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The hybrid cloud

Image: The hybrid cloud

The term ‘cloud computing’ as we know it, was first coined in 1996, and since then it has become second nature to everybody with even the most basic of technical knowledge.

For IT decision makers, it has been the focus of budget, expertise, and time. However, with security presenting itself as a consistent issue for any company handling confidential data, some businesses are hesitant to put their trust in the cloud, potentially putting themselves at risk.

You could easily be forgiven for not knowing all of the different kinds of cloud systems available, including private, public and now even hybrid. Unfortunately, not reading up on the variety of options available can affect not only your budget, but also the safety of your business.

The technology behind these cloud services is readily available to organisations, meaning a new model of cloud computing has been born in the professional sector; the hybrid cloud. This type of cloud programme is the combination of a public cloud provider with a private cloud platform, one that’s designed for use by a single organisation. The public and private cloud infrastructures, which operate independently of each other, communicate over an encrypted connection, using technology that allows for the portability of data.

This new technology allows businesses to store protected data on a private cloud, while retaining the ability to use software from the public cloud to run applications that rely on this data. It keeps the security risks to a minimum because sensitive data is not stored on the public cloud in the long-term.

However, the hybrid cloud is not a case of simply connecting any server to a public cloud provider and naming it hybrid. The private infrastructure must support a cloud service that can run an open-source enterprise content management (ECM) software, based on a cloud management platform for private and hybrid cloud deployments.

One clear benefit of a hybrid cloud model is having an on-site, private infrastructure that’s directly accessible: in other words, not being pushed through the public internet to complete confidential work. This reduces access time in comparison to public cloud services.

It is also beneficial to have access to on-site software that can support the average workload of your business, while retaining the ability to use the public cloud for overloading circumstances in which the workload exceeds the power of the private cloud. This also allows us to use the extra computer power only when needed, which is beneficial for businesses with heavier workloads at certain times of the year (e.g. tax season, Christmas etc.) Extending to the public cloud is much cheaper than building out a full private cloud that could sit idle for most of the year.

Although hybrid cloud provides a variety of advantages over the public cloud alone, it still suffers from the same privacy and security issues that public cloud providers suffer from. Allowing information to be transported across a network that can be subject to hacking is, to many businesses, an unnecessary and reckless security risk.

Cost can also be an issue, although IT budgets are on the rise (see our blog post about it here), it can be incredibly expensive to rollout a full hybrid cloud solution. Most of the expense is used on the servers on the private end of the spectrum and can get quite costly. However it can be argued that if a business is large enough to need a hybrid system, than they can probably afford it.

The hybrid cloud can greatly facilitate connectivity in the workplace. In addition to managing files, companies must integrate with various business processes (such as internal messaging, scheduling, business intelligence and analytics). Public cloud offerings alone do not readily (if at all) integrate with on-premises hardware. With the hybrid cloud model, IT decision makers have more control over both the private and public components than using a pre-packaged public cloud platform.

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