Hybrid Cloud: What Is It & How Does It Work?
Updated: Jun 22
First, there was "the cloud," and now businesses are talking about the hybrid cloud and all the benefits it brings. You may be wondering why the hybrid cloud is becoming so popular and if it really can benefit your business.
The statistics tell the story of how popular hybrid cloud has become, with 87% of the businesses who have switched to the cloud choosing a hybrid model. Industries that have adopted cloud include insurance (73%), logistics and retail (65%), utilities (62%), and software and technology (59%). It's hard to argue with the numbers. The shift to hybrid cloud is well underway.
It's time to dig into exactly what the hybrid cloud is.
What Is the Hybrid Cloud?
The hybrid cloud is not a different type of cloud but rather, as the name implies, a mix of public and private clouds. In order to coordinate between these two cloud platforms, there is an orchestration layer that helps data and applications easily move the cloud platform that makes the most sense.
The benefits of this model are significant. Businesses get the best of both cloud worlds. They get the cost savings and the extra capacity of multiple public clouds when they need it and a private cloud's control and compliance benefits. These features give businesses the flexibility they need to operate nimbly in fast-moving markets.
How Does the Hybrid Cloud Work?
Private and public clouds function as part of a hybrid cloud in much the same way as they do it as separate clouds:
Local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), virtual private networks (VPN), and application programming interfaces (APIs) connect multiple computers.
Virtualization, containers, or defined storage software extract resources and group them into data lakes.
Management software system distributes those resources to environments where applications can run and be allocated as needed with an authentication service.
An independent cloud becomes a hybrid cloud the two environments are seamlessly connected. That interconnectivity allows hybrid clouds to work and is why hybrid clouds form the foundation of edge computing. This interconnectivity also determines how workloads are moved, unifies management, and organizes processes. The networks directly impact how your hybrid cloud works.
Hybrid Cloud vs. Multi-Cloud
Since hybrid cloud and multi-cloud both refer to cloud deployments that use more than one cloud, it can be challenging to understand their differences. Hybrid cloud infrastructure includes two or more different clouds, while multi-could infrastructures include many clouds of the same type.
A hybrid cloud is a blend of one or more private clouds or onsite data centers. Multi-cloud is a mix of at least two and often more similar clouds. In a hybrid cloud system, different components work in sync to form a complete IT solution. With multi-cloud, different clouds manage different tasks.
What Is a Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure
Hybrid cloud infrastructure is a combination of onsite data centers, private clouds, and public clouds. They have the following characteristics:
Onsite data center, private and public cloud resources
Workloads tied together under common data management while remaining distinct
Ability to connect existing systems running on traditional architectures to run critical business applications with sensitive data that might not be suitable for public clouds
The hybrid cloud infrastructure uses a data fabric, a set of data services that provide consistent capabilities across a combination of IT resources.
Is a Hybrid Cloud Right for Your Organization?
Not everything should be on a public cloud. For this reason, many companies choose the hybrid cloud, which gives businesses the benefits of private and public clouds and lets them take advantage of a data center's existing architecture.
The hybrid cloud lets applications and components interoperate across boundaries as well as between cloud instances and architectures. Whenever handling datasets or workloads in the dynamic digital world, businesses should be able to move things around in response to changing needs. The places where applications or data are stored today might not be the ideal place for them to live in the future. A hybrid cloud strategy might be right for your business if:
Frequently changing or dynamic workloads: An easily scalable public cloud can handle dynamic workloads, while a private cloud or on-premises data center can handle less volatile and more sensitive workloads.
Separates critical workloads and less-sensitive workloads: Sensitive financial or customer information can be stored on a private cloud, and the rest of the business's applications can be run on a public cloud.
Big data processing: Run big data analytics with highly scalable public cloud resources while keeping sensitive data safe behind a firewall using a private cloud.
Incremental shift to the cloud: Put some workloads on a public cloud or a small-scale private cloud to see what works for the business and expand its cloud presence as required using private, public, or a mixture of the two clouds.
Temporary processing capacity: A hybrid cloud allows businesses to use public cloud resources for short-term projects at a lower cost than their data center's IT infrastructure, so they don't overinvest in equipment they will only use temporarily.
Future flexibility: Meeting today's needs is only one part of business. The other is meeting future needs. A hybrid cloud strategy lets companies match their actual data management requirements to the private cloud, public cloud, or on-premises resources that can handle them best.
Best of both worlds. Unless a business's needs are fulfilled by an exclusively private cloud solution or only a public cloud solution, why should businesses limit their options? With a hybrid cloud strategy, companies can take advantage of both clouds simultaneously.
Why the Hybrid Cloud Is Important to a Business
"Adapt or die," as the saying goes, and this applies doubly to businesses. If a business doesn't evolve, it risks becoming obsolete. It's no surprise that forward-thinking businesses are shifting to the hybrid cloud. There are five main benefits of hybrid cloud solutions that make it important to a business:
A business can lower its costs by drawing on public cloud resources when excess demand temporarily stresses capacity or for general-purpose workloads the business doesn't want to manage in-house. The company can use its finite private cloud resources for critical workloads and data.
One significant concern businesses have with a public cloud is data security. Certain applications need a level of security compliance or contain sensitive data and may not be secure or meet compliance standards on a public cloud. With the hybrid cloud, critical applications and data can be based in the private cloud, while the business can use the public cloud to store and share non-critical information.
Using only a private cloud can be limiting for a business. The security it offers means that employees can't access business functions through unknown devices, making it difficult to work remotely. This can stifle a business's productivity and hinder the flexibility a business needs. In a hybrid environment, a public cloud can be used for employees to access data from anywhere, and the private cloud can host critical security-compliant applications.
The hybrid cloud enables businesses to successfully and predictably integrate data from various sources. It is architected to blend internal and external services that meet the requirements of customers and partners. When the barriers between application and data silos dissolve, businesses have the flexibility and freedom to quickly overcome challenges and seize opportunities.