Published 14 Jul 2020

What is Hybrid Cloud?

By, Pulsant

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If you’re reading this article, then you might be tasked with finding out how hybrid cloud fits in with your company’s current architecture. Or perhaps you’re just curious about how this cloud computing approach works.

Either way, here you’ll find lots of useful information about what hybrid cloud is, the advantages are of using it, and what options are available for your business.

Contents section

What is hybrid cloud?

The term ‘hybrid’ is used in everyday vernacular and refers to things that have been combined to make something new. In the case of the cloud, ‘hybrid’ means a mix of different ‘types’ or environments.

In essence, it’s an architecture that connects a company’s on-premises private cloud services to a third-party public cloud. Thereby creating a single infrastructure from which an organisation can choose the optimal cloud for each application or workload.

For example, it could include on-premise private clouds, externally hosted private clouds and public cloud services. It may also be a mix of UK-based hosting services with global hyperscale public cloud services.

Many organisations choose a hybrid cloud architecture to deploy their applications and data across a range of cloud environments. There might be instances where an application can’t be put into a public cloud for commercial or data protection reasons, so it is deployed internally or in a private cloud environment.

How do hybrid clouds work?

There are three main forms of cloud computing: private, public and hybrid. To understand how hybrid cloud solutions work, we first need to look at the differences between public and private clouds.

Public cloud

The public cloud is defined as computing services offered by third-party providers over the public Internet.

In a public cloud model, a company is essentially renting a portion of its distributed data centre infrastructure. The third-party cloud provider delivers compute, network, storage, and application resources while maintaining management rights. Some of the largest service providers include AWS, Google, Microsoft, Alibaba, IBM, and Oracle.

Public clouds deliver cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS). One of the main benefits for businesses is that the provider bears all the operational costs associated with hosting an application or workload. This offers you significant cost savings and takes the burden away from your IT staff.

Private cloud

As you might have guessed, the private cloud involves deploying infrastructure on your premises, as opposed to someone else’s. This is also called an internal or corporate cloud.

The corporate cloud can be offered either over the internet or via a private internal network. In the case of the former, many organisations build private clouds on rented data centres located off-premises to keep costs down.

Housing a private cloud yourself requires you to pay for the upfront expense of maintaining the equipment. You will also need the appropriate in-house IT experts to manage the infrastructure.

One of the main benefits of having a private cloud is that it gives you complete control over the computing environment and data. This may be pertinent to a company dealing with sensitive data or having to abide by strict regulations.

How does hybrid cloud differ to public or private?

Hybrid cloud allows companies to scale computing resources by allowing data and applications to be shared between both public and private clouds.

One reason you might want to do this is to gain the flexibility of the public cloud for basic computer tasks, while keeping sensitive data or intellectual property behind a company firewall via a private network. It also allows businesses to free up resources and make cost savings by delivering less mission-critical applications via the public cloud.

If you’ve already invested a significant amount of money into on-premise hardware, you can still use software as a service (SaaS) public cloud products for functions like customer relationship management or enterprise resource planning.

Hybrid cloud allows users to get the best out of both worlds, depending on the needs of the business, regulations and the data that’s being hosted. It can be used in many ways. It’s a good staging area, a good platform for building confidence in the cloud, developing a transformation programme on and carrying it out.

In the same vein, it may be a deployment model that must be used, either for compliance, regulatory, risk, latency or data sovereignty issues. Regardless, the benefits will depend on your business objectives.

The pros and cons of hybrid cloud

One of the main advantages of hybrid solutions is known as cloud bursting. This means if an organisation reaches maximum resource capacity, the overflow traffic is directed to a public cloud. This seamless transition from the private cloud is particularly useful for businesses that experience variable demand, such as those in the retail sector.

Here are some more advantages of hybrid cloud:

  • Flexible policy-driven deployment to distribute workloads across public and private environments based on security, performance and cost requirements.
  • Scalability of public cloud is achieved without exposing sensitive IT workloads to the inherent security risks.
  • High reliability as the services are distributed across multiple data centres both public and private.
  • Improved security as sensitive IT workloads run on dedicated resources in private clouds while regular workloads are spread across inexpensive public cloud to trade-off for cost investments.

Limitations of hybrid cloud architecture:

  • It can get expensive.
  • Strong compatibility and integration are required between cloud infrastructure spanning different locations and categories. This is a limitation with public cloud deployments, for which organisations lack direct control over the infrastructure.
  • Additional infrastructure complexity is introduced as organisations operate and manage an evolving mix of private and public clouds.

Who is hybrid cloud suitable for?

There are multiple reasons why an organisation may choose to operate a hybrid cloud infrastructure.

It might be that your business has run out of physical space in your data centre. Or you are hosting a consumer website with the application databases placed on a private network. The opportunities for hybrid cloud solutions are gigantic and will depend on your business objectives.

Here are a few examples of situations where it can be useful:

  • Organisations serving multiple verticals facing different IT security, regulatory and performance requirements.
  • Optimising cloud investments without compromising on the value proposition of either public or private cloud technologies.
  • Improving security in an existing cloud environment, such as SaaS offerings that must be delivered via secure private networks.
  • Organisations that are still on their ‘cloud journey’. A hybrid cloud environment enables you to leverage the flexibility, scalability and the potential cost savings of the cloud without having to commit to moving all workloads to the cloud in one go.

Hybrid cloud implementation

How your cloud infrastructure is implemented will partly depend on the size of your organisation and business objectives. But there are a few considerations you should keep in mind, including:

  • Defining the right application and data deployment model.
  • Working in tandem with your enterprise systems.
  • Assessing connectivity requirements.
  • Assessing existing compliance frameworks and highlight gaps.
  • Implementing security and privacy measures.
  • Managing the cloud environment.
  • Creating a backup and data recovery plan.

Our hybrid cloud solutions

As a hosting provider, we can offer you hybrid cloud solutions. We will bring all your different cloud environments together and manage them centrally. This gives you the ability to move data and apps between environments easily.

We will ensure everything ‘speaks to each other’ and that workloads can be moved from one cloud to another.

There are multiple ways of beginning your transition; the first (and perhaps most important) is understanding your organisation’s current state and defining your cloud aspirations. This can be done in several ways, including conducting a cloud readiness assessment, which determines your organisation’s current state and what’s needed to start your journey.

At Pulsant, we assess and baseline our customers against what we call a Cloud Maturity Matrix. The matrix acts as a guide to determine which cloud services are best suited to your business, by looking at how far along the migration journey you are. This includes looking at the various cloud services you’re already using, where you aspire to be, and then helps you plot a path forward, essentially helping you manage the process.

To find out more about our hybrid cloud services, contact our team today and we’ll be happy to find a solution that fits your business.