What is a dedicated server?
A dedicated server is a complete physical server that you rent from a web hosting company for exclusive use as a single tenant. This as opposed to a server shared with other customers from the hosting provider (shared hosting).
Another term that describes a dedicated server is bare metal server. A bare metal server is also single-tenant, but can be delivered almost immediately because it has a fixed configuration and can be paid for by the hour. A bare metal server cannot be customized, whereas a dedicated server can.
What are the advantages of dedicated servers?
Dedicated servers offer premium performance
Since all processor power is exclusively reserved for you, a dedicated server can process intensive workloads very quickly. The immediate advantage is that an application that runs on a dedicated server can generally process requests more quickly as the application performance is not impacted by traffic from other tenants. The fact that there is no hypervisor tax (only virtual servers have this) adds to the available power.
Security levels of dedicated servers are high
A dedicated server has no shared platform ‘underneath’. Therefore, a company that uses a dedicated server can set its own security requirements. Naturally, you need to comply with regulations concerning data residency of the country you are based in.
Dedicated servers are fully configurable to meet your needs
Dedicated hosting is ideal for I/O intensive workloads such as big data, gaming, media streaming or large e-commerce websites. In most cases, a dedicated server is fully configurable, and can be tailored to your needs with memory, disk space and bandwidth.
Being a single tenant eliminates many potential server management problems. Ideally, a hosting provider offers self-service through a remote management module that most A-brand servers are equipped with. A customer portal can provide ease of support through automated features.
What are the disadvantages of dedicated servers?
In contrast to the performance and freedom gained over cloud, there are also some disadvantages to dedicated servers. One of them is availability: there is always the possibility of hardware failure and downtime if you choose to run your application on a dedicated server.
Another is flexibility: moving and scaling workloads is easier on cloud, and one of the main reasons people like it. If your application does not scale well to multiple devices, it might be easier to move to a server that has more processing capacity, RAM or storage. This can however be time consuming.
Dedicated servers are not flexible in networking architecture. Unlike with cloud, there is no possibility to deploy a virtual infrastructure in quickly configurable custom networks.
A dedicated server is also generally more expensive than other hosting options. And last but not least, setting up and managing a dedicated server demands extensive infrastructure knowledge and skills, which not everyone has.
Perhaps needless to say, you do not have physical access to a dedicated server. The hosting provider is responsible for maintaining the physical server in the datacenter and will remain owner of the hardware. Customers just own the data stored on the server. This as opposed to colocation, where a customer owns both the data and the server, which is housed in a datacenter owned by a hosting provider.