While business workloads are increasingly being moved to the cloud, certain situations—such as regulatory hurdles, security concerns, reliance on legacy applications, or abnormal data sets or workflows—have been encumbrances to migrating entire organizations to public cloud providers. The solution is the hybrid cloud model, which leverages the advantages of public cloud providers (rapid resource provisioning and usage-based billing), while retaining the speed and reliability of private cloud solutions.
This guide is both an easily digestible introduction to hybrid cloud, as well as a "living" guide that will be updated periodically to keep IT leaders in the loop on new ways in which hybrid cloud can be leveraged.
- What is hybrid cloud? Hybrid cloud is the combination of compute and storage products from public cloud providers and private, on-premises hardware.
- Why does hybrid cloud matter? Hybrid cloud systems do not have a single point of failure, and can be very effectively utilized for industries with variable workloads.
- Who does hybrid cloud affect? Any industry with at minimum a need to safeguard data against loss can utilize a hybrid cloud solution.
- When is hybrid cloud happening? Vendors are becoming more responsive to the complexities of managing hybrid cloud deployments and are offering more solutions and tools to assist in transition and deployment.
- How do I get hybrid cloud? Building a hybrid cloud for your organization requires planning and forethought. Working with vendors to find solutions to your needs is advisable.
SEE: Executive's guide to integrating the hybrid cloud (free ebook) (TechRepublic)
What is hybrid cloud?
Hybrid cloud is the combination of compute or storage products from public cloud services (such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, or Microsoft Azure) with a private cloud infrastructure—servers that are generally on-premises running a cloud software stack. The public and private environments operate effectively independently of each other, and communicate over an encrypted connection, either through the public internet or through a private dedicated link.
The way in which public cloud services and private cloud operations are utilized is essentially dependent on organizational needs and priorities. The extent to which public cloud services are utilized can be as minimal as an offsite backup, or as extensive as being the primary component of data storage and processing. The process of finding an appropriate balance between public and private should take into consideration your organization's IT budget, the strength of internet infrastructure in the areas in which your organization operates, needs for regulatory compliance, and allowances for legacy applications which cannot be easily migrated to the cloud, as well as cloud-based applications which are not possible to run on-premises.
SEE: Ebook—The cloud v. data center decision (TechRepublic)
There is a discrete difference between hybrid cloud and multicloud. Hybrid cloud requires utilization of both public and private cloud components, whereas multicloud is the practice of using cloud services from multiple heterogeneous public cloud services, optionally including private cloud and hybrid clouds with more than one public cloud component.
Deployments explicitly labeled hybrid cloud have declined in recent years as other deployment concepts such as hyperconverged infrastructure have risen in popularity.
- Research: Hybrid cloud - deployment, drivers, strategies and value (Tech Pro Research)
- Amazon Web Services: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft Azure: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- Google Cloud Platform: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- Integrating the Hybrid Cloud (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature)
- What a hybrid cloud is in the 'multi-cloud era,' and why you may already have one (ZDNet)
- Hybrid cloud: Going on-demand and taking the pain out of enterprise integration (ZDNet)
Why does hybrid cloud matter?
In optimal deployments, hybrid cloud provides the best of both worlds of computing. Public cloud service providers offer the ability to instantly provision compute and storage resources on demand, without the extensive upfront costs and time needed to build an on-premise solution. It also enables organizations to leverage AI-powered services delivered exclusively through the cloud, such as Amazon Rekognition, a deep-learning-powered image recognition system, and Amazon Lex, the speech recognition and natural language processing technology that powers the Alexa virtual assistant.
The private cloud component delivers information quickly, and it does not rely on internet connectivity to operate—an important consideration as ISPs consolidate and struggle to provide service. Having a private cloud component provides peace of mind; with an on-premise server, a disruption to internet connectivity will not bring business operations to a complete standstill.
SEE: AWS re:Invent 2018: A guide for tech and business pros (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Cost is a substantial factor for many organizations. For industries with seasonal or variable workloads, assembling a private cloud to handle normal workloads while relying on public cloud providers to handle burst workloads can be a budget-friendly IT strategy.
- Public, private, or hybrid cloud: Making the right call (Tech Pro Research)
- Sun Tzu-as-a-Service: How to protect the hybrid cloud (TechRepublic)
- 10 hybrid cloud risk areas that the enterprise must manage (TechRepublic)
- Cloud security: 10 things you need to know (TechRepublic)
- How to secure hybrid clouds: What IT pros need to know (TechRepublic)
Who does hybrid cloud affect?
