Hybrid Cloud refers to a cloud computing model that uses a combination of at least one private cloud and at least one public cloud, which works together to provide a flexible mix of cloud computing services. Hybrid cloud computing extends infrastructure and operations consistently to provide a single operating model that manages application workloads across both environments, allowing for seamless migration of workloads from private to or from public cloud as business needs dictate.
Hybrid cloud solutions offer a single, seamless pool of resources that support modern application strategies and an organization’s digital transformation efforts. Most organizations have adopted hybrid cloud infrastructure to reduce risk, minimize overall IT and cloud costs, support cloud migration without refactoring, data center consolidation, and meet seasonal peaks in demand for compute and storage resources.
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 hybrid cloud, organizations can create and deploy microservices and container-based applications while continuing to operate 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 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. 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 architecture is a melding of public and private cloud resources combined with tools that enable common management and orchestration. This enables workloads and data to move easily between the two environments based on the business demands of the organization and enabling functions such as cloudbursting, where workloads normally hosted on-premises or in a private cloud are augmented by public cloud infrastructure to meet spikes in demand.
Hybrid cloud platforms are centered around hybrid cloud management tools, which ensure that both public and private cloud elements are working in sync to achieve the desired business goals.
Some popular hybrid orchestration models include:
- Customer managed: Private cloud solutions can be deployed in on-premises and edge environments, often as hyperconverged infrastructure. Increasingly, key portions of these solutions are available as SaaS offerings.
- Vendor managed: Vendors can deploy and manage hybrid solutions in data centers and edge environments, as a fully hosted hardware and software solution.
- Partner managed: Hybrid cloud solutions are offered by a wide range of cloud and hosted infrastructure providers who offer consistent infrastructure and operations compatible with on-site private cloud solutions.
- Cloud provider-managed: Hyperscale cloud providers offer a standard cloud service portfolio, as well as solutions based on a foundation of consistent infrastructure and operations that are compatible with private cloud solutions.
A hybrid cloud includes both public and private cloud elements, with the goal to enable consistent infrastructure and consistent operations across them. A multi-cloud is a cloud environment that includes more than one public cloud provider, regardless of whether it is hybrid or not. Thus cloud architecture can be hybrid without being multi-cloud, multi-cloud without being hybrid, or both hybrid and multi-cloud.
IT organizations may use hybrid cloud as a subset of a multi-cloud strategy that includes dissimilar environments. With multi-cloud, IT organizations may need additional management tools and processes beyond a hybrid cloud management foundation to ensure consistent multi-cloud operations. Effective multi-cloud management helps ensure visibility and control, including cost, security and compliance, across any combination of hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
The challenge for organizations pursuing hybrid cloud is to find an operating model that simplifies operations, reduces management complexity, allows interoperability to enhance flexibility, and also addresses the requirements of a wide range of application architectures and digital business objectives.
A hybrid cloud solution works best when a single set of management tools, skills, and workflows can extend seamlessly across consistent infrastructure that is common to on-site, public cloud, and hosted environments.
A single operating model addresses the challenges related to:
- Migration without refactoring: If applications are migrated from dissimilar environments, then applications need time-consuming and costly refactoring during migration. The consistent infrastructure allows fast, low-cost migration to the cloud—and easy migration back on-site if needs change.
- VM and container workloads: IT organizations increasingly must support containerized cloud-native application architectures in addition to existing virtual machines. A hybrid cloud management foundation should enable integrated management of both existing and new applications.
- Making security and policies consistent: Many security policies are tied to the underlying infrastructure. With hybrid cloud, it is important to be able to tie security and compliance policies to the workload, so policies can be enforced consistently wherever workloads are deployed.
- Siloed tools and processes: If different tools and processes are used to manage applications and underlying infrastructure in various unique environments, then new functional silos and specialized skills can keep organizations from achieving their cloud goals. A hybrid cloud should extend existing IT tools and processes from the data center to cloud to optimize operational efficiency and avoid having to train or hire new capabilities.