Hybrid Cloud Architecture Explained

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    Storing, backing up and recovering your business’ data should be straightforward, but with so many different tools available — public cloud, private cloud, on-premises — how can you know which is the right one? Well, we can help! In this article, we explain the hybrid cloud and what it can do for your business. What is hybrid cloud and why is it so popular? Should your business be using it? Read on to find out the answers to these questions and help you decide whether hybrid cloud is right for you.

    What is the hybrid cloud and what does it do?

    Understanding the many kinds of cloud storage there are can be confusing. Many believe that the cloud is just one kind of service, but there are several different types of cloud-based infrastructures to choose from.  There are public clouds, which are the most popular and readily available, and what most people talk about when they mention clouds in an IT context. They are offered by a large list of service providers, with the most popular being tech giants such as Microsoft and Amazon. Then there is the private cloud, which are on-site solutions only accessible by a single client. And finally, there are hybrid clouds which are, as you might expect, somewhere in between. They use a combination of different architectures to achieve a kind of middle ground between the affordability and scalability of public clouds and the performance and security of cost-prohibitive private clouds. Yet even within the confines of hybrid cloud management, there are several different types of cloud architecture to choose from. 

    How can you manage hybrid cloud architecture?

    The beauty of a hybrid cloud is that because it borrows from elements of private and public cloud infrastructures, it can be tailored to suit your enterprise’s needs. Indeed, there are several approaches available to you when it comes to managing your hybrid cloud architecture:
    • Hybrid Cloud Management Software — Vendors of all shapes and sizes have developed software that allow users to manage their hybrid architectures from a single console. All aspects of public and on-premises cloud infrastructure including storage, databases and virtual machines can be spun up and down, whether they’re on-site or in the public cloud.
    • Vendor-Native Hybrid Cloud — As more Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers have arisen, an increasingly popular alternative is to extend a business’ on-premises footprint to a public cloud or vice versa. 
    • Platform as a Service (PaaS) PaaS allows developers to write custom applications for enterprises without provisioning the underlying infrastructure upon which they run. Usually, such solutions are run privately on the client’s business premises, or natively hosted on the IaaS provider’s public cloud. PaaS is designed to automatically configure resources across these environments, thereby facilitating a hybrid cloud.

    What are the benefits of hybrid cloud?

    When exploring your options for a cloud-based solution, it’s imperative that the solution you choose is fit for purpose not just today but in the future. And in an ever-shifting digital landscape, that’s a big ask. Especially when your enterprise is undergoing periods of growth or restructuring. A hybrid cloud benefits a wide range of enterprises in ways that can be highly conducive to efficiency, sustainable growth and long-term prosperity. As previously hinted at, a hybrid cloud offers a reasonable trade-off between private and public cloud options. A hybrid cloud offers fewer limitations and better security than a public cloud yet is much more cost-effective than a private cloud, which may be surplus to requirements for most modestly-sized enterprises anyway.

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    One thing that makes hybrid clouds popular among up-and-coming young businesses is their flexibility and scalability. Cost-conscious startups on the rise can allocate resources to either private or public cloud storage depending on where, when and how they are needed for maximum operational efficiency. And as these nascent businesses grow, more resources can be added to their existing infrastructure with neither downtime nor fluctuation in service. In fact, hybrid clouds are generally very easy to implement on a wide range of scales, and because they can be tailored to virtually any setup, they can get up and running quickly without downtime or teething problems. Operational efficiency and reliability are high priorities for businesses trying to develop a name for themselves and stay two steps ahead of the competition. The ability to allocate resources across both private and public cloud environments makes for a great combination of reliability of service and security. In fact, hybrid cloud users get much of the security benefits of a private cloud, but at a fraction of the expense.What’s more, because hybrid clouds are tailored to the unique requirements of every business, clients only pay for what they use. This means there are no issues with wasted capital or resources. And if there’s one thing that every business can do without, it’s waste!

    What are the challenges of hybrid cloud?

    It’s easy to see why hybrid cloud solutions are popular for businesses who want the best of both worlds. Nonetheless, they are not without their limitations.  While they are easy to integrate into a wide range of existing infrastructures, they can grow unwieldy (and expensive) over time. They are also limited when applied to multiple locations over wide areas. Implementing a hybrid cloud infrastructure over different locations and categories raises compatibility issues which may present logistical problems to some organisations.  Hybrid clouds that start out fairly simply can grow increasingly complex as your operation and its needs evolve. This is why it’s so essential to take your time to find the right service provider — one who can continue to find elegant and efficient solutions to meet your needs. 

    Hybrid cloud vs multi-cloud: which is better?

    Very often, people mistakenly assume that multi-cloud and hybrid cloud are the same thing. Yet while the terms multi-cloud and hybrid solutions are often used interchangeably, they are fundamentally different in some ways. For starters, multi-cloud is not so much a solution as a strategy. You won’t find an IaaS service that offers a multi-cloud provision.  Multi-cloud solutions use several different public clouds, often with different service providers. There are some advantages to this (such as reducing vendor lock-in) but they are not integrated solutions.  Hybrid solutions are more advantageous because they are integrated solutions. Multi-cloud solutions may seem like the answer to all of your prayers because they can be tailored to your individual workload. However, because they are not integrated, there is no connection or orchestration between them, and this can make them clumsy. Coordinating a multi-cloud strategy across multiple departments and/or locations, each with different needs, can create as many problems as it solves. 

    Is hybrid cloud the best cloud?

    Hopefully, this article has enlightened you to some of the reasons why a hybrid cloud can be advantageous to all kinds of enterprises, whatever their size, scope and existing IT infrastructure. They can be incorporated into existing on-site and public cloud architectures with ease and efficiency.  This makes them especially appealing for businesses that pride themselves on their operational agility and proactive desire to meet tomorrow’s challenges today. Because it allows clients to switch seamlessly between different delivery models for different tasks and applications, a hybrid cloud offers benefits where their users need them the most. No matter how complex or multifaceted your performance, regulatory or security requirements may be, a hybrid cloud can help make positive changes to your existing infrastructure.  Quite simply, a hybrid cloud can be whatever you want it to be. However, any system, whether it’s public, private or hybrid, is only as strong as its implementation. And the key to a harmonious implementation lies with finding the right IT support services to suit your business’ needs.  The right IT experts can provide solutions developed with your unique needs, projected growth and budget in mind. They can not only ensure hybrid cloud will work for you, but they can also help you to implement it effectively and make sure your enterprise gets the most of out this architecture! 

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    Rob Townsend

    Rob is a co-founder at Nexstor and has dedicated his career to helping a range of organisations from SME to Enterprise to get ahead of the game when it comes to their compute, storage and data needs.

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