April 05, 2019

What Is a Hybrid Cloud?

By Tobias Geisler Mesevage

If you take a close look at the cloud’s architecture, you’ll quickly see that it is divided into several layers:

  • User applications and services
  • Application development and management tools
  • Cloud infrastructure management services
  • Networking
  • Storage
  • Servers and virtualizations
  • Data centers

This division of layers is what allows an enterprise to have greater control over how they store, manage, and secure business data.

Organizations can opt to store business-critical information on a private cloud or to find cheaper alternatives, like public cloud services, for the data in layers that are less sensitive or less utilized. This idea of cherry-picking protection and management is known as hybrid cloud services.

Below we’ll dive into each type of cloud: public, private, and hybrid to describe best practices for each service.

Public Cloud

Services within a public cloud are rented out by service providers. Tenants only pay for services and resources within the cloud that they actually use. And because public cloud services providers are responsible for managing cloud resources, they are much faster and cost-effective for companies to test new products and help with development environments.

Public clouds usually refer to shared servers and resources, but service providers may also offer dedicated instances or single hardware for one client.

Public cloud space is especially useful for organizations to:

  • Speed up testing and releasing of new products and applications
  • Allow development teams to deploy tools required to their processes, like test and development environments
  • Provide web-based email and CRM options

Some businesses move into the public cloud for human resources and accounting functions. The heaviest hitters in the enterprise public cloud space are currently Amazon AWS, Azure, Google, IBM, and Rackspace.

Private Cloud

With a private, on-premise cloud, the enterprise owns all aspects of the cloud’s infrastructure. And, as the only tenant in a private cloud, an enterprise has full ability to control and customize the space to fit its needs.

For that reason, private clouds are best used to support core business applications, like:

    • Research
    • Manufacturing
    • Supply chain management
    • Big data
    • Mission-critical business functions

A private cloud helps give employees a public cloud experience, but in a controlled way. Private clouds tend to have higher levels of security and service level agreement (SLA) metrics but also come at a much higher cost than public clouds, as organizations are responsible for the hosting, servers, infrastructure, and security.

Hybrid Cloud

A hybrid cloud utilizes both private and public cloud services, combining benefits like the security and control of a private cloud with the cost-effectiveness and computation power of a public cloud.

Hybrid clouds allow businesses to leverage managed service while using existing IT infrastructure to house critical data. This helps businesses meet both privacy and security requirements.

Additionally, most businesses don’t require the same amount of computation power each day. So, cloud bursting is an added benefit of a hybrid cloud. Cloud bursting means an organization only pays for extra compute resources when they are needed. Because hybrid clouds give businesses the option to move between private and public clouds as computing needs and costs change, they can theoretically run an application in a private cloud or data center and move (or ‘burst’) into a public cloud when the demand for computing capacity spikes.

Ultimately, a hybrid cloud offers an enterprise the most flexibility.

The Bottom Line

As a whole, cloud computing is a cheaper and faster resource than storing data on personal computers and promotes productivity and innovation. But with every business’s needs and existing infrastructure capabilities, cloud service needs will vary.

A hybrid cloud can be an excellent option for businesses with a private cloud infrastructure already in place. It can be an effective way to align IT priorities with business needs. However, managing a hybrid cloud is a complex task because each cloud solution has its own API, storage management protocols, networking capabilities.

If you have any confusion, always consult with professionals when determining which type of cloud service is best for your organization.

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