What Is a Hybrid Cloud?

A hybrid cloud refers to a combination of public and private computing environment where both public and private clouds are firmly interlinked as one combined infrastructure. It provides management, orchestration, and application portability between them to create a single flexible cloud infrastructure for running the organisation’s workloads.

A hybrid cloud service is composed of some combinations of private, public, and community cloud services. The combination may go like at least 1 public cloud and at least 1 private cloud, 2 or more public cloud, or 2 or more private cloud.

Hybrid cloud service allows user to extend their capability or capacity of their cloud services by integration, aggregation, or customisation with other cloud services. For instance, an organisation may store their sensitive data or workloads on a private cloud while the less sensitive workloads on a public cloud.

Hybrid clouds are very popular among IT organisation for the use of the public cloud to meet temporary capacity needs that can not be met on the private clouds. A hybrid cloud also follows ‘Cloud Bursting’ model of deployment in which an application running on a private cloud or data center can be burst on the public cloud if demand for computing capacity increases.

Companies like Netflix, Hulu, Uber, and Airbnb rely heavily on hybrid cloud services. Hybrid cloud services have the capacity to transform sectors like healthcare, finance, government, retail and education where data privacy is paramount and privately held computation resources need to be focussed on.

Hybrid cloud use cases

Disaster recovery and business continuity – Hybrid cloud setup where the on-premises data center fails over to a public cloud service in emergency is much affordable because setting up an independent and geo-redundant environment for disaster recovery is costly. Users use a hybrid cloud to promote hassle-free business, bring business continuity, and disaster recovery. An organisation has the flexibility to expand its infrastructural environment if necessary.  For instance, an organisation uses a private cloud for its production environment and a public cloud for its disaster recovery.

Migrating workloads to and from the cloud – For an organisation, workload migration is not a one-day task or could not be done overnight. It needs from days to weeks to months to complete the partial migration of workloads. For organisations with heavy workloads hybrid cloud service is perquisite as it brings flexibility to roll back a change quickly and check the optimal services and resources for workloads by migrating applications to and from clouds.

Regulatory compliance – The hybrid cloud infrastructure enables an organisation to store data and workloads to the most appropriate environments like private cloud and public cloud for sensitive and less sensitive workloads respectively. The process of consolidating data and computing processes from large servers to the cloud infrastructure is one step towards privacy compliance.

“A cloud infrastructure gives you the elastic ability to dynamically change and remodel the business more competitively but still leverage these enterprise-scale, enterprise-quality privacy and protection capabilities for whatever you’re doing with the data.”

—Richard Hogg, global GDPR and privacy evangelist, IBM

Advantages

Control – Users have full control and they can make a private cloud environment for sensitive data and workloads which require low latency and a public cloud environment for less sensitive workloads.

Flexibility – A hybrid cloud enables organisations for remote access of its services and provides data access to their distributed employees who are not tied to one location and also helps to establish a geo-redundant set up at an affordable budget. With hybrid cloud infrastructure, organisations have the ability to respond effectively to the unpredictable demand surge and also scale back down when spike subsides without affecting the functioning of other services.

Ease and agility – A hybrid cloud allows its users to modernise legacy applications and data regularly and migrate them to other cloud infrastructures like the public cloud easily.

High reliability – Hybrid cloud service ensures disaster recovery, failover for workloads distributed across multiple data centers and smoothens the service.

Disadvantages

Elevated Cost – Maintenance of a hybrid cloud on-premise setup can not be economising for smaller organisations.

Infrastructure complexity – Both public and private infrastructure in a hybrid cloud environment must be firmly interconnected for delivering better services and maximum benefits. Managing and setting up a hybrid cloud environment become complex as the number of clouds proliferates especially when sourced from different providers.

The Last Corner

More and more organisations are moving their workloads and computational operations into a hybrid cloud as it brings the high elasticity and scalability required for competitiveness in today’s business environment. It enables enterprises to maintain full control of their sensitive data and application, and it also speeds, simplifies, and reduces the cost of adapting changes in data privacy and protection requirements.

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