What is Hybrid Cloud? [Beginner’s Guide]

What is hybrid cloud? A definition of hybrid cloud is an IT infrastructure architecture that combines private cloud with one or more public clouds. A hybrid cloud can also include one or more cloud service providers. This is referred to as multi-cloud and hybrid cloud architecture. Hybrid cloud offers increased flexibility by shifting workloads as demands and costs vary. This is accomplished through a single plane of management, unlike a multi-cloud strategy wherein admins must handle each cloud environment separately.

Hybrid cloud architecture

Uniform management of public and private cloud resources is more preferable to independently handling cloud environments because this reduces the odds of procedure redundancies. Separately managed environments raise the danger of security vulnerabilities in case every solution isn’t fully optimized to operate with others.

Hybrid architecture best practices remove many security risks by limiting the exposure of private data into the public cloud.

Hybrid cloud infrastructure normally contains a public infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platform, a private cloud or data center and access to a protected network. Many hybrid versions leverage local area networks (LAN) and wide area networks (WAN).

Businesses adopting a hybrid strategy typically start with public IaaS and expand into the private cloud. To set up a hybrid strategy efficiently, public and private clouds have to be compatible with each other so that they could communicate. Oftentimes, the private cloud is constructed to be compatible with all public cloud solutions.

In the last several decades, cloud IaaS providers like Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft, and Google Cloud have made it simpler for businesses to connect their on-premise or data center regional resources to a public cloud. Application programming interfaces (API) have enhanced native interoperability between services. Additionally, hybrid architects can set up a hypervisor layer to generate virtual machines which connect into the public cloud through a different software layer responsible for orchestration one of cloud environments.

Hybrid cloud benefits

What are the benefits of hybrid cloud? The benefits of a hybrid cloud strategy include the ability to provide IT leaders with improved control over their data and costs. Basically, hybrid cloud design provides multiple choices so that stakeholders may select a cloud environment that best suits their individual use.

Most businesses don’t use the same amount of computational resources daily. In reality, they may discover that its resources fluctuate during certain times of the year. As an example, an e-commerce store may require double the amount of computing power through the holiday season. As opposed to paying for additional resources to sit idle for the majority of the year, a business can reduce CapEx and OpEx costs by expanding its private cloud resources to public cloud when required.

Hybrid clouds require less distance compared to a strictly private cloud. A business can set up a private network on-premise to take care of internal requirements, then extend to the private cloud when computational resources transcend local availability. This strategy is especially beneficial for startups that can not afford to put money into the purchase of servers, storage devices, networking hardware, and colocation space within a private data center. It also allows established businesses to scale cost-effectively.

Who utilizes hybrid cloud?

All businesses that have IT infrastructure whether virtualized or not are shifting resources towards a hybrid cloud architecture. It simply decreases costs and the strain on local, on-premise resources. From the financial industry to healthcare, hybrid cloud has shown to enhance computing and storage capabilities, but also optimize performance and security.

Many businesses no longer have adequate space to deploy IT infrastructure on-premise in their internal data centers and telco closets. Businesses must also ensure the availability, reliability, and durability of their applications and data. Internal data centers are susceptible to power and network outages, airflow and cooling, and water damage threats from building systems. These environments must be managed by personnel.

Hybrid cloud use case

What are the use cases for hybrid cloud? There are many use cases for hybrid cloud architecture. As with all cloud infrastructure, the ability to scale cloud services on-demand offers unmatched flexibility for any use case. Here are a few practical examples of how you could use hybrid cloud.

New applications

Launching new applications with untested workloads can present significant challenges in determining the amount of computational and storage resources required. We receive this question a lot from individuals and businesses that are buying cloud services for the first time. There is uncertainty as to the type of resources needed and how many virtual machines (VMs), vCPUs, and cores are required.

