Hybrid cloud computing is a model of cloud services that combines public and private cloud systems to maximise the advantages of cloud computing while simultaneously mitigating some of the potential pitfalls of a cloud migration.
In hybrid cloud models, these seemingly polarised data migration strategies (public and private cloud) are intertwined to create an integrated and automated cloud management system. Gartner estimates 74% of all organisations are using both public and private cloud solutions; ergo: using hybrid cloud computing. This percentage is expected to rise. By 2017, half of all large organisations globally will have deployed a complete hybrid cloud infrastructure.
The benefits of public cloud lie in its flexibility and scalability, as well as its relative economic advantage. This economic advantage manifests in the form of savings through economies of scale. (Gmail is an example of public cloud.)
In comparison, the benefits of private cloud lie in its unparalleled suitability for organisation-specific tasks and processes. Because cloud migration companies can develop custom made cloud services and solutions, and deliver these in a software as a service (SaaS), private clouds have a greater potential. Furthermore, private clouds generally provide greater data security. However, this enhanced cloud security typically requires the curtaining of third party APIs (application programming interface).
There is rarely a black and white choice between public and private cloud services, as each option deprives an organisation of some of the key benefits of the alternative.
The hybrid cloud model provides a solution for the public-private cloud dilemma, and provides organisations with the advantages of cloud computing while simultaneously mitigating some of the potential pitfalls of a cloud migration.
The hybrid cloud model allows organisations to have increased control over their cloud migration. This results from the free movement of varied types of data across platforms. This is particularly valuable in dynamic or highly changeable workloads. For example, a transactional order entry system that experiences demand spikes during certain periods is a good hybrid cloud candidate. The application can run on a private cloud generally, but use cloud bursting and access additional computing resources from a public cloud when demands spike.
Generally, hybrid clouds are cheaper than private clouds and more secure than public clouds. They can also incorporate organisation-specific tasks and processes, a key advantage of private cloud while simultaneously taking advantage of the scalability of public cloud.
Hybrid cloud solutions are difficult to plan and implement, both from a technical and a strategic perspective. This is because of the fact that while both public and private cloud largely offer straight-forward solutions individually, choosing the best aspects and finding an optimal balance between the two is time-consuming and risky.
In order to mitigate some of the associated risks, hybrid clouds require continuous testing and optimisation. Because of this, some of the benefits accruing from hybrid cloud computing may be long-term and the outcome of an ongoing implementation, monitoring, and analysis.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to hybrid cloud computing and its benefits rely on an effective implementation by the organisation and the cloud migration company. Effective implementation of hybrid cloud computing is characterised by identification of the best combination of public and private cloud elements in accordance with organisational needs.
In conclusion, organisations should first understand what their goals and strategies are in order correctly choose a cloud solution. The public-private options should be evaluated in light of advantages and disadvantages of each, and how these align with organisation goals and strategies. In many cases organisations are discovering they are best served by a hybrid cloud solution.