What is Hybrid Cloud? Definition, Benefits, and Examples

Updated Dec 2, 2022.
Hybrid Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is ever-evolving to meet the needs of individuals and businesses. With a hybrid cloud infrastructure, you can easily rise above the cons of using public and private clouds and enjoy their pros.

Situations may arise where companies may have to move their data and applications from one data center to another. Hybrid cloud infrastructure makes this movement easy and feasible.

This article will expose you to how hybrid clouds are formed, what it entails, how they operate, and how you can benefit from their services.

Let’s get started.

What is Hybrid Cloud?

Another name for hybrid cloud is cloud hybrid. A hybrid cloud refers to storage, service, and computing environments that mix an on-premises data center (private cloud) with a public cloud.

Hybrid clouds allow for data sharing between a private and public cloud. In more technical terms, a hybrid cloud combines public and private cloud services to provide management, orchestration, and application portability.

This combination results in an organization effectively running its cloud-native workload on the most suitable computing model.

What is Hybrid Cloud
Source: InfoQ

Hybrid Cloud Benefits

The hybrid cloud model allows every organization to utilize the benefits of combining private and public cloud services. Many organizations use it to minimize cloud costs and meet storage and computing resource demands.

1. Flexibility

Most organizations process various sensitive data in a not-so-conducive environment and adjust their cloud infrastructure.

A hybrid cloud setup can combine both the traditional systems and the most recent cloud technology without fully relying on or committing to a vendor.

The flexibility of a hybrid cloud model allows the organization to freely move critical workloads between their traditional infrastructure to a vendor’s public cloud infrastructure.

2. Cost Management

Users can decide which cloud environment best suits their budget to run or store their workload. Organizations that use private clouds own the data center infrastructure.

Owning a private cloud infrastructure requires the organization to put in a significant amount of capital which may be on the high side and cost the organization a lot of resources to manage.

On the other hand, public cloud resources and services are considered operational expenditures, resulting in cost savings.

3. Effective Application Governance

With a hybrid cloud approach, an organization can decide where all their applications and data sit and where exactly hybrid cloud computing takes place.

Application governance helps to improve privacy and ensures compliance with the organization’s regulated apps.

4. Improves Performance and Reduces Latency

Distributed applications located remotely experience certain benefits from a hybrid cloud solution. On the other hand, existing apps with low latency requirements have their hybrid computing happen near the end-users.

How Does Hybrid Cloud Work?

A hybrid cloud platform's primary purpose is to easily transfer data between cloud environments. This transfer could be either from a private environment to a public environment or vice-versa.

Hybrid clouds work by combining or mixing public and private clouds. The combination of public and private clouds is made possible through data virtualization, cloud servers, connected devices, and applications like APIs, VPNs, and WANs.

Once the combination is done, you will gain more control over data safety, legitimacy, protection, speed, availability, and security for your IT framework and client’s cloud applications.

Some enterprise-grade management tools help you run your cloud systems effectively if you do not have an IT team familiar with setting up and managing hybrid cloud solutions.

Public Cloud: Pros and Cons

Public cloud providers offer cloud platforms companies can use to store sensitive data and easily transfer them.

If your company contracts with cloud service providers like Microsoft Azure or Google cloud platform, use the public to run your operations.

Using public clouds has certain pros and cons that you cannot ignore. An example of a public cloud provider is Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Public Cloud Adoption for Enterprises
Source: Veritis

Advantages of Public Cloud

  • Scalability: A public cloud service is almost unlimited due to on-demand cloud resources.
  • Require Less Expenditure to Operate: Public cloud service relieves you of the cost of purchasing your data center equipment.
  • Reliability: A public cloud platform is reliable because it distributes data across various data centers.

Disadvantages of Public Cloud

  • Limited control over data security
  • Higher operational expenditure in the long term

Private Cloud: Pros and Cons

Just like public clouds, private clouds have both advantages and disadvantages. The proof that you use a private cloud is if you have set up a dedicated cloud infrastructure. You do not have to be the one managing it; you could also host it on-premises or off-premises.

Advantages of Private Cloud

  • Security: Private clouds provide better security when processing or storing sensitive data. Only your organization can access the data and applications using a private cloud because they are stored behind the organization’s firewall.
  • Greater Control and Customization: One main advantage of using a private cloud service is that you can customize the data services you want and how you want them to run.
  • Flexibility: Moving non-sensitive data to a public cloud to contain unexpected bursts of demand on your private cloud is feasible with a private cloud.

Disadvantages of Private Cloud

  • Higher Cost: You would have to pay for the necessary equipment you purchase more than once, and the initial charges are relatively high.
  • Responsibility: Maintaining and operating your own data center, IT hardware, enterprise software, and security is a lot of work.
  • Less Flexibility: When it comes to certain aspects like scaling IT resources up and down as the organization’s needs change, the private cloud is not so flexible to adapt to these changes.

Hybrid Cloud Architecture

Three important components are required to establish a hybrid architecture to establish a hybrid cloud effectively.

These components are:

  • Public infrastructure as a cloud service platform such as Google Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services.
  • Private computing resources like an on-premises data center
  • A reliable network connection to the hybrid cloud’s private and public cloud environments

Hybrid Cloud Networking

Establishing a successful hybrid cloud strategy requires a strong network connection. To establish a successful hybrid cloud strategy, you will require a wide network area or a dedicated networking service that helps to provide additional security.

An organization should regularly access the strength of its connection to ensure it does not fall below the uptime requirements specified in the service-level agreement with a cloud provider.

