The hybrid cloud combines and unifies public cloud, private cloud, and on-premises infrastructure to create a single, flexible, cost-optimal IT infrastructure.
What is a hybrid cloud?
A hybrid cloud is a solution that combines a private cloud with one or more public cloud services, with proprietary software enabling communication between each distinct service. A hybrid cloud strategy provides businesses with greater flexibility by moving workloads between cloud solutions as needs and costs fluctuate.
Hybrid cloud services are powerful because they give businesses greater control over their private data. An organization can store sensitive data on a private cloud or local data center while simultaneously leveraging the robust computational resources of a managed public cloud – and manage it all in a single plane of glass.
How does it work?
Hybrid clouds use public and private clouds as a single combined entity where data and application workloads can move seamlessly between platforms and share data between application workloads. This is achieved by virtualization of data and workloads, network function virtualization (NFV) or VPNs, and connectivity to one or more cloud providers.
There are many hybrid cloud benefits to consider, including:
- Workload migration. Migrate workloads quickly and without refactoring, using familiar tools and processes, while accessing cloud-native services from the new cloud environment.
- Facilitate application modernization. With a hybrid cloud, organizations can create and deploy microservices and container-based applications while continuing to operate the virtual machine-based workloads on the same cloud platform.
- Enhance scalability. Organizations can leverage the instant agility and scale of public cloud providers in near-real-time while using familiar tools and processes.
- Enforce security and compliance mandates. With a hybrid cloud, security policies are linked to each application, which ensures consistent adoption wherever workloads are deployed and managed.
- Reduce IT workload. By offering self-service to developers and line-of-business (LOB) application owners in on-site and public cloud environments, organizations can handle more requests while unburdening IT staff from mundane repetitive tasks related to spinning up new VMs or containers
- Increase flexibility. For organizations with a wide range of application requirements and digital business initiatives, the hybrid cloud provides options for where and when workloads and data are deployed, which speeds up IT response to changing needs.
- Reduce complexity. With a single operating model across environments, IT can simplify operations to optimize the mix of capital and operating expenses, reduce operating and security risk, and improve operating efficiency while avoiding silos and skills gaps.
- Support existing and new applications on a single hybrid platform that works with VM and containerized workloads.
- Increase cloud utility. The hybrid infrastructure allows an organization to improve on-premises cloud capabilities and shift from siloed infrastructure-oriented operations to a service-based model that delivers the same services regardless of where applications are deployed.
Hybrid cloud use cases
A hybrid cloud is a smart solution for several situations. The following use cases show some of the ways hybrid cloud computing can be most effectively utilized.
- Disaster recovery: With hybrid cloud solutions, private and public disaster recovery can be fine-tuned to meet an organization’s unique needs. This creates a simplified solution that reduces local storage space and bandwidth requirements while optimizing the backup process. In the case of locally stored proprietary data, ensuring an efficient and quick recovery. This ultimately achieves continuity while maximizing the efficiency that comes only in a hybrid configuration.
- Workload migration: A hybrid cloud solution can be a temporary configuration that enables migration to a permanent cloud. In some cases, an enterprise cloud migration could take months. Using a hybrid cloud as a means of transition enables a phased transition with simple and safe rollback, all with a level of flexibility built into the process that also minimizes or even eliminates downtime.
- Development lifecycle: Resource needs shift during the development lifecycle. During the test phase, certain resources will be needed that won’t necessarily be called upon during beta or even launch. In a hybrid cloud environment, these resources can scale accordingly based on the needs of each phase. This allows for flexibility across the life cycle without the need to overhaul hardware or configurations.
- Legacy applications: While many tools, applications, and resources can be migrated to the cloud, some simply require the resources of an on-premises environment. Hybrid cloud computing supports these circumstances, with the benefit of allowing an organization to move to the cloud at their own pace.
Are Hybrid Clouds Secure?
When properly protected, hybrid cloud infrastructure is not only safe but can also help boost the entire company’s security profile.
However, when choosing a security solution for a hybrid cloud environment, you need to ensure you can maintain visibility and control over the network, as well as the security options used to protect it. In some industries, compliance and governance are other key factors, particularly in the financial, government, healthcare, and other sectors controlled by legislated regulations.
Is it right for your organization?
The hybrid cloud model is an effective way to align IT priorities with business needs. Many businesses can benefit from leveraging the hybrid cloud over other options. If deciding between hybrid, public, and private options, hybrid provides the most flexibility – an especially important factor for organizations looking to embrace digital transformation or maintain regulatory compliance.
It can also be a great option for businesses with a private cloud infrastructure already in place. Leveraging platform as a service (PaaS) options to interface with the public cloud makes doing so easy. Organizations that want to better secure their data without losing the power of a public cloud can benefit by moving sensitive data to a private cloud while interfacing with public resources.
In addition, a hybrid cloud is highly valuable for organizations with dynamic workloads, large amounts of data to process, or a large mix of IT services. The flexibility, scalability, and responsiveness of the hybrid model cannot be understated. Plus, the ability to only pay for additional resources when necessary can help organizations save on costs considerably.