Since the exponential growth in cloud computing in recent years, cloud technology and its use cases have continued to grow and evolve. But what kind of cloud computing is best?
We have previously explored the benefits of bare metal dedicated servers, and we’ve looked at the differences between public and private cloud, but a third solution is gaining popularity - hybrid cloud computing. Promising the benefits of private cloud, public cloud, and bare-metal products, hybrid cloud computing allows you to choose a combination which works exactly with your requirements. Hybrid cloud solutions are already being deployed by 82% of companies, according to Flexera’s 2021 State of the Cloud Report.
If you’re considering joining them, this blog will help explain what hybrid cloud is all about. We will look at what constitutes hybrid cloud computing, types of business situations suited to using hybrid cloud solutions, some drawbacks, and finally which types of organizations are most likely to benefit.
So what is hybrid cloud, and how would your company benefit from hybrid cloud solutions? Simply put, hybrid cloud computing allows users the option to put different parts of their infrastructure on different types of hosting.
In order to understand hybrid cloud solutions we first need to look at a brief overview of the differences between public and private cloud environments.
Public clouds are generally the most well known and most common type of cloud environment. In this model, the cloud infrastructure is owned and managed by the cloud provider and delivered to customers over the internet. Public clouds are multi-tenant solutions - customers share the underlying physical servers (e.g. hardware, storage, network devices), but rent their own virtual machine, allowing them to operate their required operating system, independently of any other customers.
One of the main benefits of using public cloud is its capacity for global scalability, with virtually zero lead times. The cloud provider is also responsible for all the physical infrastructure relating to the cloud. This means there is zero acquisition cost and hardware maintenance is split between all tenants, making it a cost-effective option for the right business. Further cost savings come from the ‘pay as you go’ models, where you only pay for what you reserve, so there’s very little wastage. Public cloud also has reliability built in, as virtual machines can be readily moved to another physical host in the event of downtime or maintenance.
As it’s a shared hosting environment, you’ll have little control over the security of your data, and you’ll be sharing resources with other users, which could impact performance. Another potential problem might be higher operational expenditure if you have very large-scale workloads.
While a public cloud is a shared platform, private cloud environments are dedicated entirely to a single tenant. The cloud could be located at the organization’s own on-premise data center, or it may be hosted by a private cloud provider off-site. Regardless of location, a private cloud’s infrastructure and services are always within a private network, and the resources within it are used only by your business.
Because the services and infrastructure in a private cloud are dedicated to a single organization, the resources in this type of architecture can be customized to meet your exact needs, giving you greater control, security and cost-efficiency. Private clouds also offer much more scalability than on-premises environments, with most private cloud providers offering some instantaneous service provisioning when needed.
While private cloud hosting can save businesses money in the long run, your workloads need to be considerably large to benefit from the economies of scale that come with buying or renting private cloud hardware. So if you’re a smaller business, which requires fewer than five small virtual machines, you probably won’t experience cost savings from private cloud architecture. You’ll also find it’s less flexible in terms of scaling compared with public cloud. The term “elasticity” is commonly cited in the list of benefits of public cloud, as it can track volume and scale up and down as required, but this sort of elasticity is less available with private cloud infrastructure.
Hybrid cloud computing is a business model that enables you to leverage different types of hosting for different use cases and types of infrastructure. With hybrid cloud computing, businesses can choose the right environment for the right workload.
With hybrid cloud solutions, you can take advantage of each environment simultaneously, making the most of the benefits that each type of hosting offers.
For instance, if part of your application stack requires multiple physical servers to host but rarely scales, bare metal servers would be cost effective. If another set of systems require incredible fault tolerance and security but not particular scale, private cloud with disaster recovery features is your winner. In addition, you might experience seasonal peaks that cause traffic spikes, which might be best suited to public cloud for instant scalability.
So in this instance, a hybrid cloud solution featuring bare metal, private and public cloud could prove the most effective way to split your internal workloads.
Support short-term projects. With a hybrid cloud, it is more cost-efficient to allocate resources for smaller, short-term projects to a public cloud rather than expanding your infrastructure capacity in your data center or private cloud.
Solve compliance issues. Some highly-regulated industries require organizations to fulfill certain criteria on where data resides, making public cloud unsuitable for certain workloads (e.g. healthcare providers). With hybrid cloud computing, you can meet regulatory requirements by placing sensitive data in a private environment, while other workloads (e.g. those which require scalability) can be hosted in a public cloud environment.
Create built-in flexibility. Hybrid cloud solutions mean that any unexpected increases in workloads can be accommodated by speedy public cloud provisioning. With hybrid cloud solutions, companies have the flexibility to match their data and computing requirements to the most appropriate environment, whether that be private cloud, public cloud or on-premise environment.
Strengthen disaster recovery. With hybrid cloud computing, organizations can replicate on-premise data and back this up in the cloud. This means that if there is any disruption in the data center, failover of workloads to the cloud ensures continuity of service.
Easily test and develop new applications. In this situation, hybrid cloud solutions are ideal because using public cloud is a cost-effective and quick means of developing and testing new applications, without the need to invest in infrastructure on-premises or a private cloud.
Implementing hybrid cloud computing can require management of multiplier suppliers and contracts, and you may need additional auto-scaling tools. In addition, integrating the different elements of a hybrid cloud brings another layer of complexity; coordinating what workloads, apps and data go where and when, for example.
While one of the advantages of hybrid cloud computing is that it can reduce IT spending and operational costs, this type of environment is still more expensive to implement than a straight-forward single-hosting set up. As well as dedicated equipment, hybrid cloud solutions will need a confident IT team to maintain the environment.
While not suitable for all sizes and types of organization, if you’re a large, growing business which runs a number of different applications, it’s definitely worth exploring hybrid cloud computing. You need to consider the burden of set-up, complexity it can create, admin of procuring multiple suppliers and the potential increase in overheads. However, for the right company, hybrid cloud solutions can provide the best of the different hosting options while saving them huge amounts of money and enabling scale.
Our team of cloud and hosting experts would be happy to discuss your options. Get in touch to discuss your requirements.