When businesses think about moving to the cloud, they often treat it as an all-or-nothing play; that is, put everything in the cloud or nothing at all.

One reason for this is that a lot of cloud service providers have historically promoted a ‘lift-and-shift’ approach to cloud adoption.

They look at what you have on-premise and then list the equivalent monthly fee you would pay to have all that hosted in the cloud.

But what I consistently hear when talking to customers is that they aren’t interested in going all-in.

Thankfully cloud technology and the conversation about cloud has matured enough for a viable alternative to emerge.

Enter the hybrid cloud: a model where some systems are hosted on-premise and others are hosted in the cloud. The cloud doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach anymore.

There is rapid growth in hybrid cloud adoption. A survey of 10,000 IT professionals by EMC this year found hybrid cloud adoption has grown 9% a year since 2013.

The survey also found that 27% of global respondents have already gone down the hybrid cloud route, and a further 64% “expressed a need for hybrid cloud due to its agility and security.”

A separate global study by Avanade found “companies the world over expect that a majority of their applications and services will be deployed in a hybrid cloud environment within three years.”

The trick is: how do you work out what will run best in the cloud, and what is best left on-premises (or perhaps, hosted in a private cloud onsite)?

At Brennan IT, we sit down with customers and use a process called workload-based design to help understand what might work best where. I’ll go into more detail about this in a future blog post.

Generally speaking, there are a few common workloads that you might currently host on-premise that would perform a lot better if they ran in the cloud. Web services – such as websites or portals – are one type of workload that comes to mind.

You might also like to start experimenting with a hybrid cloud model using Brennan IT’s Microsoft’s Office 365 Setup services.

For example, you might choose to move your email from an on-premise Exchange server to Office 365 Outlook.com or Exchange Online – but keep your Office productivity apps hosted on-premise.

Or you could keep your email hosted on-premise and back those inboxes up to Brennan IT’s cloud – again, a simple but effective hybrid approach.

Over the next few weeks, I will be writing about hybrid cloud in more depth – exploring potential challenges with hybrid environments such as security, and of course detailing our workload-based design methodology.

Stay tuned to The Voice blog for more.