Among the many benefits to come out of the cloud computing era is the power of choice. Whether it’s the range and variety of providers, platforms, architectures or services, most organisations now have a huge array of cloud options open to them.
And as IT leaders continue to build their experience of cloud, many are finding that the ability to integrate their choices into the ideal solution is the key to creating an adaptable, high-performance and cost-effective strategy. In effect, this is the essence of hybrid cloud computing.
At this point it’s important to distinguish between multi-cloud and hybrid cloud, two terms that are often confused. Multi-cloud solutions make use of multiple different public cloud services, drawing on the resources of several different providers, and may or may not include an existing private cloud. Organisations may consider using multi-cloud deployments to minimise perceived risks, maintain architectural similarities, and take advantage of the latest available features as it gives a spread of at least two different providers.
Hybrid cloud is an approach that always uses a mix of private and public cloud services and in many cases on-premises, colocation and/or dedicated servers with orchestration between all the platforms. It can be spread over several providers such as with multi-cloud, but not necessarily. For organisations looking for the flexibility of hosting some infrastructure in the public or private cloud, while keeping some bespoke applications on premises (private), for example, hybrid solutions have become the de facto standard for their overall strategy.
The fact that public and private cloud solutions can be linked into a hybrid cloud configuration, where components collaborate in an integrated way, is a huge advantage when it comes to being versatile and agile. A good example is if an organisation needs to expand its storage capacity quickly in the public cloud, switching to the private cloud later when they know this demand is longer term. This can be done for reasons of data privacy, but also to reduce cost, as in many cases, hyperscalers can be quite expensive when using it 24/7. Hybrid cloud allows for a more flexible strategy that’s responsive to business needs, changing demands, and cost limitations.
Heading for Hybrid
A hybrid blend of different cloud providers and technologies is an approach increasingly favoured by organisations looking to meet a range of needs. According to the findings of a survey published at the beginning of this year, the UK has the highest number of hybrid cloud deployments than any other country, except Italy and Brazil. Whether it’s to control costs, to quickly adjust their computing capacity and services, or to affordably add new infrastructure in a completely new country to take advantage of a growing market, the power lies in the ability to choose, change and refine a strategy as required.
Look at it this way; before the arrival of cloud computing, scaling IT infrastructure was often extremely expensive, and could present a particular challenge for small or startup companies. Hybrid cloud environments, however, allow organisations to scale in order to accommodate specific, even individual, workloads without affecting the performance or cost of other parts of their architecture. What’s more, businesses can apply automation rules to scale cloud resources up and down as dictated by demand. This versatility ensures an optimised environment that performs efficiently to take advantage of unlimited resources based on demand-driven usage, and many cloud service providers are geared towards making this process as easy as possible.
Such is the versatility of hybrid that it has the capability to support a mix of different architectures. For example could be a legacy database that needs to be integrated in an environment with an application developed in a current architecture. Using hybrid cloud means it’s possible to keep the legacy database on premises, or perhaps hosted in a private cloud, and develop the modern application in a public cloud.
Connectivity, Continuity and Growth
That’s particularly important as today’s highly connected businesses need to be up and running at all times, and data should still be accessible even during a technology failure or disaster recovery situation. However, there is more to achieving this than just backing up and replacing content on a cloud platform, and hybrid cloud solutions are often considered the key components in business continuity solutions. Hybrid clouds ensure critical data is replicated to a cloud in a different location, thus providing data insurance in the event of an event that could potentially cause downtime.
Similarly, one of the main reasons that organisations move to the cloud is to make it easier to expand their business into new regions. In particular, hybrid cloud platforms provide the flexibility needed when an organisation sees the opportunity to tap into new markets, but has limited resources and budget.
Towards Bespoke Hybrid
A hybrid strategy taking advantage of on-demand self-service means the cost of investment (CAPEX) and sometimes even the Operational costs (OPEX) can be significantly reduced. Cloud resources can be automated and spun up swiftly to grow when needed without over specifying and paying for what isn’t needed. Thanks to the reductions in time and low costs of entry provided by hybrid cloud solutions, companies of all sizes can explore new opportunities with minimal tech infrastructure risk. And on a day-to-day level, when it comes to innovative technologies, hybrid cloud solutions offer far more opportunities than other types of infrastructure, providing benefits in the form of customer satisfaction due to more customised infrastructure.
This all plays to the needs of many businesses that rely on their technology to keep pace with their ideas and opportunities at all times. It’s this power to choose technologies and services from an array of providers, and then integrate them into a unified infrastructure strategy, which is fundamental to the success of hybrid cloud.