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What is a Hybrid Cloud?

Hybrid cloud describes the use of both private and public cloud platforms, working in conjunction. It can refer to any combination of cloud solutions that work together on-premises and off-site to provide cloud computing services to a company. A hybrid cloud environment allows organizations to benefit from the advantages of both types of cloud platforms, and choose which cloud to use based on specific data needs. 

Cloud service providers may provide both public and private cloud options in a hybrid cloud offering, and the private cloud may be hosted on or off premises. Or, an organization might host its own private cloud on site, and also use off-site public cloud services for different data requirements or during spikes in demand. There are many different options possible, but tight integration between the private and public clouds is always critical to any successful hybrid cloud environment.

Why Hybrid Cloud?

Companies use hybrid cloud to quickly and cost-effectively enhance their existing resources. They can keep sensitive data secure within a private cloud and also quickly add more computing, network bandwidth, or storage in a third-party public cloud to address temporary surges in demand.

Hybrid cloud can also refer to a single solution that incorporates multiple cloud platforms. In this case, there is a single management system to access and operate all of the cloud computing elements. While hybrid cloud describes the use of public cloud service or services in conjunction with an on-premises private cloud, multi-cloud refers to the use of multiple public cloud service providers. A hybrid cloud environment leverages both the private and public clouds to operate. A multi-cloud environment includes two or more public cloud vendors which provide cloud-based services to a business that may or may not have a private cloud. A hybrid cloud environment might also be a multi-cloud environment.

What is hybrid cloud infrastructure? 

The infrastructure that supports hybrid cloud typically includes a network, servers, and virtualization software. The servers host the data and display it remotely via the network. The virtualization software allows virtual resources, like desktops, to be displayed remotely. Because a hybrid cloud implies a combination of both in-house and third-party resources, these back-end components sit in two locations—on premises in the enterprise data center and with the third-party public cloud service provider. Because the cloud service provider supports multiple tenants with varying demands, they use powerful, high-density systems to host their cloud computing services. Virtualization software allows cloud service providers to host multiple operating systems on one server, maximizing their resources.

Benefits of hybrid cloud

  • Flexibility: Businesses that regularly experience spikes in demand might implement a hybrid cloud solution so that they can use a private cloud to run most of the workloads and access the public cloud only when usage spikes. 
  • Structure and separation: Hybrid cloud also offers an alternative for storing sensitive data—a company might provide services via a public cloud while keeping sensitive information safe on a private cloud.

While a private cloud is less expensive than using a public cloud (after an initial investment in the infrastructure), it does not easily scale. Growing the infrastructure requires the purchase of additional equipment. If usage of the private cloud shrinks, that expensive equipment sits unused.

What is hybrid cloud storage architecture?

A hybrid cloud storage architecture allows IT managers to choose from a variety of locations to store different kinds of data that have different requirements for access. An organization might use slower performing but less expensive storage for data that does not need to be immediately available, and reserve the expensive, high performing storage for application data that users frequently interact with. 

Hybrid cloud easily supports such a tiered storage architecture. In a hybrid cloud storage architecture, the primary storage system, which hosts the files and data for applications that users access most frequently, lives in the private cloud, closest to the users, where it can perform the best. This tier is what most users will interact with on a daily basis.

A second, lower performing storage tier lives in the public cloud—this layer typically acts as a back-up for that primary tier. It can also be used to store data that is infrequently accessed, but not so infrequently that it can be archived.

The third storage tier with the highest latency also lives in the public cloud, preferably with the least expensive storage subscription plan. Organizations might use this third tier as an extra-back-up for tier one data, or for long-term storage of archived data that users rarely access. 

What are the biggest challenges of hybrid cloud adoption? 

While there are clear advantages to adopting a hybrid cloud solution, implementing a hybrid cloud is not without its challenges. A hybrid cloud solution works best when workloads can seamlessly move back and forth between the private cloud and the public cloud. This coordination is essential, but not always easy to set up or manage, especially when working with a third-party public cloud services provider.

Because servers in the public cloud share data from multiple companies, security is a top concern when using public cloud computing services. Encrypting data is a good way to ensure stronger security, but not all encryption platforms work with both public and private clouds. Choosing a vendor that offers public cloud computing services that are compatible with both your private cloud set-up and your security measures requires careful consideration.

Public cloud vendors not only offer a diverse range of services—but their pricing structures can also vary quite a bit. Careful planning can help to keep costs down on monthly cloud services bills, but organizations with unpredictable public cloud usage may find it hard to avoid spending a lot of money on public cloud services when usage suddenly surges. 

Lastly, because using a hybrid cloud is more complex than using either a public or private cloud alone, organizations must carefully plan how a hybrid cloud will scale when more or fewer resources are required. 

Related Topics
Hybrid Cloud Management
Public Cloud
Private Cloud
Enterprise Cloud Suite

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