Hybrid Cloud: What It Is, How It Works and Why You Want It

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about the hybrid cloud, and that it’s hugely popular among businesses of all sizes and throughout all industries. You’ve been told your business could significantly benefit from it. So what’s the draw? What’s really going on?

Let’s start out with a little bit of background to give you an idea of how popular hybrid cloud has become. According to the most recent State of the Cloud survey, 95% of organizations have adopted some kind of cloud. The majority of those businesses (67%) have gone hybrid. Gartner has proclaimed that hybrid cloud will dominate private and public clouds going forward. And 74% of chief financial officers (CFOs) say that of all technologies, hybrid cloud will have the most measurable impact on their businesses.

In this article, we’ll present what exactly hybrid cloud is, the types of business scenarios where it works especially well and the benefits that businesses like yours can get from it.

What Is Hybrid Cloud?

Hybrid cloud is not actually a different kind of cloud. Instead, it is a mix of both private and public clouds. To coordinate between the two cloud platforms, an “orchestration” layer enables you to easily move data and applications to the type of cloud – public or private – that makes the most sense for your business.

The benefits are significant: You basically get the best of all cloud worlds. You get the cost savings and “bursting” capabilities of, not just one, but multiple public clouds – which allow you to grab extra capacity when you need it, on demand, offering a fully redundant disaster-recovery platform – with the control and compliance advantages of the private cloud as well.

Having the ability to move workloads between private and public clouds as your computing, cost, and performance requirements change gives you the flexibility you need to operate in today’s fast-moving markets.

The Uses and Benefits of Hybrid Cloud

All of these explanations may seem terribly abstract – how can your business actually use hybrid cloud? Here are some scenarios that show why this particular cloud environment should be your top choice.

Manage cash flow by minimizing capital expenditures (CAPEX). Many companies today are being confronted with flat or declining IT budgets at a time when their business users are increasingly demanding new services. If you’re running out of capacity to accommodate these demands in your on-premises private cloud, deploy a hybrid cloud strategy. With this strategy, you can rent additional capacity as you need it from a public cloud provider rather than investing precious capital in further expansion of your physical data center.

Keep your most sensitive data and applications private. The public cloud is attractive because of its cost-effectiveness, but many businesses don’t trust it to house their most sensitive financial, customer or intellectual property (IP) data and applications. Here’s where hybrid cloud shines. You can keep control of your sensitive or critical workloads – say, your customer records that contain credit card and other personally identifiable information – by hosting it on your on-premises private cloud, but use a third-party public cloud provider to host less-critical resources such as test and development workloads or backup data. Thus, you have the option to relegate each type of data or application to the most appropriate cloud platform.

Accommodate dynamic or highly fluctuating workloads. Hybrid cloud eliminates the need to build up your data center to accommodate peak demand in your private cloud (for example, during the holiday season). You can simply add capacity when you need it through a public cloud provider, then scale back down accordingly. Take your retail order-entry system, for example. You could run the application itself in your private cloud, but take advantage of the public cloud when demand spikes.

Manage the influx of big data. Think of all the business, customer, sales, finance and other data you accumulate on a daily basis. Companies are just beginning to understand the wealth of data they possess on everything from emails between employees to customer transactions and visits to the website, among other data-generating events. What can you do with all of it other than continue to build out the capacity of your on-premises private cloud? Use the hybrid cloud. Because the public cloud can scale much easier when performing tasks that require distributed computing, you could store the data in your private cloud – website traffic data that shows customers’ shopping patterns, for instance – then run analytics against it in the public cloud.

Augment IT staff and resources to accommodate growth. If your business is growing quickly, you might not have the IT staff to support all of the IT resources that are needed. With hybrid cloud, you’re offered a helping hand from an expert third party – your public cloud provider – when you need it most. By taking advantage of the knowledge and experience of your public cloud provider, you can leverage your internal IT staff to achieve much greater productivity.

Speed deployment of new products and services. One of the most common uses of hybrid cloud is to keep sensitive, mission-critical IP in the private cloud, but then “burst out” into the public cloud when capacity is needed for less sensitive development or testing activities. Say you’re developing a brand-new mobile app to give your business a competitive advantage. You can keep the key research and development activities in your private cloud and use the private cloud for testing and quality assurance. You can even have several projects under development at the same time since the public cloud offers you virtually unlimited resources.

Mitigate risk of natural disaster or technical failure. A hybrid cloud can be used to ensure your business is protected against a failure at a physical site (either at yours or your cloud providers’ sites). By backing up your data to the public cloud, it will be available in case of a disaster, whether natural or man-made. Today many businesses even use multiple public clouds to spread the risk around.

In Conclusion

Hybrid cloud marries the capabilities of both on-premises private cloud and off-premises public cloud. This offering allows you to get the most out of your existing IT investments while gaining access to additional resources when necessary. Having the ability to seamlessly move your applications and data between these two environments will allow you to optimize the way your business’ cost, security, performance and availability requirements are met.

For more information about hybrid cloud, and how CenturyLink can help you make the most of it, visit CenturyLink.com.