Cloud computing has radically altered the landscape of today’s network environments. Whereas organizations once confined their data and computing operations to private, often onsite data centers, virtualization and the spread of multiple service platforms have made it possible for assets and activities to be located in public clouds that can be accessed from anywhere at any time.
Further, the changes in data usage and data demands from end users and applications, have made demands on businesses and their IT infrastructures that have required solutions that meet varying needs, including those that require the kind of scalability provided by public clouds, but still need the security of a private cloud for critical and sensitive data.
For companies that want to maximize the benefits of both public and private cloud environments, hybrid cloud deployments offer tremendous advantages. Versatile and responsive, hybrid clouds are fast becoming a popular solution for organizations looking to adopt creative solutions for their IT and computing needs.
Within cloud computing, there are several types of deployment that provide for the advantages of this type of infrastructure. There are public, private, community, and hybrid clouds deployments. For the purpose of understanding the definition of hybrid cloud, we’ll be looking at public and private clouds.
Public Clouds are shared cloud spaces that offer massive amounts of space and, therefore, scalability. Due to the nature of the shared space, it’s also typically more affordable and allows organizations to leverage the security and backups provided by the data center housing the server. The costs for this infrastructure and these services are typically spread out among the multiple businesses using the space.
Private clouds exist behind firewalls and isolate the data of a single organization on a single server. This space is not shared by other entities and is typically utilized by businesses that have regulatory compliances regarding their data or exceptionally sensitive or proprietary data that is valuable enough to keep physically and logically isolated from other users.
Hybrid clouds provide a combined solution for businesses working with big data but who still need to adhere to regulatory security compliances. The hybrid setup allows these users to leverage the advantages of both deployments but requires a data center or provider who is adept at, and quite familiar with, these configurations to ensure the security standards and communication between the two servers retains integrity.
What is Hybrid Cloud Storage?
As noted above, the hybrid setup allows organizations to utilize both a public cloud and a private cloud. The key element here is that the two clouds can communicate with one another enabling applications and data to work across both deployments. In many cases, the private cloud server is located on-premise, providing the business or organization with control over the hardware, data, and physically security.
Data and applications that do not require strict controls may then be stored in the public cloud and hosted at a data center where the partnership enables them to utilize the connectivity, security, and other services provided by the data center.
Top 5 Business Benefits of the Hybrid Cloud
Clearly, this particular setup exists out of necessity. While the primary concern, as noted above, is the potential for communication and security issues between public and private servers, those concerns can be alleviated through a partnership with a qualified data center and colocation partner. It's more important, however, to note, that there are several key benefits.
One of the key benefits of implementing a hybrid cloud solution is control. Rather than entrusting all aspects of IT infrastructure to a third-party cloud provider, companies can customize the private end of their hybrid cloud model to their specific needs and adjust them accordingly as they see fit. Since a portion of the networked enabled application remains private, internal IT staff can retain control of critical operations and deal with day-to-day management of servers and other infrastructure.
While public cloud providers are responsive to an extent, some organizations stand to benefit greatly by exerting direct control over their IT assets in a hybrid cloud architecture. Since circumstances and needs tend to change frequently in today’s fast-moving economy, retaining the ability to reconfigure and make other adjustments to the cloud environment that contains most of a company’s vital data assets makes it easier to adapt to those changes with minimal disruption. There’s also less chance of being caught off-guard by changes in a cloud provider’s terms and conditions or a sudden loss of service.
One important byproduct of retaining control over networked enabled applications is speed. Of course, a hybrid cloud environment isn’t inherently faster than a multi-cloud environment or a purely public cloud. It does, however, allow IT staff to optimize the network to minimize latency and make it easier for data to get where it needs to be. Hybrid environments can also take advantage of edge computing architectures to further increase speed and locate crucial services closer to end users.
While public clouds have to spread their resources and be many things for many customers, private clouds can be more purpose built and minimize their resource demands. Whether by offloading non-critical operations to the public cloud or configuring the network to handle only critical traffic, the private portion of a hybrid cloud can be designed to help users work faster and be more productive.
Protecting valuable data is always a challenge in any networked enabled applications, but this is especially true of public clouds. While cloud providers go to great lengths to ensure that customer data is protected, the fact remains that public clouds are fundamentally much more open environments than a private network. This makes them more vulnerable to cyberattacks and various forms of data leakage. For organizations that can’t afford to take risks with customer data or with their own proprietary data and assets, a public cloud simply presents too many risks.
