What Is Hybrid Cloud?
A hybrid cloud solution — in which an organization utilizes a combination of public cloud and on-premises data center or private cloud services—enables enterprises of all sizes to use remote application services and to coordinate multiple strategies for managing and processing large amounts of data.
The hybrid cloud approach often combines the use of public and private clouds and onsite infrastructure. This strategy enables IT and data management teams to combine features of public and private clouds, and to create an integrated environment for data storage and management. Hybrid cloud also provides users with flexibility in terms of capabilities, security, and compliance.
A hybrid cloud integrates public and private cloud resources into a unified and automated computing environment. Hybrid cloud is characterized by the movement of data between a public platform and private cloud and/or on-premises data center.
Hybrid Cloud Architecture
Creating a true hybrid cloud architecture requires communication and orchestration between the various network deployments. Hybrid cloud gives IT managers the ability to manage multiple clouds from a single dashboard. This differs from a multicloud approach in which the services provided by each cloud are managed separately, even as datasets need to be exchanged between them.
Software tools, such as application programming interfaces (API), improve native interoperability between cloud services. In some situations, hybrid cloud architects deploy a hypervisor layer to generate virtual machines that connect to the public cloud to handle orchestration between different cloud environments. A hypervisor is a process that separates a computer's operating system and applications from its underlying physical hardware.
Cloud solutions provide tools for creating and storing data, as well as strategies for where and how to consume that content or information. Public and private cloud solutions provide virtual infrastructures that enable organizations of all sizes to host applications or business functions, and to develop and test new software.
Public cloud solutions facilitate the movement of key processes into the cloud, enabling on-premises resources to be repurposed for other uses. Public cloud enables companies to shift resource management away from onsite data centers and reduces the need for managing server hardware, completing software updates, and remediating security issues. Management and maintenance are handled by the cloud service provider.
Private cloud offers dedicated computing resources, provides for direct control over data and systems, and facilitates high levels of security. Private clouds are controlled by the organizations that use them and are only accessible to a single enterprise. With private cloud, a company's IT managers have the ability to configure and customize the cloud computing environment to align with its specific needs.
Hybrid cloud includes the benefits of both public and private environments. A hybrid solution can limit the amount and type of data in the public cloud, which can reduce security risks. Hybrid cloud also enables enterprises to combine public and private processes to improve operational output. Combining public application services with on-premises data storage can enhance overall computing performance. For example, with hybrid cloud, a company can store data onsite while using the public cloud for compute applications.
Hybrid Cloud Uses
A hybrid cloud strategy facilitates the interaction of data and applications between a private cloud or on-premises data center and public clouds, and enables management from a single dashboard. Hybrid cloud design often combines a public platform, such as infrastructure as a service (IaaS), with a private cloud and an on-premises data center.
Hybrid cloud use cases range from application testing and regulatory compliance to disaster recovery and analytics. Companies use hybrid cloud for cost savings, performance, security, and scalability. In some instances, databases may remain in an on-premises data center and integrate with public cloud applications. Another hybrid approach entails using a virtualized data center in which workloads are replicated in the cloud when local server demand is high.
Businesses in almost all industries leverage some form of hybrid cloud computing. Among the leading industries using a hybrid cloud strategy are tech services, financial services, and software/hardware companies. Enterprises often mix –and match cloud services using a combination of public clouds (a multicloud strategy) and their own data center or private cloud. Hybrid cloud services are also an integral part of many business solutions that combine services in the cloud with on-premises networks. Examples of cloud delivery models leveraged in a hybrid cloud strategy include:
- SaaS: Software as a service (SaaS) is a licensing and distribution model that provides users with access to centrally hosted software. This model is typically offered by vendors on a subscription basis. Common hybrid-model uses for SaaS applications include document management, email, collaboration, customer relationship management (CRM), payroll, sales management, human resources, database management, and enterprise resource planning (ERP).
- IaaS: Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) ranges from scalable databases and virtual private networks to data analytics and machine learning. IaaS is a form of cloud computing that provides users access to virtualized computing resources that reside in the cloud. IaaS enables enterprises deploying a hybrid model to quickly provision compute resources that can be scaled up as needed.
- PaaS: Platform as a Service (PaaS) enables companies using a hybrid strategy to develop and deploy everything from simple apps to sophisticated enterprise-scale applications. Like similar services, PaaS infrastructure can be deployed on an as-needed basis. Users purchase only the resources and storage needed to support their apps. In addition to infrastructure—such as servers, storage, and networking—PaaS solutions include middleware, development tools, analytics, and database management tools. Companies use PaaS for building, testing, deploying, managing, and updating applications.
- FaaS: Functions as a Service (FaaS) gives users tools for developing and managing virtual applications. Physical infrastructure, such as servers and storage, is managed by a cloud service provider. With FaaS as part of a hybrid strategy, application developers don't have to worry about provisioning on-premises servers and can focus on building functionality for their apps. FaaS is a subset of serverless computing in which server configuration and management is handled by the cloud service provider and is transparent to the end user.
Hybrid cloud gives enterprises a multitude of options for managing new data sources and highly complex unstructured data types in any variety of use cases. The evolution of IT 4.0, the fourth major IT infrastructure paradigm, will continue to increase the need for hybrid clouds that use both public and private storage and processing infrastructure deployed flexibly from the core to the edge.