We’ve said it before and we’ll probably be saying it again soon: when it comes to the cloud, one size does not fit all. That’s why we commonly categorize “cloud” as a starting point: public cloud and private cloud. And now, the cloud approach that’s been monopolizing conversations among IT gurus and CEOs alike is the hybrid cloud. So what is it, and how can it benefit your organization?
First, it’s important to know that the hybrid cloud is not just the “cloud du jour”—it’s here to stay. In fact, the hybrid cloud market is expected to grow from $33 billion just a few years ago to nearly $92 billion by 2021. And it’s achieving these high adoption rates by making cloud adoption practical, more customized, and often more affordable—and thus far more appealing for many organizations.
A hybrid cloud is a mix of any of the aforementioned cloud strategies (public & private) that you can read about in more detail here, along with on premise infrastructure—with orchestration between each.
Onsite + Cloud Strategy
Let’s say a company has significant on-premise investments. While many IT experts would lead you to believe all legacy equipment is a barrier to cloud adoption, it can actually be a catalyst for cloud adoption. How is this possible? A hybrid cloud setup can essentially be an effective on-ramp to a longer term “all-in” cloud strategy.
Unless the on-site servers are extremely antiquated, many organizations do not want to throw away this type of capital in one fell swoop, so they don’t make the move to the cloud. However with the hybrid cloud, they don’t have to cut the cord on legacy equipment immediately; instead, the hybrid strategy allows them to keep those investments in place while adopting aspects of the cloud.
Then, if they choose, the organization can migrate more data to the cloud slowly over time; it’s the “baby-step approach” to full-cloud adoption. In this scenario, a secure link is set up between the on-premise environment and an off-site cloud; this could be as simple as a VPN, or more advanced such as MPLS or point-to-point.For small and mid-size companies relying on internal infrastructure yet reaching capacity, the hybrid cloud also allows them to off-site some data when they’ve hit the limit of their internal infrastructure (according to Techaisle, over 80% of organizations planning to adopt a hybrid strategy are of the small and mid-size variety). It also allows them to choose which resources remain on-premise and which do not.
Of course, some organizations don’t want complete cloud adoption at all, often because of misunderstandings about cloud vendors. Because the number one cloud concern remains security—a barrier that is finally showing signs of crumbling as cloud understanding grows—a hybrid cloud allows them to maintain some infrastructure onsite and take advantage of an off-site cloud with seamless integration between the two.
While this does put onsite resources at risk from outages, human error, or natural disaster that the cloud or Disaster as a Recovery Services (DRaaS) can offer protection from, maintaining this control is a priority for them.
An example of a hybrid cloud deployment would be connecting several different public & private clouds with on-premise:
- Microsoft Office 365 for email +
- On-premise document scanning servers, replicated to:
- Azure Active Directory (public cloud) +
- Financial system in a virtual private cloud
In short, a hybrid cloud is simply the integration of ANY two clouds, and a lot of companies are suddenly realizing that they’ve been unknowingly managing hybrid cloud all along! Even if a company is using DropBox, Gmail, Workday, and a financial system with a Virtual Private Cloud company with any level of integration, they already have a hybrid cloud setup whether they knew it or not.
Cloud + Cloud Strategy
If an organization isn’t concerned about scrapping or doesn’t use onsite infrastructure, they may adopt a mix of public, private, and virtual private cloud. And while they’re not concerned about losing the capital investment of onsite infrastructure, they do often share the same security concern. So many organizations opt to leverage third-party public cloud services for less sensitive data, and then place critical assets with a private cloud firm that will sustain a much higher level of security than they could on-premise.
“[The hybrid cloud] lets you pick the right cloud for the right workload,” says analyst Dave Bartoletti of Forrester Research. “It doesn’t artificially limit you.”
Healthcare organizations are a good example of hybrid cloud adopters. Initially slow to adopt a cloud strategy due to the sensitive nature of their data, healthcare is finding hybrid clouds to be the perfect solution. Their IT administrators have control over physical data centers, while some utilization of cloud storage reduces maintenance costs and improves HIPAA compliance.
Choosing the Strategy That’s Right For You
Ultimately, the strategy you choose needs to be right for your organization. What are your biggest concerns—Cost? Security? Efficiency? All of the above? A hybrid strategy, whether it’s a combination of onsite infrastructure and cloud or 100 percent cloud, might be the answer. Afterall, one size does not fit all (didn’t we say we’d come back to that again?)
If you need help determining with cloud solution is right for you, contact DSM today. Our team of experts can assess your situation, and recommend the best approach based on your needs and budget.