Hybrid Cloud Integration

A company lacks direct control over a public cloud architecture. As a result, the company must adjust its cloud resources and environments to be compatible with the selected public cloud environments, resources, services, and applications on programming interfaces (APIs).

There has to be the implementation of suitable hardware within the data center to make adjustments happen.

Two major ways to establish a hybrid cloud integration include:

  • Use the cloud as the hosting point of the front-end app.
  • Use a unified resource pool of cloud functions and data centers.

Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure

The hybrid cloud builds a virtualization layer on top of the on-premises or private cloud resources to create and support virtual machines and increasingly container-based virtualized workloads.

The IT team installs a private cloud software layer like OpenStack or VMware cloud. This software delivers capabilities such as automation and orchestration, resilience, and billing.

A more recent hybrid cloud architecture approach has enabled public cloud providers to effectively offer public cloud platforms that extend cloud services into private data centers. This approach integrates everything into the same software stack.

Hybrid cloud platforms connect private and public cloud resources differently, and standard industry technologies, such as Kubernetes, are incorporated in most cases to orchestrate container-based services. For example, VMware workloads to IBM Cloud.

Many providers offer cloud-native services to support modern application development using technologies such as serverless functions and APIs.

Amazon Leads $180-Billion Cloud Market
Source: Statista

Is Hybrid Cloud Right For You?

The advantages and disadvantages of processing and storing data in public and private clouds exist. You must be aware of the fact that you should not store certain sensitive data in public clouds.

1. Enjoy a Mix of Cloud Services

Most smart and forward-thinking organizations are subscribing to a mix of cloud services. With a hybrid cloud, you can enjoy the benefits of having both private cloud and public cloud services.

For example, an organization can reduce cloud storage costs by extending its private resources to a public cloud.

The hybrid cloud encourages apps and components to interoperate across boundaries (cloud vs. on-premises) between cloud instances and architecture ( traditional vs. modern digital).

Companies seeking to maintain regulatory compliance or embrace digital transformation will benefit from the flexibility provided by the hybrid cloud.

2. For the Future

A major reason hybrid cloud is right for you is that we live in an evolving world. Processing and storing data has become something that the world greatly depends on to make the necessary advancements and carry out their activities effectively.

As a result, storing data using the hybrid approach proves that your organization is thinking of its place in the future. Your organization’s needs may evolve, and the present storage platform for their data may not be compatible with your evolving needs.

The present platform where apps and data are stored or reside may not be suitable in the next few days, months, or years. You can easily move data and apps between public and private clouds with a hybrid cloud.

Hybrid Cloud Scenarios and Use Cases

Cloud customers can deploy a hybrid cloud for their cloud computing needs in multiple scenarios and use cases.

  • Dynamic or Frequently Changing Workloads: You can use public clouds for your dynamic workload and commit sensitive workload to a private cloud or on-premises infrastructure.
  • Separating Critical Workloads from Less-Sensitive Ones: When it comes to sensitive data like customer information and financial data, you can store them on your private cloud. Other data and applications can run on a private cloud.
  • Big Data Processing: You can effectively process your big data using a highly scalable public and private cloud to keep the data secure.
  • Moving to the Cloud at Your Own Pace: While storing your data, you can mix things up by storing your data and apps on a small-scale private cloud or a public cloud, or have a mixture of the two.
  • Temporary Processing Capacity Needs: You can easily allocate public cloud resources to execute short term-projects. Using your data center's IT infrastructure will cost more than using a public cloud. This option prevents you from investing too much in resources and pieces of equipment you require for a short time.
  • Flexibility for the Future: It equips you to handle future cloud management needs. Depending on the hybrid cloud management complexity, you can easily store or move data in a public cloud, private cloud, or on-premises resources.
  • Best of Both Worlds: You enjoy all the advantages of private and public cloud solutions.

Leading Hybrid-Cloud Solutions You Can Try

With so many hybrid cloud computing services available in the market, what are the leading hybrid cloud services that best fit your needs?

Hybrid Cloud Challenges

Despite all the eye-catching benefits of the hybrid cloud, there are some challenges users may encounter while using it.

  • Compatibility: Irrespective that public and on-premises cloud environments function together, they are not easily synchronized and are not fully compatible.
  • Data Handling: If data are not handled appropriately, certain issues can arise, resulting in cost and security challenges.
  • Cloud Security Challenge: Among the biggest hybrid cloud security challenges, authentication and authorization rank high. There are certain actions that organizations have to do for them to access data in private and public cloud environments effectively.
  • Complex Access Management: Apart from access management, you will have to use identity, single sign-on tools, and assign permissions only when it is important to concentrate on hybrid cloud access management effectively. Accessing data in both public and private cloud environments requires implementing centralized protocols.
  • Skill Gap: Effective management of a hybrid environment requires a specific set of technical skills at a certain level. In most cases, cloud users and IT staff may only possess the skills required to run just one cloud data center and not the other.
  • Private Cloud Maintenance: With the hybrid cloud approach, your enterprise will incur a reasonable cost in maintaining the private cloud component. Implementing additional software, valuable equipment, and management tools can complicate a private cloud.

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Martin Luenendonk

Editor at FounderJar

Martin loves entrepreneurship and has helped dozens of entrepreneurs by validating the business idea, finding scalable customer acquisition channels, and building a data-driven organization. During his time working in investment banking, tech startups, and industry-leading companies he gained extensive knowledge in using different software tools to optimize business processes.

This insights and his love for researching SaaS products enables him to provide in-depth, fact-based software reviews to enable software buyers make better decisions.