Seen by some as the middle ground between offering all computer services on premises and offloading all of your computational and storage time to a cloud, hybrid clouds are rapidly gaining ground in the business world. However, just what is the hybrid cloud and is it right for your company?
Hybrid cloud computing: What is the hybrid cloud?
The idea of a hybrid cloud is to combine a public cloud, such as Google Cloud or Amazon Web Services, with a private cloud specifically designed for your organisation. The infrastructures are operated separately but are able to communicate with each other using an encrypted platform. The technology however, allows for data to be ported across this connection to applications in both clouds.
What is perhaps most important to bear in mind is that the private and public clouds are independent and distinct from each other. This means that companies can store protected data and still enjoy the possibility of leveraging resources through a public run cloud.
Of course this doesn’t mean that you can just run any public cloud provider and attach it to a server. Cloud services must be offered through the private infrastructure.
Hybrid cloud computing: What are the benefits of hybrid clouds?
So why should you consider hybrid cloud computing for your company? Let’s take a look at some of the hybrid cloud benefits:
- Direct access: With a hybrid cloud you have an instantly accessible private infrastructure – it doesn’t reach you via the internet. This means there is a reduction in latency and time when compared to a usual public cloud.
- Workload support: Hybrid clouds can support your business’s workload and still offer the ability to enjoy leverage with a public cloud in case of a failover: such as if your workload surpasses the power of your private cloud. As such, you’ll only need to pay for additional computer time as and when these resources are required. So when you have seasonal needs to naturally enjoy higher than usual computing time – for example, during tax seasons – you can extend to your public cloud as a cheaper method than building a private infrastructure that would typically remain idle for most of the year.
- Flexibility: If you are able to extend your private cloud, you can enjoy flexibility in your server designs.
So are there any disadvantages to hybrid clouds?
There are some potential problems with the hybrid cloud, including:
- Security issues: While the hybrid cloud has many advantages compared to stand-alone public clouds, there is still potential for security issues: many of which already plague the image of public cloud providers. By allowing information to travel through a network there is a security risk: and there is the chance of third party interference.
- Time sensitivity: Just like a public cloud, hybrid clouds are not ideal for operations that are time critical. This is because they are sensitive to some delays in terms of moving the data across the network. In fact, a member of the Japan Meteorological Agency openly questioned whether a cloud is suitable in terms of offloading data about weather predictions because of time lags.
- Budget: Hybrid clouds are still in their infancy and, as such, they are generally expensive. An organisation with a relatively small IT budget is unlikely to be able to afford a hybrid cloud because of the upfront cost of the server – most smaller businesses are likely to prefer a provider of public clouds.
So where is the hybrid cloud being used now?
There are a number of sectors in which the hybrid cloud has been particularly successful, including:
- Financial sector: In the financial sector, hybrid clouds have enjoyed rapid success – particularly when it comes to pushing trade orders across a private cloud. It can decrease the physical space required for trade orders while also boosting the security of data. The concept of trusting data to public providers is beyond the remit of most financial companies as it is a completely unnecessary risk which has the possibility of exposing the entire business.
- Healthcare sector: In the USA, the healthcare sector has quickly embraced hybrid cloud computing. That’s because it provides an ideal platform for the relaying of data from insurance companies to healthcare providers and vice-versa. Because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act it is vital that health information is not disclosed and so strong permission settings are vital.
- Law firms: The idea of using hybrid computing among law firms is to protect against hardware failure or potential loss from theft.
- Retail sales: Sales information transportation and analytics are the key reasons why hybrid clouds are preferred in the retail sector: they both help to deal with intensive computational tasks.
So why should you consider the hybrid cloud?
With a hybrid cloud you have the potential to manage files and integrate a host of different business processes, such as: scheduling, analytics, business intelligence and internal messaging.
Whereas a public cloud does not always integrate all hardware, a private component is an efficient way of bringing important devices like scanners, fax machines, security cameras, security hardware and printers on to an organisation’s network.
So if you want to gain more control of public and private components without actually offloading all of your data to a third party, then a hybrid cloud platform could be the key. The initial costs are high but, in the long term, it could even be a budget friendly option.