With hybrid cloud infrastructure, businesses can make educated guesses at their cloud requirements. They can create test and development environments with public and private cloud infrastructure without significant, initial capital investment. With all cloud environments, customers are able to pay for the resources on-demand, as they use it, instead of paying for them upfront. If the application fails or is unsuccessful for any reason, the business will not have lost its investment. Hybrid cloud simply allows individuals and businesses to take more risks with their product development initiatives allowing for more innovation and competitiveness.

Regulatory compliance

Many businesses, organizations, and government agencies must comply with industry regulatory and compliance certification requirements. Specific examples of compliance requirements include HIPAA-HITRUST for the healthcare industry, PCI-DSS when handling customer payment data, and GDPR for contact information and permissions.

Protecting customer, payment, and user data is critical in today’s digitized world. Using the private cloud to host sensitive contact information and proprietary data makes perfect sense. However, not all data is required to be stored in a private environment. It also makes a lot of sense to host front-end code, blogs, public files, and digital assets such as images and videos in a public cloud environment.

Workload anomalies

While an application may perform well in its present environment, it may require additional computational power in the future. Hybrid cloud architecture allows applications to adjust to changing workloads which ensures that they continue operating even when traffic spikes. With hybrid cloud, workloads can easily transition from one environment to another with scaling policies and configurations.

How is hybrid cloud managed?

Managing hybrid cloud infrastructure can be complex, especially if you are running multiple environments across different cloud service providers. It requires a clear strategy and architecture for the use of APIs, storage management protocols, networking, and security policies. Mastering all of the ins-and-outs of cloud architecture is a significant challenge. Because of this, DevOps and IT look for a single interface that can control all cloud services, both public and private, on a single pane of glass. There are various enterprise-grade management applications to assist with the buildout and management of hybrid cloud environments.

Hybrid cloud providers

There are literally hundreds of cloud service providers to choose from globally. When it comes to the most well-known cloud providers, there are three market leaders. Listed below are the top three cloud service providers offering public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud infrastructure.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Amazon’s AWS is the market leader when it comes to cloud public and private cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) solutions. AWS controls over 40 percent of the cloud market and offers robust capabilities including their virtual private cloud (VPC) solution which is essentially a virtual data center in the cloud. This includes access to more than 200 cloud services – cloud servers, cloud storage, cloud databases, content distribution, serverless compute, platform as a service (PaaS), artificial intelligence/machine learning, and more. AWS offers virtual gateways and NAT gateways, APIs, load balancers to seamlessly connect public and private infrastructure.

Microsoft Azure

As the second most popular cloud providers, Microsoft Azure offers both public and private cloud infrastructure and a host of other cloud computing services. Microsoft Azure has been an early adopter and supporter of hybrid cloud architecture. Its investment in open source frameworks has also led to greater adoption of its cloud services.

Google Cloud Platform

Although relatively new, compared to AWS, Google Cloud has seen impressive growth of its cloud infrastructure services. Google Cloud provides access to cutting-edge artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. It also offers a wide range of public and private cloud infrastructure services that are well suited for highly complex computational requirements like those found in the scientific community.

Is hybrid cloud right for your business?

This article included a basic definition of hybrid cloud architecture and use cases for deploying a hybrid cloud environment. We also looked at the benefits of hybrid cloud and briefly mentioned the top three cloud service providers for hybrid cloud – Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.

If there was one outcome from reading the article, you have learned that hybrid cloud offers a highly flexible, powerful, and cost-effective cloud solution for applications, private data, and changing technology demands. It allows businesses to innovate at a faster face and reduces the risks associated with initial capital investment into hardware and data center space.

We also learned that hybrid cloud architecture is not as simple as spinning up a public cloud server instance in AWS. Strategic planning and cloud architecture knowledge are required to connect the different cloud environments and services together. This is further compounded with multi-cloud, hybrid cloud deployments. A single pane of glass or a “centralized management portal” is needed to accomplish this in most cases.

However, hybrid cloud is extremely beneficial for nearly all businesses, startups, and individuals building their cloud infrastructure. The technology behind hybrid cloud continues to improve and efforts are underway to make it easier to deploy and manage.

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