Over the past few years, no buzzword in IT has been used more frequently than the cloud. For the beginning of its lifespan, the cloud was thought to be something to approach cautiously. There were security concerns, vendor concerns, and even questions about what it actually was.
As time passed, businesses became more comfortable with cloud solutions. They even came to better understand the differences between the public cloud and a private cloud. Then the term “hybrid cloud” was thrown into the mix. Now business leaders found themselves asking, “What is a hybrid cloud?”
Defining Hybrid Cloud
The meaning of the term “hybrid cloud” has been the subject of debate. 451 Research defines a hybrid cloud as "two or more disparate cloud computing environments that are used in conjunction to serve a workload or an application in concert through a single management plane."
You can see why the definition is still in question.
However, if you simplify that definition, it does become easier to understand. Two different cloud computing systems, a private one and a public one, that are used together to address a problem. As we look at some of the reasons why your business should use a hybrid cloud, the answer to “what is a hybrid cloud?” becomes clearer.
1. Hybrid Cloud Solutions Offer Flexibility in Deployment
Each business has different needs. Depending on these needs, hardware, software, and services requirements vary.
With a hybrid cloud solution, our IT department is not locked into one solution or another. There is no need to compromise quality due to these constraints. A hybrid cloud solution offers flexibility to deploy the best-in-class hardware, software, and services according to your business needs.
If you need rapid scalability in services or accounts, a public cloud solution is clearly going to be the best route. However, not all aspects of your IT services will require that. Some will require high levels of customization and compliance regulations. In these cases, a private cloud is the better option.
However, there is never a case where one size fits all for a business.
Hybrid cloud solutions offer you flexibility because they give you the opportunity to choose what is best for your specific needs in any scenario.
2. Hybrid Cloud Solutions Can Decrease Operating Costs
With on-premises, private cloud solutions, you are required to purchase hardware, networking infrastructure, and software licenses for what you need your solution to do. On top of this, you have to lay out costs for staff to maintain and manage the entire solution, provide adequate security, and pay for power consumption to run and cool the system.
Private cloud solutions do not require any of this. Most are a pay-as-you-go model, so you are charged only when accounts are activated or resources are used.
Moving to a hybrid cloud model means that you can save money by moving services that are not required to reside on-premises in a private cloud to a public cloud offering.
3. Hybrid Cloud Improves Compliance
As a business, you may not be permitted to store all of your data in public cloud storage. While reputable cloud vendors do take the necessary steps to secure their solution, this doesn’t mean that they provide you with adequate means to remain in compliance with certain laws and regulations.
Take PCI-DSS compliance, for example. A public cloud used to store or process cardholder data does not make it easy for you to validate compliance.
In order to comply with PCI regulations, you need to prove that you adhere to all of their requirements, and you need to allow a qualified assessor and approved scanning vendor to test the systems. If there is a breach, you need to allow investigators access to your systems in order to see what failed. Not many public cloud vendors are going to allow either.
True, there are cloud vendors that do adhere to these guidelines; however, often you have no other option than to store this data in a private cloud that you manage on-premises.
With a hybrid cloud offering, you can store sensitive and protected data on your private cloud solution and rely on public cloud offerings for less restrictive business processes.
That’s not to say that the public cloud does not help with compliance. True to the hybrid model, there are cases where having someone else who specializes in these tasks configure your servers, accounts, and security will help you achieve compliance better than if you had inexperienced staff handling these tasks.
The Best of Both Worlds
The truth is that a hybrid solution provides you with the best of both worlds when it comes to the cloud. Your on-premises model affords you the oversight required by many different regulatory bodies. Since you are able to conduct tests and allow access to the necessary security professionals, you can ensure your compliance is validated.
On the public side of your hybrid cloud, you achieve the cost savings and scalability that most businesses turn to the cloud for in the first place. Your public cloud model makes it easy for you to handle rapid and seasonal growth and gives you the ability to save money on solutions that make perfect sense to run in the public cloud.
If you are unsure of how to approach a hybrid cloud solution, don’t be afraid to reach out to a trusted partner that can walk you through the process. Finding a managed services provider that has both expertise and experience when it comes to implementing hybrid cloud solutions and working with different vendors can help you recognize benefits you may never have thought existed, while also helping to ensure your rollout is a success.