Hybrid cloud has evolved to becoming a major differentiator in today’s technology landscape. Whilst security was often touted as a major challenge for those businesses considering cloud adoption, the hybrid cloud model has ushered in greater agility and security compared to the other cloud models. Whilst hybrid cloud has emerged as the next step in the evolution of cloud computing, what do we mean when we talk about the hybrid cloud? Is it just a varied number of IT solutions offered up by vendors looking to close more sales in a very competitive environment?
The ‘hybrid’ nature usually refers to the location of the cloud, i.e. on-premise or off-premise, whether it is private or shared to some extent and even what type of services are being offered. So, in effect, a hybrid cloud refers to a mixture of on-premises private cloud resources combined with third-party public cloud resources with an accompanying level of management therein. Many businesses will seek to balance their workload mix across both on-premise and off-premise options to leverage a more efficient use of IT resources in order to meet business objectives. For organisations running diverse applications over different legacy systems, hybrid cloud is best placed to manage their complex IT landscape. Enterprises are looking to boost productivity by hosting critical applications in private clouds and applications attracting fewer security concerns than in public clouds providing environments that are secure, cost effective and scalable.
I see two main reasons for businesses to move to the hybrid cloud. One would be for disaster recovery purposes. You want to run your production or your environment in more than one location using more than one provider; one option that allows you to do that is running a hybrid cloud. Whether it’s active or passive, you can run your environment in two locations – one in the cloud and one on premise. In this way you achieve full redundancy along with a disaster recovery plan. With hybrid cloud, companies can use the public cloud as a place to replicate their data to, whilst keeping their live data in the private cloud. Using hybrid cloud to improve your disaster recovery capabilities really means that you are using cloud disaster recovery, but your live system is in a private cloud. Perhaps one of the key considerations for using hybrid cloud as a disaster recovery solution is that the recovery process is complex at the best of times, and failover planning from your live site to a public cloud requires a lot of planning.
The second reason would be with respect to cost. Whether it’s to move a portion of your setup, (the portion which is more expensive) to the data centre, because sometimes there is a specific service that produces a lot of outgoing traffic which is relatively expensive in the cloud, while it’s almost zero using the data centre; in this case you can split your environment into a hybrid one, running the costly services via the data centre. If you syndicate hardware and software, then virtualisation can reduce your costs significantly. And hybrid cloud provides scalability; once you outgrow a server, with the hybrid cloud you can then upscale with your live system. In a hybrid cloud environment, it is possible to obtain additional efficiencies and further reduce the over-provisioning of IT resources while also maintaining the on-premise option. It is now possible to lower overall IT resource consumption and shift those loads to the lowest cost site. So in low use periods, the lowest cost option would likely be on-premise and in periods of peak loads, it would be a mix of both on-premise and the lowest cost cloud provider.
In the continuing evolution of cloud computing, it is clear that hybrid cloud adoption is only going to increase. Gartner has already predicted that by 2020, the vast majority of businesses will have adopted a hybrid cloud infrastructure. Clearly technology is a massive consideration when you start seeing the incorporation of automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence into cloud platforms along with the way in which environments will be managed and maintained. But is hybrid cloud just about the technology? Sure, technology will be updated and improved but ultimately hybrid cloud is about a mindset. A mindset that is focussed around outcomes that ensure that business is delivering in terms of costs and objectives.