Hybrid cloud technology is used in a variety of industries; foremost among these is the financial sector, where proximity to network edges (such as adjacency to a trading floor) is vital. As trade orders and high-frequency trading (HFT) algorithms have sensitivities to the millisecond level, the optimal solution is to put the necessary hardware on-premises for trading, while relying on the public cloud component for analytics and projections. Considering the premium of physical space in urban centers where such businesses reside, leveraging a hybrid cloud model substantively decreases the physical footprint needed for investment firms.
SEE: Infographic: Most companies predict hybrid cloud use in next 5 years (TechRepublic)
Hybrid cloud also has a firm foothold in the healthcare industry, due in part to the decentralized nature of healthcare—the task of relaying patient information between multiple healthcare providers and insurance companies is a singularly challenging endeavor. The attention that must be paid to regulatory compliance is also quite high, as HIPAA (Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) patient privacy provisions require substantive effort in limiting information sharing and compartmentalizing information to prevent unlawful disclosure.
In general, any organization that has an acute need to safeguard against potential loss of sensitive data, resulting from hardware failure, misplaced or stolen hardware, or natural disaster has a reasonable use case for a hybrid cloud deployment.
- Job description: Cloud Engineer (Tech Pro Research)
- Complete IT Cloud Security & Hacking Training (TechRepublic Academy)
- Apple's hybrid cloud plan: Google, AWS, Microsoft Azure like most companies (ZDNet)
- AWS amps up high performance computing with NICE acquisition (TechRepublic)
- Intel aims new Xeon processors, SSDs at building better clouds (ZDNet)
- Google Cloud Nearline Storage warrants reconsidering your backup strategy (TechRepublic)
When is hybrid cloud happening?
More vendors are becoming responsive to the need for hybrid cloud solutions, with public cloud operators like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Rackspace offering software (some through third-party partners) to ease with deployment of a hybrid cloud solution.
Other vendors offer more tailored solutions, such as Fujitsu Hybrid Cloud Services, which combines Fujitsu's private cloud services with Microsoft Azure. The Japanese telecom company NTT offers hybrid cloud solutions focused on compliance with HIPAA, FISMA, and PCI regulations. Hitachi Data Systems offers customized cloud storage and computing offerings, and is a gold member of OpenStack.
- Red Hat earnings suggest hybrid cloud is here to stay (TechRepublic)
- CIO roadmap: What's next for hybrid cloud (Tech Pro Research)
- Report: Hybrid cloud dominates in Europe, adoption driven by security concerns (TechRepublic)
- Video: The hybrid cloud 'condition,' and what Amazon is doing to address it (TechRepublic)
- Cloud computing goes hybrid as the norm: AWS, VMware, Azure duke it out (ZDNet)
- Google's master cloud plan: Buy more infrastructure, charge less for it (TechRepublic)
- Docker survey: 2/3 of companies that evaluate the container tech adopt it (TechRepublic)
- Google Cloud Platform's 3 keys to the roadmap: Data center, security, containers (TechRepublic)
How do I get hybrid cloud?
While migrating to hybrid cloud is not a particularly difficult task, it can be a laborious one. Relative to other areas of technology, the equation is not as straightforward as swiping a credit card, opening a box, and plugging it in. Determining what balance to strike between delegating roles to public and private cloud components is a task that should be given a great deal of forethought before reaching the implementation stage.
Various vendors provide hybrid cloud services with hardware or strategies for the private cloud component of this buildout. Finding a vendor that specializes in your industry area, and that has expertise in compliance with any regulatory frameworks your organization is subject to is an important first step to cloud adoption.
- New IBM app helps you cut cost in hybrid cloud and stay on track for digital transformation (TechRepublic)
- Video: How to design your cloud infrastructure for an IoT deployment (TechRepublic)
- The 15 most important hybrid cloud vendors (ZDNet)
- Most HCI isn't true hybrid cloud, despite what vendors may tell you (TechRepublic)
- Hybrid cloud and open source: Red Hat's recipe for digital transformation (Tech Pro Research)
- Spring cleaning: How I scrapped my servers for a hybrid cloud (ZDNet)
- AWS makes Database Migration Service available to all customers (ZDNet)
- Mini-glossary: Cloud computing terms you should know (TechRepublic)
James Sanders is a technology writer for TechRepublic. He covers future technology, including quantum computing, AI, and 5G, as well as cloud, security, open source, mobility, and the impact of globalization on the industry, with a focus on Asia.