Cloud providers in the market may make some assumptions about all resources in the cloud being virtualized and shared. With IBM SoftLayer, I can say virtualization is a choice, as it has a flexible set of options and resources that can be shared, dedicated or mixed. The client has the ultimate decision.
SoftLayer offers two flavors of servers. Which one should you choose?

Bare metal (dedicated servers)
A bare metal server is all about raw hardware. It is a single-tenant physical server that is completely dedicated to a single customer. You can choose it when you have data-intensive workloads that prioritize performance and reliability. Additionally, you may have graphics processing units (GPUs) working in conjunction with your server’s CPU for high performance computing. You may also have your own virtualized environment by contracting an unmanaged hypervisor. Monthly billing is applied for this option.

Virtual servers
Virtual servers are an option when you prioritize flexibility and scalability in your environment. They are commonly used for new applications built on cloud with unknown compute needs.