ARTICLE | 5m read
July 24, 2022
$1 trillion in business value. That’s how much McKinsey estimates can be unlocked when a business adopts the right cloud strategy. However, there is no one-size-fits-all journey to the cloud, and many attempts to combine private and public clouds end up increasing IT complexity without benefiting the business. These challenges can make adopting a great hybrid cloud strategy feel more like an impossible ideal than a tangible goal—but even though designing cloud strategy is not simple, there are proven solutions to streamline the process.
The key to a great hybrid cloud strategy is to adapt it to your business, not the other way around. By understanding how hybrid clouds work best, you can adopt modern hybrid cloud solutions that simplify how you migrate apps and desktops to the right private and public clouds. More importantly, such solutions let you migrate to the cloud at your own pace instead of forcing too much change at once. This article will examine how hybrid clouds work, what hybrid clouds are best used for, and how to build your hybrid cloud strategy.
According to Gartner, the definition of hybrid cloud computing is “policy-based and coordinated service provisioning, use, and management across a mixture of internal and external cloud services.” The key word here is “mixture.” Hybrid cloud solutions combine a private cloud with one or more public cloud services, typically using proprietary software to enable communication between each service. This enables businesses to leverage different clouds for different purposes, such as relying on a private cloud to host and secure sensitive data while using public cloud infrastructure to only pay for the computing resources they actually need.
When adopting a hybrid cloud strategy, the right management strategy is key. You want to manage your public and private cloud resources in a unified platform rather than attempting to manage individual cloud environments. Trying to manage individual environments separately increases the likelihood of process redundancies while also exposing you to greater security risk if each solution is not optimized to work well together. Choosing the right hybrid cloud architecture can prevent many security problems by limiting the exposure of private data on a public cloud.
What’s the difference between hybrid cloud and multi-cloud? While hybrid cloud and multi-cloud are often confused, they are not the same. A hybrid cloud refers to the pairing of a private cloud and public cloud, while multi-cloud deployments rely on more than one public cloud provider without necessarily using a private cloud. This means a multi-cloud deployment may include hybridization, but a hybrid cloud is not a multi-cloud. Multi-cloud deployments may reduce the need for cloud migration, as some data can remain on the organization’s servers.
Hybrid clouds give businesses greater control over their private data while also leveraging the resources of a managed public cloud. Businesses ranging from the financial sector to the healthcare industry have adopted hybrid cloud solutions to increase agility and reduce reliance on on-premises infrastructure. Because few organizations have the room or budgets to deploy all the servers they need onsite, cloud computing has been an IT mainstay for more than a decade. Hybrid clouds enable an organization to choose the right cloud for the right purpose instead of being forced to rely on a single public cloud provider for everything.
Take healthcare organizations, for example. Strict regulations and compliance rules make data privacy crucial for these organizations, but completely relying on private onsite servers is too expensive to be feasible. Hybrid cloud strategy enables healthcare organizations to retain sensitive data in a secure on-premises datacenter while also leveraging the flexible computational power of a public IaaS model. This both improves computing power and cost-effectiveness while maximizing control over private data.
By 2024, the average company aspires to have cloud spend represent 80 percent of its total IT-hosting budget, and hybrid cloud strategy is a key part. Done right, hybrid cloud strategy can equip a business with greater flexibility by smoothly moving workloads between cloud solutions as needs and costs change. Done wrong, hybrid cloud strategy can become overly complex and difficult for IT to manage.
The usual first step for an organization adopting a hybrid cloud strategy is to begin with a public infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platform and extend specific functionalities to the private cloud. The key is to ensure your public and private clouds are compatible with each other and can communicate freely; this is why private clouds are often custom-built to be compatible with the chosen public cloud. Leading IaaS providers like Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services have made it easier for organizations to connect local resources to public cloud solutions using APIs to simplify interoperability. You may also wish to have a hybrid architect deploy a hypervisor layer to generate VMs that connect to the public cloud using a software layer that’s responsible for orchestrating cloud environments.
As always, the primary value of a hybrid cloud is flexibility. This in mind, you want a flexible hybrid cloud strategy that can manage on-premises virtual desktop infrastructure alongside public clouds so you can use public, private, and on-premises resources as you see fit. This unified management solution makes it easy to move workloads to the cloud at the pace you want—improving your security posture, delivering a consistent employee experience, and gaining holistic visibility across your cloud infrastructure.
Security technology will always have a key role to play in keeping ahead of zero-day threats to your web apps and business data. Your IT team is essential for managing your new endpoints and overseeing new security tools. But you must never forget how vulnerable your cybersecurity can be to human mistakes. By treating your employees as the front line of security strategy and increasing their security IQ, you can help them handle business data securely and be excellent stewards of your customers’ trust.
Learn more about the state of security in our hybrid work world by reading this report.