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What exactly is hybrid cloud – the advantages and disadvantages

Large-scale enterprises can no longer get away with simply having on-premises systems; hence, migrating some digital operations to the cloud has become necessary.

The first step involves choosing whether or not to use a public or private cloud or both. Using both is a hybrid cloud.

But what exactly is a hybrid cloud? Before answering, let’s look at the two alternatives: public cloud and private cloud, and how these compare. 

A public cloud involves hosting data and applications on a third-party server, which can then be accessed over the web. This puts the responsibility on the third-party company to manage the servers and service anything that goes wrong.

In many cases, an organisation’s data and apps will be stored alongside others’ data on the same machine, meaning they could be more vulnerable to a security breach.

To maintain cloud storage security, organisations can also invest in private cloud technology. Here, databases are stored on secure individual servers. Private cloud can be managed in-house, with servers located on the premises, or it can be managed by a third party.

Although private cloud is more expensive, generally, it provides a more secure infrastructure. Better security from keeping the servers on a company’s own premises also means more responsibility for ensuring that security protocols are sound and that everything is up and running properly.

So, public or private cloud? While many businesses may view this as a one-or-the-other choice, it’s reasonable for large organisations to utilise both alongside their established onsite systems.

These organisations are discovering they can combine the advantages of private and public cloud options, building a single solution that marries the benefits of each while limiting the disadvantages.

This hybrid cloud solution combines many of the advantages of both public and private cloud systems, allowing information to be shared between on-premise systems and those maintained in the cloud.

By acting as orchestration between all platforms, the hybrid cloud increases organisational flexibility. For instance, consider remote workers who would still be able to access information located on local servers through the cloud. As companies grow in size and scope, this improved flexibility often becomes more and more essential.

The hybrid cloud market is projected to grow to $97.6 billion by 2023. Demand for hybrid cloud computing has never been higher, and fortunately, companies are rising to the occasion by providing top-notch service.

But what are the benefits and potential challenges? Cloud computing pluses and minuses come in many forms. Fortunately, for many organisations, there are more advantages than disadvantages when using hybrid cloud, and the benefits include:

Cost savings

Hybrid cloud might be an investment upfront, but it will provide plenty of cost-saving benefits down the road. For example, businesses using public cloud without a hybrid might have a difficult and expensive time migrating information if they decide to make changes to their internal systems. Also, because a hybrid cloud is scalable, it makes handling changes in business goals cheaper down the line.

Unique balance of control

Only hybrid cloud technology can provide a blend of benefits that come from public and private servers. Users can enjoy the scalability of a public cloud environment without forfeiting all control to a third party. With every hybrid cloud situation being different, a unique solution will have to be applied to each hybrid system in order to fulfil specific requirements.

Speed of deployment

Because a hybrid cloud is designed around an organisation’s needs, it can be optimised with speed in mind. For example, because this system isn’t entirely public, IT staff will be able to minimise latency, making data transfers quicker and easier.

Business agility

The overall level of customisation available for hybrid cloud also ensures that an organisation is agile enough to handle the needs of customers or clients. Not only does it connect old systems to new ones, but the hybrid cloud also allows businesses to create an overarching structure that meets the unique needs of a specific enterprise.

The disadvantages

Although hybrid cloud computing may be a necessity for certain large-scale organisations, there are potential issues when investing in a hybrid cloud solution. These include:

Overly complex security

A Forrester survey of 1,000 chief information security officers (CISOs) revealed that managing the growing complexity of security is their first concern. Because of the complicated nature of hybrid cloud, building effective ongoing security is a difficult process. Organisations should be fully prepared before loading sensitive information into a hybrid cloud.

My company commissioned a global survey exploring security preparedness and network visibility. They discovered that many IT professionals find it difficult to maintain visibility easily across a sprawling hybrid cloud. Lack of visibility can put a company at security risk.

Thankfully, there are ways to combat the disadvantages, giving a hybrid cloud setup the best chance of success. Here are several approaches designed to help achieve hybrid cloud success without lowering network defences.

Encrypt data

First, prepare against potential security breaches by encrypting data, making it more difficult to access.

Don’t leave security to cloud vendors. These might make work easier, but in handing control of sensitive data/information over to a third party, an organisation is putting its faith in their ability to protect that information.

Unfortunately, not all third-party vendors might be capable of keeping information private. Instead, ensure that the tech team is involved in, and working on, a security system to ensure maximum safety for the hybrid cloud framework. Determine which apps, data and workloads are appropriate for each cloud type.

Data should be stored strategically within a hybrid cloud network. Sensitive information should be kept onsite or in a private cloud, while other less valuable data can be stored in the public cloud.

Utilise a container orchestration platform. An effective one such as Kubernetes will help deploy apps across cloud environments.

Use automation where possible. This can increase the speed of information, making it easier to react to a security threat quickly and providing consistency across multiple platforms. It saves time in managing the system.

Invest in a cloud-visibility tool. Increased visibility permits increased security as the IT crew will be able to spend their time focusing on other equally important tasks.

So, hybrid cloud is a cost-effective way of connecting various data systems while balancing an organisation’s needs. However, building and integrating a hybrid cloud is complex and can be potentially time-consuming. Often the potential rewards more than compensate for the difficult learning curve.

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