Just a few short years ago, the big buzz was all about the upcoming cloud revolution. The prognosticators predicted a time when all documents would be available on whatever device you wanted.
Well, that future is here, but not every organization may be in a position to fully commit to the public cloud. The hybrid cloud helps organizations take advantage of the multitude of cloud storage options available to them at the current moment, while helping executives feel safe with their data.
In essence, the hybrid brings the best of cloud computing with the privacy answers that many IT firms have.
What is Hybrid Cloud?
The hybrid cloud provides an integrated cloud computing platform and storage solution for a specific organization that needs public, as well as private cloud infrastructure.
The idea of using a hybrid cloud is to use different services to a varying degree to be more cost efficient and scalable.
Often the appeal of a hybrid solution is that part of the cloud service is managed directly by the company, while other routine processes are handled by a third party vendor.
There are a few different models for using a hybrid cloud model.
- First, a company can contract out to multiple services to completely wall off the private and public cloud service. Each service provides a different type of cloud service.
- Second, the organization can manage a private cloud on their own servers and use a public cloud with a third party provider. The organization can then integrate the two systems together.
- Third, if you want to simplify your needs have one vendor who can provide both the private and public cloud service.
How can companies use a hybrid cloud?
Here is an example of how this would work. Suppose a company has several remote employees in multiple locations. The employees have their own computer that they use for business.
The business can use Hyper-V servers to create a network of virtual servers that ensures the resources of each individual computer are not over-taxed.
Then add in Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform to store your information, so it is safe and accessible wherever you go.
Benefits of Hybrid Cloud
Access your information wherever you go. The biggest reason for using the cloud is to access your files and applications wherever you go. Traditionally, companies could only access their data through their device and/or a disk or removable hard drive or a private VPN connection to their office network.
That changed with the cloud.
For example, let’s say you use Microsoft Office 365 to access your company's or personal data. You can now save the files on Microsoft Onedrive and access additional resources or applications via Microsoft Azure on a multitude of channels including your iOS, Android, and Windows devices.
The new Microsoft Operations Management Suites (OMS) even allows Azure to operate across multiple cloud platforms, including AWS, Windows Server, Linux, VMware, and OpenStack.
Separate your information. Every company has some information that they want to keep private and other information that is best to use publicly.
For example, you would not want to have a free white paper in the same folder as your corporate taxes information.
That is the exact reason why many companies separate cloud services for this information. If for some reason information is hacked on a public server, at least the private information is still secure in the on-premise environment. Private (Hyper-V) clouds can be extended to the public cloud service like Azure to access the rest of their data. It also helps with the next topic we address: disaster recovery.
Disaster Recovery is less dramatic. Continuing with that line of thought of separating your information is the idea that in case something crashes your data can still be protected. Then you can access your files on your Hyper-V server quickly and easily.
Remember in a traditional IT environment, a data loss can be disastrous. However, with a virtual server environment, your company is not in as much danger of losing their most valuable information.
One of the hallmarks of a virtual infrastructure is that of redundancy, but that only extends as far as your geographical location. Imagine now that with a few clicks, your entire virtual on-premise server infrastructure can be extended and replicated to an Azure Data Centre hundreds of miles away.
Save more money. 82% of companies saw savings within 6 months from moving their files to the cloud. Interestingly enough, 14% of companies downsized their IT department after they brought their data onto the cloud.
The cost savings range from less infrastructure needed on-site to cheaper cloud storage options compare to traditional IT storage to lowering energy consumption on server.
Whenever you outsource technology offsite, you can reduce the equivalent man power needed to run that machinery in your organization.
Scalable. What is quicker to scale, your on-site, in-house IT infrastructure or a Microsoft Azure server farm?
The answer is obvious: Azure. If you want to grow your business, you do not need to store all of the devices on premise. Therefore, when you grow all you need to do is add more servers to manage your technical needs.
That makes it easier for you to grow your organization in a faster manner with more agility than before.
