Several things make bare-metal cloud providers appealing compared with traditional cloud providers, which operate in a virtualized environment. Bare-metal providers give users\u00a0more control, more access to hardware, more performance, and the ability to pick their own operating environment.\nThere's another interesting angle, as articulated by\u00a0Martin Blythe, a research fellow with Gartner.\u00a0He maintains that bare-metal providers appeal to small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) because those companies are often small, local players, and SMBs looking for something more economical than hosting their own data center often want to keep the data center nearby.\n\n\u201cIf you don\u2019t want to maintain a data center in your downtown office block and don\u2019t want to build something, these guys can provide it for you. You simply manage them remotely, and if you want to inspect the site, it is close to your headquarters,\u201d Blythe said.\nWhy companies want their bare-metal provider to be nearby\nNot surprisingly, there is a preference for firms to have their provider in the same state. In Europe, it\u2019s even more important for several reasons. First, you have a lot of European companies throwing up borders around the internet in light of the NSA spying fallout from a few years back, particularly Germany. Microsoft responded by building data centers in Germany that would be for only German\u00a0companies and government agencies.\nThen there\u2019s just good old provincialism, where a lot of French companies want French-speaking providers.\n\u201cIt\u2019s convenient having the company under the same umbrella as the host. And you own the stuff. You don\u2019t have to worry about it going outside of your borders,\u201d Blythe said.\nThis is not something you\u2019d go to Amazon to do because even with that company's numerous data centers, they don\u2019t have the advantage of locality. Amazon does best where they offer virtual environments to large firms.\nThe challenge for market researchers such as Gartner is that these are medium-sized companies, and while they are growing, many are private, so it\u2019s difficult to spot them and thus measure the market.\n\u201cThey don\u2019t really report anything we would find. We do talk to them but we can\u2019t really scale them,\u201d Blythe said.\nBranded equipment also a selling point\nThere\u2019s another interesting element to these local bare-metal hosts. Instead of using non-brand name equipment like Amazon and Google have done, they typically use branded equipment from Dell or HPE.\n\u201cTheir customers are coming from using on-premises equipment, and they want to know they are running on brand-name servers,\u201d Blythe said.