Hybrid cloud computing can offer cost-effective flexibility to businesses in need of better digital infrastructure. Explore what it is and how it works in this guide.
Today, cloud computing is one of the most popular ways for businesses to access critical IT infrastructure and services. Instead of having to build these digital environments and structures solely on-premises, the cIoud makes it easy for companies to rent specific services and platforms from third-party vendors.
In a previous guide, we explored the different kinds of cloud computing and what they can do for businesses. Today, we’ll dive deeper into the advantages, disadvantages, and use cases of one specific type of cloud: the hybrid cloud.
What is hybrid cloud computing?
Unlike strictly public or private cloud computing models, the hybrid cloud combines elements of both to create a unique cloud environment for businesses to make use of. A hybrid cloud could be comprised of a private cloud, an on-premises cloud, and a public cloud — or simply a public and private cloud that work together in conjunction.
A common example might be an organization that has a private cloud along with a public cloud like Microsoft Azure. One of the reasons businesses leverage hybrid cloud structures is because it can offer more flexibility and cost-effectiveness than another type of cloud solution.
Multicloud vs hybrid cloud
Oftentimes multicloud and hybrid cloud deployment models can get confused because of their similarities, but there is a key difference to them.
Hybrid clouds are always made up of two or more different types of cloud environments, e.g., public and private.
Multiclouds, on the other hand, happen when organizations deploy two or more clouds from the same type of source. For example, a multicloud could be made of 3 private clouds working synchronously.
While they often get mixed up, these two kinds of cloud computing are mutually exclusive. While having a hybrid cloud is not inherently better than having a multicloud, many enterprises today are quickly recognizing the benefits of leveraging multiple cloud deployments from a variety of different sources.
Many forward-thinking companies today are leveraging a hybrid cloud setup to meet their needs. Below are some of the most common reasons businesses today choose to go hybrid.
If you’re only relying on your organization’s on-premise IT infrastructure/data processing center, it’s unlikely you’ll have access to all the services and capabilities you need to stay competitive in today’s environment. Utilizing a hybrid cloud strategy can connect you to public cloud vendors who can provide necessary services and platforms that are scalable to your business’s needs.
There are a variety of high costs associated with private clouds. Offloading some workloads into a public cloud can help offset some of that cost and provide more flexibility. Ultimately, you can choose to operate your workflows in whatever cloud environment is most cost-effective.
One of the biggest advantages of hybrid clouds is that they make it easy to switch infrastructures as needed. Depending on what kind of data you’re working with, or what workloads you’re prioritizing, you can either keep them on your private cloud or migrate them to a third-party public cloud vendor.
A big one for companies in highly regulated industries like finance — especially if you’re a company handling highly sensitive data or made to follow certain regulations — is keeping your data safe.
A hybrid cloud can help you get the digital services you need while maintaining the utmost privacy of your internal and customer data. Many organizations in this category keep their sensitive data within their own private cloud while moving operating workloads into public cloud environments.
If the pandemic has taught businesses anything, it’s that resiliency and business continuity should be top priority. Being able to run workflows in both a private and public cloud can be beneficial if there were ever an issue with a particular service.
Before you decide on the hybrid cloud based on its advantages alone, let’s take a look at some of the challenges and disadvantages that the model brings.
Security and authentication issues are some of the most common challenges businesses can run into with hybrid clouds. If teams don’t encrypt traffic or improperly store your data, it can cause major security issues. What’s more, organizations need to be intentional about adopting a set of centralized authentication protocols to be able to access data securely in their private and public cloud environments.
Potential skill gap
We often hear about a growing digital skill gap affecting organizations today. Unfortunately, this skill gap extends to the hybrid cloud as well. Effectively managing a hybrid cloud environment requires specialized IT skills. If teams don’t possess these skills, it can lead to mismanaged infrastructure or potential security threats.
Because on-site and public cloud services aren’t fully compatible and not easily synchronized in some cases, latency issues can occur. Oftentimes, public cloud services are able to respond more quickly than those on a company’s private cloud.
Potential use cases for businesses
Ultimately, every business’s needs are going to be different, and it’s up to you to decide whether or not the benefits outweigh the challenges. Here are a few applicable use cases to consider when weighing the benefits and risks of adopting a hybrid cloud model.
Separation of sensitive information
Operating under a hybrid cloud ensures that you’re always able to separate critical information or workloads into different environments. For example, if you work with a lot of sensitive customer information, you could store that on your own private cloud, while keeping less sensitive data and workflows on a public cloud.
Big data capabilities
Nowadays, many businesses are recognizing the importance of big data processing and analytics in order to provide valuable insights. With a hybrid cloud, you could run analytics on public cloud services, while keeping your most important or sensitive data locked away within your private cloud.
Each of your teams will likely have different needs when it comes to workflow management and platforms. Public cloud services are easily accessible and scalable for many teams’ workflows, while private clouds provide a good environment to host more sensitive workflows.
Back up data
It’s hard to overstate the importance of backing up your data and workloads. By utilizing a hybrid cloud approach, you can ensure much of your data and information is backed up across different cloud environments. That way, if one goes dark, you won’t be left in the dark.