Hybrid cloud is a mix of two types of infrastructure-as-a-service cloud models: public cloud and private cloud.
It enables the best of both worlds: A business can run part of its IT operations in a private cloud environment that it hosts itself for its own exclusive use. It can then run other parts of the environment in public cloud infrastructure, which is shared but lower cost.
What are the advantages of hybrid cloud?
Hybrid cloud is gaining in popularity because it enables businesses to move to the cloud without making unnecessary trade-offs in security.
Businesses can ‘mix and match’ where they host IT for maximum business benefit.
Hybrid cloud can increase a business’s general comfort with moving from a traditional IT environment into the cloud world.
Businesses may be reticent to move all mission-critical applications and data into the public cloud – onto infrastructure it does not own or control. There may also be security, privacy, regulatory or compliance reasons why some systems and data need to be stored on-site rather than in the public cloud.
Hybrid cloud offers these businesses a way to satisfy requirements or concerns by keeping sensitive systems in-house on their own private cloud, while giving them an option to put less sensitive workloads – such as their website – into the public cloud.
This could be particularly beneficial to conservative companies that want a low-risk way to begin moving into a cloud computing world.
Hybrid cloud can also be used to increase the pace of innovation internally. Developers and business units can quickly spin up a test environment in the public cloud to prove or disprove an idea, and then tear it down. If it passes the test, a decision can then be taken on where it is best hosted.
Can hybrid cloud help with disaster recovery?
Yes. Traditionally, businesses have run data centres in a primary-secondary configuration, where the secondary facility was hardly used. In recent years, some businesses chose to run their facilities in an active-active configuration to make better use of the capacity they had on their books.
One of the early uses for hybrid cloud is to replace the secondary/back-up site entirely with a cloud-based version instead. This is one of the simplest use cases for hybrid cloud.
What are some common challenges associated with hybrid cloud?
Some challenges with running a hybrid cloud environment may include:
- Network connectivity: As workloads may be split between public and private resources, the network that links these resources has to have sufficient bandwidth to perform seamlessly. Depending on where the public cloud provider’s servers are physically located, users may notice some latency when calling upon data or applications, but this can be minimised through techniques such as load balancing.
- Integration: The essence of a hybrid cloud is being able to split workloads between public and private compute resources. These will need to be able to ‘talk’ to each other, exchange data and be manageable in an integrated fashion.
- Monitoring and management: This may not just be a systems challenge but also a skills one. Organisations wanting to operate a hybrid cloud environment will need to be able to recruit or train people to administer the environment appropriately.
How is hybrid cloud charged?
Typically, a hybrid cloud involves deploying a base level of IT infrastructure internally (which becomes the private cloud environment), and then using public cloud services to manage spikes.
Private cloud costs are in line with traditional IT infrastructure deployment: you need a data centre or rack space to house equipment; more equipment (or software) for back-up, redundancy and resiliency; and software to present the infrastructure as a cloud-like service. This software may be proprietary or open source.
The public cloud portion is typically charged per hour or month, or per unit of usage (such as per Gigabyte for cloud storage).
How can I manage my hybrid cloud environment?
There are a number of different software applications available for cloud management and orchestration. They are designed to manage multi-cloud environments, whether those clouds be public, private or hybrid.
Orchestration is about automating as many of the processes involved with provisioning infrastructure as possible. It can help to simplify the management of a hybrid or multi-cloud environment by requiring less hands-on intervention by IT to make it function.
Is hybrid cloud more secure than public cloud?
Not necessarily. Hybrid cloud does afford users an option to “ring fence” sensitive systems and data internally on a private cloud rather than put them on shared, multi-tenant infrastructure. However, the organisation will need to ensure that it puts in place appropriate policies, governance and security systems to ensure sensitive information is not able to be pushed out into the public cloud.
What is burst capacity?
Burst capacity refers to extra computing power that can be turned on quickly to deal with an unexpected spike in traffic or usage.
For example, a system running in a private cloud may experience a sudden spike in demand. Under a hybrid cloud model, that system exhausts its resource allocation in the private cloud, and then “bursts” into the public cloud temporarily to continue processing the demand without affecting other systems running on the private cloud. The private-public connection is orchestrated seamlessly.
Therefore the public cloud acts as “burst capacity” for the private cloud.