With a hybrid cloud model, however, companies can leverage the security of a private cloud with the power and services of a public cloud. While data stored in a private environment will likely still have to be transmitted to the public cloud for analytics, applications, and other processes, extensive encryption methods can be implemented to ensure this data remains as secure as possible. Since IT staff retains direct control over the structure of a private cloud, they can manage access to that data across an organization and establish strict protocols for how critical assets should be managed.
One of the challenges of a private network is the capital investment required to build, maintain, and expand that network. Before public cloud services gave companies the ability to vastly expand their computing resources without actually investing in physical infrastructure, organizations could only grow their operations as quickly as they could afford to purchase new servers. While there are a lot of advantages to maintaining an in-house network, they also limited a company’s agility, making it difficult to take advantage of opportunities.
With hybrid cloud architectures, however, they can have the best of both worlds. Critical data, assets, and operations can continue to reside in the private cloud, but organizations can now leverage the expansive power of cloud computing to quickly and efficiently increase their operational capacity. Public cloud computing resources make it easier to develop new applications and run powerful analytics programs that would simply be beyond the capacity of a small organization with no more than a few servers at its disposal. With this impediment to growth removed, hybrid clouds offer the opportunity for companies of all sizes to compete with more established competitors faster than ever before.
While implementing a hybrid cloud solution imposes some additional costs beyond establishing a purely private or public environment, in the long run, it can significantly lower IT costs. The scalability of a hybrid cloud makes it an attractive alternative to a purely private cloud, which can be extremely expensive to both update and expand over time.
More importantly, by storing critical data in the private portion of a hybrid network, companies can mitigate the potentially ruinous cost of migrating assets from one cloud provider to another (or worse, having to find a new provider quickly should an existing partner go out of business). Public cloud providers have very specific terms for how data kept in their network is handled. In some cases, customers must pay a termination fee to move their data out of one public cloud and migrate it into another one. Sometimes, the provider isn’t even obligated to return the data in a format that’s usable to the customer, which can create serious obstacles to migration. With a hybrid cloud, critical data is always retained in the private cloud, making it significantly easier to switch from one public provider to another. This can offer significant cost savings over the long run.
5 Instances Where a Hybrid Cloud Deployment May Be Right for Your Business
While there are considerable benefits to utilizing a hybrid cloud infrastructure, it’s really worth investigating if any of the following business concerns or situations exist:
1: Fluctuating vs. Static Workloads and Critical vs. Non-critical Workloads
Public clouds are ideal for handling workloads that are unpredictable such as surges in data/application requests that may be unpredictable. Similarly, non-sensitive data can be handled by a public cloud. However, if your business has static workloads, especially those that may include sensitive data or data subject to security regulations, the private cloud would be ideal.
2: Testing a Cloud Migration
If you’re looking to move to the cloud or to a data center for any number of reasons, but you’re not quite ready to commit or sure how the migration would work, a business could do so incrementally utilizing a hybrid structure. Similarly, this allows you to test for potential future growth. Testing this structure enables you to see how it might meet your current and future needs.
3: Big Data
Your on-premise data center just may not have the capacity to handle the big data or the data analytics you need to make smart business decisions. The public cloud resource allows you to handle as much of this data as you need, is fully scalable, and still affords you the control over data that doesn’t need the scalable capacity.
4: Temporary Capacity Needs
If you’re working on a project that requires collaboration across many users or requires significant data storage that may impede your current network performance or exceed your network capacity, utilizing a public cloud to supplement your private infrastructure is a great option.
5: Differing Business Needs
This is why the hybrid cloud solution exists. If your business has needs that can only be fulfilled by a private cloud and other needs that can only be fulfilled by the benefits of a public cloud, the hybrid solution is for you. It really does, in many ways, provide businesses with the benefits of both solutions.
Hybrid cloud deployments offer many benefits to organizations of all sizes. As they become more widely implemented, companies could well see the advantage to combining the security and control of private networks with the expansive power and versatility of public cloud computing.
While some organizations may benefit more from a multi-cloud environment, many of them will likely seek to incorporate principles of a hybrid cloud architecture into their IT solutions. computing. If you'd like to talk with our team about how this solution might work for you, get in touch today!
About Ernest Sampera
Ernie Sampera is the Chief Marketing Officer at vXchnge. Ernie is responsible for product marketing, external & corporate communications and business development.