A hybrid cloud enables organizations to gain the agility of the public cloud while maintaining security and control.
Public cloud or on-premises data center? That has been the conundrum organizations face as they seek to leverage the flexibility and scalability of the public cloud while addressing security, privacy and performance concerns. The good news is that the cloud is not an “either-or” proposition. Increasingly, organizations are turning to a hybrid cloud model to gain the best of both worlds.
As the name implies, a hybrid cloud uses a combination of public cloud services and on-premises resources to meet the requirements of various workloads. For example, an organization could use on-premises resources for mission-critical applications and sensitive data, while leveraging the public cloud for data backup and archival, disaster recovery, and application development and testing.
The benefits of the hybrid cloud are so compelling that it’s widely viewed as the logical end game for most organizations. The Rightscale 2019 State of the Cloud Report found that 69 percent of organizations are using a hybrid cloud.
The public cloud offers attractive economic and operational benefits by allowing organizations to tap IT infrastructure, applications and services on a pay-per-use basis. This enables even small organizations to gain access to enterprise-class resources, and to roll out new applications rapidly with minimal risk.
However, many organizations are reluctant to place sensitive applications and data in the public cloud. In addition, accessing applications via the Internet brings latency and reliability concerns that make the public cloud unsuitable for many mission-critical workloads. By deploying IT resources either on-premises or in a co-location facility, organizations maintain control over their applications and data and rein in ongoing cloud expenses.
A hybrid cloud solution is the best option in most cases because it provides flexibility and choice. Organizations can keep applications on-prem where needed while relying upon the cloud for nearly limitless capacity without the associated infrastructure and management overhead.
Technically, a hybrid cloud isn’t the same as using public cloud services and on-premises resources simultaneously. In a true hybrid cloud, public and private clouds are integrated, with a single management interface that makes it easy to move applications and services between the two environments. This eliminates the need to overprovision resources to account for spikes in demand — particularly beneficial for organizations that have highly dynamic workloads.
However, few organizations have achieved this advanced use case of the hybrid cloud. For most, a hybrid cloud strategy involves managing users, applications and data across on-premises and cloud platforms to meet business objectives.
Management Is Key
Despite its potential benefits, a hybrid cloud doesn’t always deliver the desired return on investment. In a survey from The Bunker, nearly two-thirds of CIOs and IT decision-makers said their hybrid cloud deployments failed to meet expectations. Primary reasons were a lack of in-house expertise, poor advice, and a lack of integration of cloud and non-cloud resources.
Gaining the advantages of a private cloud requires a strategic approach. Experts at Taneja Group recommend that organizations begin with one or two primary use cases and define their performance, security and availability requirements. Only then can the organization select the appropriate platform for each application and develop best practices for implementation, configuration and ongoing management.
It’s important to note that a hybrid cloud must be managed with as much rigor as traditional data center solutions. Organizations should take care not to allow a “shadow IT” approach to the hybrid cloud, in which users provision cloud resources without IT approval or oversight.
The appeal of the hybrid cloud lies in its ability to provide operational efficiency by allowing organizations to leverage the benefits of public cloud and on-premises resources. But that’s only the beginning. When properly deployed and managed, a hybrid cloud can help transform an organization by enabling IT to focus on strategic business value and innovation.