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What is Hybrid Cloud?

Embracing a Hybrid Cloud Strategy For Dummies

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Hybrid cloud describes the use of both private cloud and public cloud platforms, which can work together on-premises and off-site to provide a flexible mix of cloud computing services. Integrating both platforms can be challenging, but ideally, an effective hybrid cloud extends consistent infrastructure and consistent operations to utilize a single operating model that can manage multiple application types deployed in multiple environments.

A hybrid cloud builds on a foundation of consistent infrastructure to create a single, seamless pool of resources that can be managed to support modern application strategies and digital business initiatives. More companies are turning to hybrid cloud because it makes use cases possible that were previously too costly, too labor intensive, or too risky: cloud migration without refactoring, data center consolidation, as well as seasonal and cyclical capacity utilization.

Why hybrid cloud?

With an effective management platform, hybrid cloud can enable organizations to use the same tools, policies and teams to manage both virtual machine–based and containerized applications across the entire hybrid environment, leading to greater performance, reliability, security and efficiency.

With hybrid cloud, companies have the flexibility to quickly and cost-effectively enhance their existing resources with on-demand cloud resources and maintain control of sensitive data as well as security and compliance policies. 

When set up and managed correctly, a hybrid cloud can allow an organization to:

  • Manage new and old applications. With hybrid cloud, businesses can deploy and manage virtual machine–based applications with containerized cloud-native applications, on the same platform.
  • Migrate and modernize quickly and without refactoring, using familiar tools and processes, while accessing cloud-native services from the target environment.
  • Move applications back on premises after they are deployed without penalty and refactoring cost.
  • Optimize infrastructure by leveraging the instant agility and scale of public cloud providers while using familiar tools and processes.
  • Ensure security and compliance. With hybrid cloud, policies are linked to each application, which ensures consistent adoption wherever workloads are deployed and managed.
  • Offer self-service to developers and line-of-business application owners in on-site and public cloud environments, with the cloud self service delivery they have come to expect.
  • Take full advantage of the cloud. Ideally, hybrid cloud allows a business to improve on-premises cloud capabilities and shift from siloed infrastructure-oriented operations to a service broker capability that delivers the same interaction with IT, regardless of where applications are deployed.

Hybrid Cloud vs. Multi-Cloud

Hybrid cloud describes an environment that includes both public and private clouds, with the goal to enable consistent infrastructure and consistent operations across them. Multi-cloud encompasses more than hybrid cloud and includes the use of multiple public cloud environments built upon diverse and unique infrastructures, in addition to the on-site or hosted private cloud environments included in their infrastructure.

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.

What are the benefits of hybrid cloud?

Most IT organizations are pursuing a hybrid cloud strategy as their long-term approach to cloud. With a single operating model that works for new and existing application types, and the flexibility to migrate workloads and tap cloud capacity on demand, hybrid cloud delivers important benefits, allowing businesses to:

  • Increase flexibility. For organizations with a wide range of application requirements and digital business initiatives, 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 expense, 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.

Overall, hybrid cloud gives IT the ability to address a wide range business and technical needs that are common and changing as organizations pursue digital initiatives. 

What are the biggest challenges of hybrid cloud? 

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 both 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.  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 data center to cloud to optimize operational efficiency and avoid having to train or hire new capabilities. 

What are the hybrid cloud deployment options?

There are many different options possible, but tight integration between private and public clouds that allows a single operating model is critical to any successful hybrid cloud environment.

  • Customer managed: Private cloud solutions can be deployed 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 center 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. 

Related Topics
Hybrid Cloud Management
Hybrid Cloud Security
Hybrid Cloud Networking
Hybrid Cloud Storage
Cloud Migration Strategy
Hybrid Cloud Strategy
Multi Cloud Strategy
Hybrid cloud vs. Multi-cloud
Public Cloud
Private Cloud
Kubernetes Cluster

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