For many years, cloud computing has been a central focus of IT decision makers. Still, those that are extremely conscious of security matters have been reticent to shift sensitive corporate work and data into the cloud telephony space, which they’ve presumed to be unsafe. Yet now with the base technology that lies behind cloud services being available for use within an enterprise, there’s a new model of cloud computing gaining ground: The hybrid cloud.
So What Is a Hybrid Cloud?
A hybrid cloud is a combination of a private cloud platform, that’s meant for use by only your company, with a public cloud provider like Google Cloud, Joyent Compute, or Amazon Web Services. These two infrastructures that work independently of one another talk through an encrypted connection that uses technology which enables portability of both applications and data.
A clear definition is important. Private and public clouds are different elements. This enables enterprises to store their sensitive or protected data on the private section, available only to them, while at the same time keeping available the ability to use the public cloud’s computing resources to run apps that rely on this data. This ensures their data is exposed for a minimum of time, as they are not actually storing any mission-critical data on a long-term basis in the public cloud architecture.
It’s essential to know that the idea of a hybrid cloud isn’t just plugging any arbitrary server into a public cloud provider and thus announcing it to be hybrid. The private server has to run some sort of cloud service software, such as Joyent SmartDataCenter or NemakiWare.
What Benefits Are There to Going Hybrid?
So what are the benefits of going hybrid? Is it meant for businesses of any size, or only the larger ones?
There are many benefits to adopting a hybrid cloud model, and we’ll touch on a few below. Given the flexibility of the cloud model, any business of any size can use its offshoot hybrid cousin, so long as there’s sensitive data to be protected.
One definite benefit of a hybrid cloud model is having direct access to your private infrastructure on-premises mission-critical data — it will never use the regular Internet, where it may fall prey to hackers. This will also significantly reduce latency and access time compared to public cloud access. Given the many current threats to proper functioning of the Internet — service providers and ISPs threatening one another, current stalemate on the Net Neutrality issue, and risk of consumer/business level consolidation of ISPs in the US — not being able to access your sensitive data is an unacceptable risk.
A hybrid cloud mode also has the capability to have the on-site computational power which can support the everyday workload for your enterprise, while at the same time keeping the ability to use the public cloud for situations in which your workload overpowers the computational ability of the private cloud component.
In turn, this gives you the additional benefit of only paying for the extra computational time when the resources are being used. This is ideal for businesses that have peak times during the year where a significantly higher amount of computer resources are needed, say during tax season. Using the public cloud is generally a better idea for a business than creating a whole new private infrastructure that is going to sit in standby mode for much of the year.
Who Utilizes The Hybrid Cloud?
The health care sector uses hybrid clouds quite extensively, as patient data needs to be relayed safely and securely between insurance companies and healthcare providers, all the while complying with HIPAA.
It’s also used by law firms, who typically encrypt their offsite data stores with hybrid cloud technology. This is done to protect against hardware failure, natural disasters, thefts, or anything else that might tamper with original evidence and documentation.
And hybrid cloud technology is also found in the financial sector, and, somewhat surprisingly, in the retail sales industry. The latter, it turns out, is quite computationally intensive. After all, retail has a large number of transactional data including sale and related analytics.