Today, cloud computing has become the standard operating mode for businesses of all sizes. According to RightScale’s 2017 State of the Cloud Report, fully 95 percent of the respondents to their survey are now making use of the cloud in one form or another.
Companies that are using cloud computing have a choice of three approaches: the public cloud, a private cloud, or the hybrid cloud, which seeks to combine the advantages of both the public and private cloud models. With a hybrid cloud, companies divide their IT workloads between an on-premises private cloud and the public cloud. According to the State of the Cloud Report, “hybrid clouds have become the preferred strategy at 85 percent of enterprises,” up from 82 percent the previous year.
Why has the hybrid cloud gained such favor among so many organizations? Let’s take a quick look at some of its advantages.
Probably the number one consideration that leads companies to use a hybrid cloud is the need to keep their most sensitive data secure. Many IT administrators still have doubts that the public cloud, with its multi-tenancy model and universal accessibility via the internet, can provide the level of data protection they require. That’s especially true for organizations in industries like finance or healthcare, that are subject to regulatory compliance requirements concerning the way personal information is handled.
By using a hybrid cloud, companies can keep their most sensitive or mission-critical information safely at home, on their own premises and behind their own firewalls, while still having access to the benefits of the public cloud for data that is less sensitive.
From a purely operational perspective, perhaps the biggest advantage of the hybrid cloud is the level of flexibility it offers. In contrast with the public cloud, companies have complete control over the on-premises portion of their hybrid cloud solution. They can customize hardware and software to exactly fit the needs of their workloads, thus maximizing the efficient use of their on-site resources. At the same time, they can move workloads or data into the public cloud as needed or permitted by data security or regulatory concerns. For example, many hybrid cloud installations make use of a technique called “cloud bursting,” in which applications running in-house can spill over to the public cloud to accommodate sudden surges in the demand for compute or storage resources.
Backup/Restore and Disaster Recovery
A very important consequence of the ability to move both data storage and compute resources between a private, on-premises environment and the public cloud is that business continuity and disaster recovery regimes can be cost-effectively optimized. For example, the use of software-defined storage (SDS) provides access to advanced data protection features such as remote replication, mirroring, compression, deduplication, and snapshotting. With these, an organization of whatever size can implement enterprise-level backup/restore and disaster recovery capabilities across its entire IT infrastructure, both on-premises and in the cloud, from a single point of control.
A good example of how a unified data protection scheme can span both private and public clouds is the Zadara Storage Cloud. Zadara installs VPSA Storage Arrays at customer locations for use in on-site private cloud implementations. In addition, VPSA Storage Arrays are already installed in the facilities of major cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and others. Under software control, data can be automatically and transparently mirrored between VPSA Storage Arrays both from on-site to a cloud service, or from cloud to cloud.
One of the inherent difficulties of the public cloud is that when data is physically housed in locations that are geographically distant from users, latency effects can put a cap on performance. With a hybrid solution, performance-intensive workloads can be housed on-site, with data storage and servers in close proximity to one another, while less demanding applications can run in the cloud.
A hybrid cloud can provide cost advantages in a number of ways. For example, workloads that are already successfully running on existing hardware in a company’s data center can stay where they are rather than having to undergo the often complex and disruptive exercise of being adapted to run in the cloud. In this way, an organization’s investment in legacy hardware need not be lost.
On the other hand, by making use of the compute and storage services available in the public cloud, companies can avoid capital expense (CapEx) spending to acquire or replace on-premises hardware. Instead, they can take advantage of the cloud’s as-a-service model to obtain the storage and computational resources they need on an operating expense (OpEx) basis. Zadara, for example, provides storage services for a monthly fee. Customers pay only for the amount of storage they actually use in any given billing period, no matter how many VPSA Storage Arrays may be installed at their site.
Is The Hybrid Cloud a Good Option For Your Company?
The move toward cloud computing continues to gather steam. In many cases, enterprises will eventually move the majority of their workloads to the public cloud. But for those companies with I/O performance or data security concerns, the hybrid cloud will continue its reign as the enterprise computing environment of choice for some time to come.
If you’d like to explore how a hybrid cloud could work for your company, please download the ‘Zadara Storage Cloud’ whitepaper.