The term ‘cloud’ has saturated the business market, but few are aware of the varieties of cloud options: a public cloud, a private cloud, or a hybrid cloud. The different types matter to effectively managing your business and your intellectual property.
WHEN TO USE A HYBRID CLOUD
A business or organization who engages in both sensitive data and less critical workloads is a good fit for a hybrid cloud solution.
A few good business matches for a hybrid cloud solution are:
- Insurance companies with member access
- Doctor offices with patient access
- Ecommerce companies
- Brick and mortar companies with online ordering
- Accounting offices
- Law firms with prominent educational resources
- Education Institutions
In order to understand the benefits of a hybrid cloud, first we need to be clear about what the other two do. Once the benefits and drawbacks of the public and private cloud are clear, the hybrid solution will make sense for some select businesses.
You are likely familiar with services such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, and IBM Cloud. These are some of the most notable public cloud service providers in the industry. The servers and storage are owned and operated by one of these third party vendors, and service is delivered over the internet. Access to the applications, services, and email is easy through use of a web browser.
BENEFITS OF A PUBLIC CLOUD
When you’re using a public cloud, the same hardware, storage, and network devices are being used by other cloud customers. Since so many customers are sharing equipment, a public cloud is price friendly.
Public clouds are set up on a vast network of servers, so the resiliency is high. The system almost never fails. Because the network spans across so many resources, it means customers have nearly unlimited scalability. Often, whatever the customer is willing to pay will determine the amount of storage they can acquire.
Desktop applications work especially well on a public cloud. Some terms of service for a few business applications, such as Salesforce and Autodesk BIM, only allow the programs to be run from a public cloud.
DRAWBACKS OF A PUBLIC CLOUD
There is a breakeven point when it comes to paying for public cloud storage. The usage demanded by some medium to large enterprises can be exorbitantly expensive, and those companies would do better to host on a private cloud. Because public clouds regularly charge by the usage, the month to month costs are unpredictable and difficult to budget.
Because the data is hosted on a vast network in a public cloud, the security of sensitive data cannot necessarily be guaranteed. Heavily regulated companies dealing with mission-critical IT workloads will want to host their data on a more secured network. Having direct access to the physical servers and storage gives you control of your infrastructure, which might be necessary depending on your industry.
A private cloud is the better fit for most professional businesses. This is the option to choose when looking to maintain control over your organization’s data, records, or intellectual property. This solution dedicates the computing resources solely to one customer; the one to one ratio makes the data inaccessible by anyone outside those resources. The data center can either be deployed on site and maintained by the business, or hosted off site by a third party vendor and be maintained by their support team.
BENEFITS OF A PRIVATE CLOUD
The ratio of one resource to one customer provides a much tighter control of data access. Security can be boosted by your own firewalls, which can’t be installed on a public cloud. A private cloud also offers the flexibility to customize the infrastructure. This is better for highly regulated organizations or businesses who need to adapt to constantly changing industry needs.
Enterprises that require massive amounts of storage and data access would do better financially with a private cloud. Private cloud costs are not tied to usage, so you receive as much computing power as you need at one price. The locked in prices make it much easier for companies to plan their yearly IT budget because they know exactly how much their cloud hosting is going to cost.
The exclusivity of a private cloud maintains a high level of scalability, efficiency, and performance. Combining the individualistic nature of private cloud operations with the ability to scale to growing needs makes this an attractive cloud solution.
DRAWBACKS OF A PRIVATE CLOUD
Due to the exclusivity of resources to a customer, that total cost of ownership can be high. If the equipment, customization, security, and scalability aren’t necessary for the long term, a public cloud is more cost effective. The equipment needed to scale the cloud also must be ordered and configured into the network, so time for arrival and testing needs to be calculated into the expansion’s time frame. A private cloud’s scalability is better for predictable growth and data usage rather than dynamic spikes in network traffic.
If the private cloud will be hosted in a data center in house, then it’s crucial to have an infrastructure literate IT department with the ability to get mobile users access through the security measures. If the private cloud is hosted off site, make certain the data center has a team proficient in remote technical support.
Public and private clouds both offer attractive options and a few disappointments, and so we come to the hybrid cloud solution. While using a private cloud service to meet the demands of security, customization, and efficiency, organizations can also integrate the public cloud as a cost effective short term solution for any network traffic spikes or fast scalability needs.
