Many organizations have adopted at least some public cloud solutions for the convenience, scalability, and affordability they offer—but security is a common hang-up, particularly for companies that handle sensitive or heavily regulated information.
Having full control over dedicated servers is one benefit of building a private cloud—infrastructure that’s used by just one organization—but many businesses don’t have the budget or in-house expertise for this to be a practical solution.
Hybrid cloud lets enterprises tailor services to fit their needs. It uses public cloud services—those managed by third parties like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google—and private cloud infrastructure, then links the two using an encrypted connection.
Hybrid cloud still has its limitations, but the benefits are quickly winning over enterprise users: Market research company MarketsandMarkets.com estimates that the global hybrid cloud market will reach $84.67 billion by 1919.
Benefits of Using Hybrid Cloud
Public cloud’s typical “pay as you go” model makes it a quick and affordable system to get up and running while keeping costs contained. Building out that infrastructure internally—both the hardware and the expertise required—comes at a high cost. By seamlessly linking public service providers with private infrastructure, hybrid cloud strikes a balance that lets companies adjust what they buy to what they actually need.
This is particularly critical for companies that want the advantages of the cloud but need to protect privileged and confidential data, whether for internal purposes or to meet regulatory requirements.
Healthcare is one sector that makes good use of the hybrid model. To handle large amounts of electronic protected health information (ePHI) on a regular basis, a healthcare organization needs a cloud solution that offers high security, sufficient network carrier options, and strict compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
A private cloud allows full control over data storage—including who has access and where that data is physically stored—which makes it easier to ensure compliance. But that level of protection isn’t necessary for all a business’ data. A hybrid solution means an organization can invest in secure systems where needed but use the public cloud for less sensitive data.
On-premises data storage also has lower latency—the time between inputting information and getting a result—because it doesn’t rely on a public Internet connection to move data around, something that’s particularly important for mission-critical systems. Private infrastructure also reduces the risk service disruptions and broader changes in the ISP marketplace. However, with these benefits comes limited capacity; if the workload changes and a server is overwhelmed, the whole system can become bogged down. Hybrid cloud enables something called “cloud bursting”—directing overflow to the public cloud only when it’s needed. This gives an organization flexibility while limiting data exposure.
Hybrid Cloud and Its Cyber Security Issues
Even though hybrid cloud offers a number of benefits, its use involves some challenges as well.
Redundancy isn’t straightforward. Redundancy—having duplicate versions of systems or data in case of failure—is a benefit of cloud computing, allowing a smooth switch if something goes wrong. With public cloud solutions, an architect can implement redundancy over multiple data centers. Building redundancy into a private cloud can be expensive, but there are ways to use a hybrid solution to make this more cost effective.
Risk management with new technology. Hybrid cloud requires new application programming interfaces (APIs) and complicated networking configurations. While support is often available from a hybrid cloud provider, the move can challenge traditional system administrators, which may create risks as they learn the new system.
Security is better, but not guaranteed. The private component in a hybrid solution minimizes the exposure of data, but doesn’t eliminate it completely—the transfer of data could still be intercepted by a third party.
Lack of well-defined service level agreements (SLAs). Many companies have SLAs with a public cloud provider in mind, but problems can arise when a private cloud vendor is expected to meet that same agreement. When moving to a hybrid cloud solution, SLAs should be based on expectations for both public and private clouds.
Cloud computing of any sort still has pros and cons, but the technology is improving, and hybrid cloud offers the highest level of flexibility to suit budget, security needs, and IT expertise. Working with a managed service provider to get the most from a hybrid solution, while minimizing any potential risks, will help your organization with a successful deployment.
This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. For more on these topics, visit Dell’s thought leadership site Power More. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.