The benefits of a pure public cloud approach have been touted for quite some time. The prevalence of public cloud use is the product of potential cost savings, flexibility, ease of management and scalability. Yet public clouds hardly deliver these advantages in every situation – It’s far from a one-size-fits-all solution. As IT leaders have realized the limitations of public-only models, another IT strategy is trending upward: the hybrid cloud model.This increasingly popular cloud model affords a greater spectrum of potential solutions to deliver on the many advantages associated with public environments. With far more control, you can often make greater strides in security, scalability, uptime and cost efficiency while easily transferring and sharing data.
A hybrid cloud is one that combines a private cloud platform or IT infrastructure with one or more public clouds – from providers such as Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud Platform. Unlike multi-cloud models that simply leverage two distinct cloud environments – typically describing the use of multiple public cloud providers – hybrid cloud models always involve a public and private cloud working together.
The public cloud and private infrastructure operate independently of each other, but communicate over an encrypted connection and leverage technology that allows you to transport data and applications from one environment to another. The data in both clouds flow between each other as needed to meet your specific objectives.
In 2016, a 451 Research study reported that 20% of cloud users had already moved one or more workloads from a public cloud to a private cloud environment. Companies that were planning to repatriate workloads within two years expected to move 40% of their public workloads to private clouds.
Many of these organizations learned that not all applications run best in public cloud environments. With reduced control using a public provider, they risked greater latency. But many business-critical applications and cutting-edge industries put great emphasis on minimizing latency.
The hybrid cloud model offers the ability to leverage colocation and edge computing services to place data closer to your customers and users, increasing the bandwidth of your network and speed of data delivery. Multiple environments also minimizes the potential for downtime and outages, providing key redundancies and additional backup opportunities for storing data.
IT decision makers have greater control over both their private and public environments when using a hybrid model. It gives you the ability to configure your network to best suit your unique needs, which is especially important for security. While simply using a second public vendor will reduce security risk, using a private cloud environment allows you to develop a custom security program to your exact requirements.
While some leaders have feared the complexity and time commitment to rearranging their networks and storage, many businesses have successfully leveraged their existing infrastructure while upgrading. The move and integration is often much easier than anticipated.
However, determining which applications and datasets can be distributed across multiple platforms is a laborious task. It takes careful consideration and planning to determine how your public and private clouds will coexist. You need to take special care to protect against data fragmentation as your system scales within the new model.
While the upfront costs of adopting a hybrid cloud model will be greater than a public-only environment, the long-term cost savings of a hybrid cloud strategy can be substantial.
Before choosing and implementing any cloud strategy, you must define your needs, recognize your limitations and strategize for your specific systems. Audit your current computing environments and outline what your organization needs to achieve long-term success. This process will help you determine what steps you’ll have to take to seamlessly integrate your environments.
Throughout your planning, you may consider several strategies and providers. In order to optimize your solution, you need to conduct due diligence on your potential providers. Not all providers will offer the same quality of services. Clearly outline your needs, learn management’s expectations and set your budget to properly assess whether any given provider can meet your requirements.
You’ll also have to work to determine how your data will be managed and monitored. Some of the most important points to discuss with your provider are:
Lastly, be sure to dig deep in to the cost structure of any potential public or private cloud partner. Your monthly costs will be easy to determine up front, but what will it cost to migrate your data and integrate your environments? In the event of a system failure or unexpected downtime, how can you recover your costs?
Clearly, a hybrid cloud model can present complexities that you have to care for intelligently. But its benefits can be substantial, especially in the long term. If you work with strategic partners and invest in your diligence and planning, you can set your business up for greater performance and efficiency today and in the future.
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