Moving your mission critical enterprise IT systems into the cloud no longer means moving them out of your building, or out of your control. If you adopt a hybrid cloud architecture you get the best of both worlds.
When cloud computing arrived roughly 10 years ago, it meant putting some of your IT infrastructure, including applications and data, on public clouds being offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and other emerging cloud vendors. Later the concept of hybrid clouds was born. Enterprises could then place some of their data and applications in public clouds, while also putting mission-critical applications and data in private clouds, where their resources were segregated and more secure.
Hybrid clouds offer businesses the opportunity to choose exactly the right cloud scenarios for their workloads, whether they are updating, modernizing or scaling their IT systems and operations. Regardless of which clouds they choose, the right cloud can be found to serve a company's needs, while still ensuring control and security by your IT team.
Today, hybrid clouds have come a long way. The best-known public cloud vendors include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and IBM, which offer private and public cloud services. Private clouds can even be on-premises or off-premises as needed.
So, what are the pros and cons of adopting a hybrid cloud architecture?
The Pros of Adopting a Hybrid Cloud Architecture
- Improved business continuity: Hybrid cloud is a mix of everything, so you get the best of all cloud worlds. That means your enterprise won’t grind to a halt if one part of the infrastructure suffers an outage or other glitch. It also gives your company the ability to be vendor agnostic to protect itself from being held over a barrel by a single persuasive vendor.
- Flexible infrastructure: With hybrid cloud computing, enterprises can add or subtract computing resources instantly and flexibly from vendors when needed, instead of having to add expensive and maintenance-demanding new hardware.
- Better security: Because data security is critical to hybrid cloud vendors to keep customer business data well protected, you can expect the most up-to-date security those vendors can provide. That can make it easier to meet regulatory data handling and storage requirements.
- Anywhere, anytime access for IT workers: When issues arise, and IT issues always seem to arise, your IT team can gain access to your clouds from anywhere, anytime, using web-based controls. That offers major benefits for the management and oversight of your hybrid cloud.
- Cost controls: By building your IT systems with the right mix of public and private cloud capacity, your company can better monitor and control its IT costs. Paying for what you need can be monitored and changed as required if your IT systems require changing combinations of public and private clouds.
- Faster speeds: Hybrid networks can be configured to push essential data through private servers instead of public servers, greatly improving load times and data transfer speeds.
The Cons of Adopting a Hybrid Cloud Architecture
- Security: While increased security is a benefit because cloud vendors have a vested interest in being sure that their systems are secure for their customers, as a user you can't take that for granted. Hybrid clouds still mean you must maintain the highest level of oversight about how your vendors are protecting your data, because if there is a security breach, it’s still your data and your responsibility. You must be completely aware of your security needs and expectations, as well as your backup and recovery capabilities. You must be sure of service-level agreements, and be certain that you address every concern you have about your use of cloud services. Security doesn't end with your cloud vendor. It still ends with you.
- Cloud expertise is required: When using the cloud, enterprises must be sure that they have the right IT staff members who have the deep and varied skills needed to configure, deploy and manage their cloud infrastructures. That also means that enterprises will require the right software tools to manage and operate their deployments. Both cost money, which will be needed to support these efforts.
- Potential application and data integration challenges: By placing data and applications in separate private or public clouds, this can cause complications which will require fixes from your IT team or vendors. These challenges can make you curse the day you decided to move to a hybrid cloud system, but they can be managed and resolved through planning, careful attention to detail and imagination by your IT staffers.
- Lack of Visibility: When workloads reside in a hybrid cloud environment, it's difficult or nearly impossible to get a singular view of everything you're managing, monitoring, securing, etc. This is especially true if you're using different providers for the multiple clouds. Using a third-party platform that is purpose-built for providing this level of visibility is paramount to having a hybrid cloud strategy succeed.
Cloud computing has come a long way in the last decade. When it first emerged, cloud offered a way to solve many business problems, but of course, it also added new concerns about loss of control and security worries. That’s where having a healthy hybrid mix of private and public clouds in today’s IT toolbox can offer the best strategy for enterprises that want to change their infrastructures to be more agile and progressive. Hybrid clouds can give enterprise users the best of both worlds by offering redundancy, compute power on-the-fly and more.