BENEFITS OF A HYBRID CLOUD
The ability to move data and applications between public and private clouds allows for your users to have better computing experiences. The public cloud can handle low priority functions such as email and a suite of office applications, and the private cloud can house company finances or client records. If there is a high traffic time of year (holiday shopping, tax season, etc.) when your company temporary needs extra bandwidth (so to speak), the public cloud can handle the extra computing needs. If you literally need extra bandwidth, that needs to be a call to your internet provider.
When both cloud solutions are deployed, the resiliency is unmatched. When the private cloud runs at full resource capacity, the computing needs can “burst” onto the public cloud to prevent interruption of service.
A hybrid cloud could also allow you to migrate those less critical workloads such as email and office applications from the private to the public cloud as their home location. It will also house those business applications that operate only on a public cloud.
By freeing up space on your private cloud, it reduces or eliminates any down time to your critical operations.
DRAWBACKS OF A HYBRID CLOUD
Paying for both a private cloud and public cloud can be a bit more expense. If you understand your exact needs for your private cloud for normal operations, you can budget that expense accordingly. Then you can subscribe to a suitable SLA for the public cloud to act as a catch all for cloud bursting and/or run your less critical workloads. The best case scenario would be to partner with a company who could provide both services.
Compatibility between the public and private cloud is something else to consider. Both need to operate smoothly on the same OS. Again, this is where you want either an exceptional in house IT department or a trustworthy third party vendor. The complexity of syncing the two solutions to react to the correct scenario requires significant skill to ensure your sensitive data remains secure.
IS HYBRID CLOUD AND MULTICLOUD THE SAME THING?
Because a Hybrid Cloud is combining two different cloud systems, is it also a multicloud? While that logic makes sense, it is not necessarily the case.
A multicloud uses multiple cloud systems for a user. This could be a combination of 2 or 3 public clouds for one customer for the ultimate failover prevention. Perhaps a customer with a global presence has several private cloud vendors because response times between company locations is slow, so a private datacenter closer to each location improves workflow. Likewise, a customer can choose to link a couple public clouds and a couple of private clouds.
In short, a hybrid cloud can be a multicloud, but a multicloud is not necessarily a hybrid cloud.
DETERMINING IF THE HYBRID CLOUD IS RIGHT FOR YOU
At the beginning of this article we have a list of good fits for hybrid cloud customers, but where do you fit in? How do you know you’re spending your budget wisely?
HERE ARE A FEW QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
- Do you have a company website that processes online orders and retains credit card information?
- Does your company website allow for members to log into a portal to access sensitive data?
- If your website has a member’s only portal, does it also provide information and educational content to the public?
- Does your industry require you to store your information on private servers, but you also have a public facing website?
If you answered yes to several of those questions, the hybrid cloud might be the best option for you. If you answered no to several of those questions, either a dedicated private or public cloud solution could be the right choice for you, depending on why you answered the question with a ‘no.’ The purpose of any cloud solution deployment is to support your specific needs and growth, so carefully consider the solution that is going to serve you best.
THE NEXT STEP
Once you determine you need a hybrid system, the next step is a matter of planning the project. Planning the deployment ahead of time will help make the process easier.
As mentioned, system compatibility is key. The two clouds can connect either through APIs, VPNs, or WANs. The public cloud and private cloud need to seamlessly integrate and work together on the same operating system in order to keep operations running smoothly. Make certain the operating system is going to handle both clouds so well that the users on won’t know which data center they’re working from.
Without a cohesive IT system, you could be stuck dealing with a brittle environment that is prone to “breaking.” To combat this problem before it begins, you’ll need someone tied to your organization with a comprehensive understanding of the compatibility of the infrastructures you want to work with.
Create a plan for the security challenges you’ll face when executing on the hybrid. You’ll want to set up the proper firewalls and ransomware. The architecture design will take some time and testing to determine if the platform and tools are right for your IT plan. In order to execute a quality cloud solution, testing and evaluation will be required at each step. An infrastructure re-do is time consuming and expensive, so better to assure each step is right rather than sprint through the process and have to retrace steps to discover where something broke.
You now have an idea if a hybrid solution is a preferable situation for your infrastructure needs. The process to roll out a hybrid system takes time and planning, but it can be incredibly beneficial. If you’re uncertain where to start, that’s where we step in.