Cloud technologies have been used by enterprises for almost a decade to streamline their IT operations and create new efficiencies and business opportunities. But as hybrid cloud technology has become more popular, the field has also brought new jargon and confusion.
To help reduce the chatter, this guide can be used as a starting place for what IT leaders need to know right now when it comes to using hybrid cloud environments for their enterprise operations, as well as how all the different hybrid clouds provide a wide range of options for your infrastructure.
What Is Hybrid Cloud?
At its core, hybrid cloud means using public clouds, from vendors including Amazon Web Services, IBM, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure, as well as bringing in your company's own private clouds inside your company's firewall or within a partner's hosted systems. Hybrid cloud is bringing in a mix of everything cloud to 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, while also giving your company the ability to be vendor agnostic to protect from being held over a barrel by a single persuasive vendor.
Being able to add or subtract computing resources instantly and flexibly from vendors when needed instead of having to add expensive and maintenance-demanding new hardware is another oft-heard reason for using hybrid clouds. And since data security must be critical to cloud vendors so they can protect their customers' critical business data, when you buy cloud services you can expect the most up-to-date security those vendors can provide.
Public clouds, which include offerings such as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), also allow enterprises to "rent" instead of buy when it comes to bringing together all the needed hardware and software infrastructure they need to fulfill tasks that aren't core business functions. That can make a lot of business sense, while freeing IT workers to focus on other important tasks.
At the same time, separate private clouds can be used to allow enterprises to securely protect and maintain their most critical applications and operations without having to worry about engaging outside vendors for help. For many enterprises, maintaining that full control of their private clouds is what makes them more comfortable about giving up some control for their public cloud operations and moving to hybrid cloud in the first place.
What Hybrid Cloud Is Not
What hybrid clouds don't mean, however, is to create them and then move your data, applications and operations and then forget all about them. It doesn't mean being hands off. 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 back-up and recovery capabilities. You must be sure of service-level agreements and all the rest and be certain that you address every concern you have about your use of cloud services.
All these issues and concerns mean that the shift to hybrid cloud isn't always a simple jump to take for enterprise IT leaders. Their old habits involving critical applications and data being stored and used in corporate data centers and legacy systems die hard. But as you begin considering and choosing hybrid clouds for their benefits, you can see how they are an effective way to make these progressive improvements in reworking your company's IT infrastructure.
Read our comprehensive guide, Microsoft Cloud Services - A Complete Picture, for a bird's eye view of Microsoft Cloud products.
Of course, such a strategy will also mean enterprises must ensure that they establish trusted and open relationships with their cloud vendors, so they can set expectations and requirements which will meet their service level and security standards as well.
These are all some of the critical issues to consider when looking at hybrid clouds inside enterprises.
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 forward-looking. Hybrid clouds can bring the best of both worlds and offer redundancy, compute power on-the-fly and more in a risky world to enterprise users.