physical server to speed up the development cycle.
  • Business continuity and disaster recovery. Bare metal hypervisors are highly reliable and stable, which is crucial for ensuring business continuity and minimizing downtime in emergencies.
  • Server consolidation. By using bare metal hypervisors to reduce the number of physical servers in their infrastructure, organizations achieve financial savings and energy efficiency.
  • Regulatory compliance. Bare metal hypervisors provide isolation, essential for maintaining privacy and data protection, as required by the most stringent regulatory standards, such as HIPAA and PCI DSS.
  • Remote and branch office management. Bare metal hypervisors provide easy and secure management and resource allocation to companies with geographically dispersed branch offices.
  • Large-scale virtualization deployments. Bare metal hypervisors can manage multiple virtual machines without negatively impacting the performance of any of them.

How to Choose a Bare Metal Hypervisor?

When selecting a bare metal hypervisor, it is essential to assess your organization’s needs and consider factors such as scalability, flexibility, performance, and security. Furthermore, it is important that the hypervisor provides a robust, well-supported ecosystem that is easy to manage, reliable, and complies with industry standards. Before committing to a bare metal hypervisor, conduct a proof-of-concept test to establish your and the hypervisor’s system compatibility. Following these recommendations will ensure that the final choice aligns closely with your organization’s current needs and long-term IT strategy.

phoenixNAP offers highly adaptable bare metal hypervisor solutions to companies with diverse organizational needs. Our servers are easily scalable and avoid overconsumption through effective resource allocation. Furthermore, our advanced infrastructure leverages the latest hardware, ensuring high performance and reliability. With a presence in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, phoenixNAP enables organizations to bring their applications and workloads closer to their users. We also guarantee 100% uptime and round-the-clock support, helping businesses quickly resolve issues and achieve continuous operation.

Unlocking the Potential of Bare Metal Hypervisors

Bare metal hypervisors stand out as a solution for organizations looking to achieve high performance, efficiency, and business continuity. When searching for the most suitable one for your business operations, keep in mind your needs, such as consistent performance, direct hardware control, and robust security features. The right bare metal hypervisor will bolster your IT infrastructure and ensure your organization remains agile, secure, and ready to face today’s digital challenges.