Run your network faster. The final benefit of using a hybrid cloud is that you keep your servers running more efficiently.
With PaaS (Platform as a Service), for example, you could effectively outsource your SQL server processing to powerful Azure services freeing up internal valuable hardware and licensing costs.
Drawbacks of Hybrid Cloud
While there are a number of benefits of using a hybrid cloud system, a few drawbacks exist as well.
Specifically, using a hybrid cloud could be difficult if you have two different systems that do not work together.
Security is still a very big issue. For example, recently the LAPD dropped Google Apps as their primary email and cloud service provider, because the service is not secure enough to meet the Criminal Justice Information Systems new requirements for cloud providers.
The new requirements are onerous, but needed. Considering the fact that every day we hear about new cyber-attacks.
That is why services like Microsoft Azure Government have requirements like physically isolated datacenters and networks, true geographic redundancy with data centers spread out at least 500 miles or more away from each other, and operated by government screened employees.
On a side note, having more data centers also reduces latency, because the data does not have to travel as far to reach the customers.
The new international cloud privacy standard, ISO 27018 is a step in the right direction to help the EU and USA fighter cyber terrorism. This is the first standard to protect personal data stored on clouds.
The Future of Hybrid Cloud
As the cloud market continues to grow, more and more companies will rely upon cloud computing to improve their business.
However, with technology changing so rapidly it is essential that you plan for that future today. That is part of the reason why many executives opt for a hybrid service.
Instead of fully committing to a technology that could be obsolete by the end of next year, they have a large part of their systems in the cloud and some of their key processes, systems, and files stores safely on their own server.
Improved Data Delivery from providers. One of the biggest challenges is increasing data delivery. If your documents are served offsite, the difference can cause exponential decreases in data delivery.
Using options like the High Altitude Long Operation drones and balloons that are currently being tested by NASA is one way to seriously augment the decrease in speed. These planes would fly around the country to provide faster service throughout the United States.
The Internet of Things (IoT) continually changes cloud computing needs. Only a decade ago, most of the world internet was tethered to a desktop computer. Now, not only are we seeing an increase in mobile devices and laptops, but the internet of things will completely change our perception of the internet.
Over the next 5 years, the IoT will be worth $2 Trillion by 2020. That is twice the value of the market today.
Why else would Google pay $3 Billion for Nest last year and Samsung pay $200 million to research smart lightbulbs?
The increasing growth of the IoT will put a strain on cloud computing as more and more devices connect to the internet.
Find the right hybrid cloud services
How can you find the right hybrid cloud options for your business? Here are three steps you want to take in order to make the right investment in hybrid cloud services.
Step 1: Plan ahead. We mentioned before that you need to have a plan for your IT infrastructure. Start today with determining the best options available for your business.
If you are not sure consult a professional to help with your decision-making process.
Step 2: Assess your current staff. Make sure your decision is based not only on what is best for your company, but also how to best deploy the resources you have in your business now and in the future.
A lot of those resources are your human resources. Make sure if you decide to house a good percentage of the data in-house that you have the right staff to manage that data on your company servers.
Conversely, if you believe your staff could be better off pursuing other projects, then look at additional cloud services to fill in the gap.
Step 3: Evaluate your best options. Finally, you want to look into what are the best options for your needs. Look through each company to determine what makes them better.
Do you feel comfortable with Amazon, because they own a 28% share in the market or Microsoft because they are an industry leader in the security standards being developed?
Compare and contrast to make the decision that fits your needs based on your planning and assessment of your business IT infrastructure.
Hybrid computing has come a long way in the past few years. As cloud computing continues to become a popular way to offload the huge amounts of data that companies continue to create in their business, hybrid will become a large part of that mix.
Having the right information makes a different in your business. Storing that information even more so.
Weigh the benefits and drawbacks of using a hybrid cloud computing service for your own business. Then decide what type of solution you want. If you have additional questions about hybrid computing, please feel free to contact us for more information about how we can help you get started with your hybrid cloud solution.