What is the hybrid cloud and what are its benefits?
Not so long ago, the debate about the virtues of cloud versus data center was pretty straightforward: Did your business want to maximize scalability, flexibility and cost efficiency in computing? While cloud has continued its relentless march to dominance, the new discussion is all about the value and potential of the hybrid cloud. What exactly is the hybrid cloud? It is a unified and orchestrated framework for combining two or more different cloud deployment models, which may include an onsite private cloud, an offsite private cloud and/or a public cloud. It’s clear that a hybrid cloud would ease many of the worries about committing fully to the public cloud (security being the main concern). But a properly established hybrid cloud is more than just the safe middle ground between the public and private cloud, and it involves more than simply lining up different IT environments to run different workloads. A proper hybrid cloud architecture is more than the sum of its parts. It creates a highly orchestrated workspace that seamlessly integrates storage, security, applications, networking and management. With the aid of this unified workspace, IT personnel and developers can take advantage of the speed and agility of the public cloud without losing the tools, systems and policies that exist in the enterprise data center. The hybrid cloud gives enterprise a way of testing the waters before going all-in on the public cloud. But it has immediate benefits, even for businesses that have no plans to make the full move:
- Streamlined functionality. Business today lives or dies on its ability to respond to customer demand, and cloud-dependent methodologies such as DevOps are crucial to meeting that need. At the same time, though, your business probably has established internal systems that would be thrown into chaos with a full move to the cloud. A hybrid cloud gives you the speed and agility of the cloud without disrupting what’s already working for your organization.
- Improved security and privacy. No one questions the ability of the cloud to make business more agile and responsive. But concerns about security, privacy and compliance regulations have combined to dampen the enthusiasm for all-in cloud adoption. Hybrid cloud security can help solve that problem. Hospitals, for example, have found success in keeping patient records and other confidential information on-premise, with less sensitive data hosted in a public cloud. Confidential data can also be cordoned off in a hybrid cloud through a multi-tenant cloud, which offers a cost-effective way of segregating and safeguarding applications and resources.
- The power of cloud bursting. Enterprise workloads fluctuate in size, and keeping internal resources maximized at all times would be expensive and pointless. Cloud bursting lets you push workloads to a public cloud when necessary, and pull them back to the original servers when the demand eases. Of course, cloud bursting is possible in a 100% cloud model, but with complications in terms of administration: Your cloud “rental” bill is separate from your on-premise infrastructure costs, making it more difficult to know when resources are misallocated or over-provisioned. By contrast, a true hybrid cloud is managed from an all-encompassing dashboard that allows for complete oversight and superior cost control. In fact, a 2016 study by IDG found that hybrid cloud implementation reduced IT costs by an average of 24%.
- Reduced latency. The public cloud isn’t always the most practical place to run high-speed applications. With some onsite capacity available, organizations can allocate their computing resources more intelligently. Businesses engaged in real-time analytics or high-volume financial transactions are the types of organizations that should probably keep some of their processing on a private cloud.
- Making disaster recovery easier. Should the unthinkable happen, an organization with access to the cloud will have a faster and less costly recovery than one whose data is kept on-premise. A hybrid cloud allows for ongoing backup, while still giving you control over sensitive data in your data center.