A hybrid cloud infrastructure is a mixture of on-premises IT computing with cloud-based resources, which helps companies achieve their IT goals to facilitate business workflow. By combining the advantages of both private cloud and public cloud, a hybrid cloud offers the best of both worlds.
With hybrid cloud solutions, enterprises can create a more dynamic setup based on their specific business needs. So, it enables them to migrate and manage workloads between public and private cloud environments. Organizations are rapidly adopting hybrid cloud infrastructure because of the benefits it brings, such as reduced cost, scalability, and minimized risks.
Moreover, hybrid cloud adoption will be a natural evolution in the lifecycle of many businesses. As their on-premises infrastructure becomes unable to accommodate incoming data and traffic, they will need to transition systematically to public cloud environments. That is why they will need a Hybrid cloud environment, which enables them to keep using on-premises services while taking advantage of the public cloud features.
How does hybrid cloud work?
The idea of a hybrid cloud architecture is focused on transforming parts of an enterprise’s on-premises data centre into a private cloud infrastructure, which is then connected to a public cloud infrastructure. It allows apps and data to seamlessly flow between the two environments (public and private clouds). This ensures that the company is able to scale faster with greater flexibility and more deployment options.
For example, an organization might use the public cloud for high-volume, lower-security needs, such as web-based email, and the private cloud (or other on-premises infrastructure) for sensitive, business-critical operations like financial reporting.
A high level of interoperability and orchestration between the public and private environments needs to be present for a hybrid cloud to work effectively. This can be achieved through LAN, WAN, VPN, and cloud management platforms that are responsible for a unified infrastructure and allows admins to manage, govern, and orchestrate across both environments.
Like other cloud computing infrastructures, hybrid cloud platforms use containerization, virtualization, and storage technologies to aggregate resources. These resources can then be allocated and shared among different environments using dedicated management software.
Advantages of hybrid cloud infrastructure
Private and public cloud infrastructures come with their own drawbacks. That is why hybrid cloud architectures come in to mitigate these cons and provide the best of both environments. Let’s look at the benefits of a hybrid cloud infrastructure:
Effective app governance
With a hybrid cloud approach, you have the option to choose where your apps are located and where the hybrid computing occurs. It ensures greater levels of privacy and compliance, especially for regulated apps.
Improved performance and reduced latency
A hybrid cloud model allows organizations to place workloads where they perform best. Less sensitive, high-performance applications can be placed in the public cloud, while sensitive, mission-critical applications can remain protected in the private cloud.
By adopting a public cloud infrastructure to your already existing private cloud architecture, it becomes possible to expand your cloud computing capacity without increasing data centre expenses.
With hybrid cloud computing, businesses have the flexibility to operate in the environment best suited for a particular need. So, any company that needs an off-site backup of business data can simply use a public cloud service and eliminate the need for multiple sites.
In the event of a disaster, having your data stored on a hybrid cloud ensures that it is backed up and protected in a secure and safe location. This helps to ensure business continuity even under adverse conditions.
With a hybrid approach, resources can be used more effectively. Public cloud resources can be used to meet fluctuating and extra capacity needs, while private cloud resources can be scaled back when demand decreases.
Improved regulatory compliance and security
While public clouds have improved their security considerably, private clouds still offer a higher level of security. Hybrid clouds allow you to keep your most sensitive data in a private cloud.
Hybrid cloud drawbacks
We have seen some of the key benefits of adopting a hybrid cloud infrastructure. Now, lets us check out some limitations businesses may encounter while working with it:
Since hybrid cloud infrastructure is a combination of private and public cloud architectures, it has inherent advantages as well as disadvantages of both worlds.
Similar to a public cloud, businesses don’t have much control over the cloud infrastructure since it is owned by a third party. Furthermore, combining private and public clouds brings about more infrastructure complexity. This means that it will take more time and trained personnel to maintain and manage these two different types of cloud as the organization’s business needs change.
The lack of control over the public cloud infrastructure makes protecting sensitive data and adherence to regulations challenging. So, you will be relying on cloud service providers to protect data and adhere to regulations. However, your company is still liable for any security breach, even though it is the cloud service provider’s job to make sure it does not occur.
Hybrid cloud use cases
A hybrid cloud infrastructure is suitable for companies who want the scalability and flexibility advantages of a public cloud and the security benefits of an on-premises approach. Here are some use-case examples:
Maintain regulatory compliance
Operating in industries such as healthcare and finance can be very challenging, especially due to the strict regulatory requirements. However, using a hybrid cloud can help you adhere to these requirements. For example, some healthcare apps are required to run only on private clouds for security reasons. With a hybrid cloud, that is possible while also using a public cloud for other processes.
Migration between clouds
Using a hybrid cloud infrastructure, businesses can easily migrate between cloud vendors. They are not tied to any specific vendor and can easily transition if others provide better solutions that address the company’s emerging needs.
Adapt to dynamic workloads
Public clouds are scalable and are great for dynamic workloads. Also, it is preferable to use an on-premises data centre for less volatile or more sensitive workloads. So, the only way to achieve both these two functions simultaneously is through a hybrid cloud infrastructure.
Companies using a hybrid cloud approach can use the public cloud as a site to back up their critical on-premises data without investing in additional infrastructure. Additionally, this data can be instantaneously retrieved in case of disaster. This helps for seamless business continuity.
How to implement hybrid cloud infrastructure?
Implementing a hybrid cloud infrastructure is not as complicated as many people think. However, for it to be effective, your hybrid cloud strategy has to be defined around your business requirements. Here are the main steps to take:
- Identify business requirements: Decide the workloads that will run in the public cloud infrastructure and the ones to be transferred to the private cloud. The workload environment has a crucial role to play in the success of your hybrid cloud strategy. Putting a workload in the right environment can make it more effective and efficient, while the wrong one can complicate your deployment.
- Select the right providers and technologies: Choosing the cloud provider is the next logical step after identifying your business requirements. Make sure the provider has options that will take care of your business’s immediate and future needs. Also, you need to identify the common network topologies and technologies that will allow you to connect your environments in a secure and reliable manner.
- Implement security and compliance measures: Security and compliance issues are among the top challenges enterprises encounter while deploying in a public cloud. Since hybrid environments are made up of both private and public cloud infrastructure, ensure that data is protected when stored and when it is transported between both environments. Additionally, always check for compliance with any relevant regulations.
- Establish governance and management systems: Your admins should put systems in place that effectively manage the hybrid cloud environment. It will be quite helpful for performance monitoring, cost management, and ensuring interoperability of apps and data across the public and private clouds.
In this era where business continuity and the ability to scale are crucial for success, adopting a hybrid cloud strategy is the best option. It provides the advantages of both worlds, especially flexibility, scalability, security, and cost saving in many areas. However, as much as it inherits these benefits, hybrid cloud infrastructure is not perfect. So, before implementing this architecture, ensure it fits your business requirements.
This material has been prepared in collaboration with Asah Syxtus Mbuo, Technical Writer at StarWind.