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Hybrid Cloud: Benefits and Barriers

By Kaushik Pal | Reviewed by Kuntal ChakrabortyCheckmark
Published: September 9, 2022
Key Takeaways

Hybrid cloud has many benefits, namely lower cost, better security, low latency, high availability, scalability, easy management and innovation and growth potential. But to reap these, you'll need proper workload planning and management.

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In the beginning, cloud computing was just a utility -- commonly known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

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But issues with primitive public cloud platforms (mainly revolving around security, compliance and customizability) has since caused many businesses to opt for the hybrid cloud model: a combination of the public and private cloud models, which gives organizations the best of both worlds and makes for an efficient cloud strategy. (Also read: Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud: How to Choose.)

However, is hybrid cloud as good as it seems?

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Let's find out. But first,

What is Hybrid Cloud?

Before we can examine the pros and cons of the hybrid cloud model, we need to know what we're talking about.

In general, hybrid cloud can be defined as a combination of public and private cloud infrastructures.

More specifically, the hybrid cloud model is a cloud solution that meets both of the following criteria:

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  1. It consists of two or more cloud platforms.
  2. it contains both private and public cloud infrastructures.

As cloud computing technology has evolved, the hybrid cloud concept has extended. It now covers multiple heterogeneous on-premise infrastructures -- like private cloud, servers, containers and virtualized infrastructure -- and also includes multiple public clouds from various cloud providers. Moreover, these diverse cloud components are not in silos; they are well-connected and integrated to deliver seamless processing power. A proper hybrid cloud integration also makes it easier to manage and monitor the entire cloud infrastructure, allowing smooth portability for both data and applications.

In short, with hybrid cloud, the name says it all: It's truly hybrid in nature and spans multiple dimensions. (Also read: 3 Key Aspects of Effective Hybrid Cloud Management.)

Hybrid Cloud Benefits

First, the hybrid cloud optimizes the workload in both the private and public cloud infrastructures it comprises. It balances cost, security, speed, availability, and scalability efficiently.

Other major advantages of hybrid cloud include:

Lower Overall Cost

The hybrid cloud helps the enterprise optimize capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operational expenditures (OPEX).

Infrastructure cost is one of the biggest challenges in any enterprise; and hybrid cloud helps pacify this by bringing a balanced combination of public and private resources. This allows organizations to make a proper plan for workload distribution.

Better Security

A combination of public and private cloud brings the best combination of security solutions.

That's because the public cloud, by nature, is configured with automated and highly efficient security systems. This reduces error, as human intervention is minimized, and is more cost-effective than traditional cloud security measures. At the same time, the private cloud provides more customized security to protect organizations' sensitive data.

Bringing these benefits together, hybrid cloud gives the enterprise the most bang for its buck in terms of security. (Also read: Cloud Security 101.)

Low Latency and High Availability

The hybrid model can help the enterprise overcome availability issues.

Public cloud services rarely fail -- but if/when they do, it can be detrimental to client organizations. Private cloud and local data centers can provide the backup for public cloud downtime, but to really ensure airtight availability, organizations distribute their workload between the public and private clouds (i.e., the hybrid cloud). Ideally, store your critical data in the private cloud and/or your local data center so service continuity can be maintained even if there is any downtime in the public cloud infrastructure.

The above factors can also apply to latency; using the hybrid cloud model can help reduce the time it takes for data to travel.

Scalability

In today's competitive business environment, scaling up to catch the growing market demand is the key to success. And the hybrid cloud is the perfect solution

The private cloud does not scale up quickly, but public cloud infrastructure is highly scalable. Since it combines the two models, hybrid cloud allows the enterprise to scale up the public part of its cloud infrastructure whenever necessary and in a cost-effective way.

Ease of Management

Hybrid cloud solutions are easy to manage because they provide efficient and reliable management solutions for the infrastructure as a whole.

Public cloud solutions also provide lots of automation (sometimes AI-based), which is very helpful for managing the infrastructure.

Innovation and Growth

Because the hybrid model is highly cost-effective, organizations can experiment with it without having to invest upfront.

This creates a great opportunity to innovate and grow: With a hybrid cloud, you can take calculated risks, test new ideas and implement them. (Also read: Experts Share the Top Cloud Computing Trends to Watch for.)

Hybrid Cloud Challenges

Along with great promises, hybrid model brings some challenges. Some key drawbacks to this model include:

Complex Implementation

There's no denying it: Hybrid cloud implementation is a complex task.

A proper migration strategy and planning are very important. Organizations should run a pilot project before migrating their workload into the hybrid cloud because, sometimes, the distribution of workload distribution between public and private clouds may go wrong, which can have a negative impact on the business.

Security Issues

While the hybrid model can be a cost-effective way to improve security, it can also be a serious concern if not designed properly.

The hybrid cloud has a public cloud component, which comes with unique risks that differ from the on-premise setup. (Also read: Is Your Organization Aware of These 6 Key Public Cloud Risks?)

If proper security tools and technologies are not implemented, data can be at risk with the hybrid cloud model. To protect it, organizations must ensure their entire public/private setup is protected from intrusions.

Network Latency

Again, while the hybrid cloud can also be a great tool to reduce network latency, it can also increase it if not done properly.

Transferring data to the public cloud can be an issue if your internet is slow. To avoid this, implement a backup plan to overcome latency-related issues.

Management Hurdles

Hybrid cloud management is another critical challenge.

The most important factor is to ensure consistency in multiple areas like infrastructure, operations, resources, and security. So, organizations should look for an experienced and trusted cloud partner for hybrid cloud deployment. Any management failure can cause severe damage to the business.

How to Develop a Successful Hybrid Cloud Strategy

For a cloud strategy to succeed, an organization must consider two truths:

  1. Public cloud infrastructure should not be given up entirely. In the age of digital transformation, public cloud is a must for quick business scale-up and growth.
  2. Not all data are a good fit for public cloud migration.

That's why hybrid cloud is an ideal fit: The most critical factor is proper workload management. The failure of the hybrid model is mostly caused due to poor workload planning and improper management. Enterprises should know that public cloud migration is not a simple lift and shift process. The hybrid cloud implementation journey should start when an organization is cloud matured and planning for work-load optimization.

The Best of Both Worlds...?

For a cloud strategy to succeed, an organization must consider two truths:

  1. Public cloud infrastructure should not be given up entirely. In the age of digital transformation, public cloud is a must for quick business scale-up and growth.
  2. Not all data are a good fit for public cloud migration.

That's why hybrid cloud is an ideal fit: it allows you to keep the public cloud's scalability and growth potential while housing your most sensitive data on-premise.

However, keep in mind that poor workload planning and improper management can cause even the best hybrid cloud strategies to fail. Public cloud migration is not a simple lift-and-shift process; your hybrid cloud implementation journey should start when an organization is cloud-mature and planning for workload optimization.

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Written by Kaushik Pal | Contributor

Profile Picture of Kaushik Pal

Kaushik is a technical architect and software consultant, having over 20 years of experience in software analysis, development, architecture, design, testing and training industry. He has an interest in new technology and innovation areas. He focuses on web architecture, web technologies, Java/J2EE, open source, WebRTC, big data and semantic technologies. Kaushik is also the founder of TechAlpine, a technology blog/consultancy firm based in Kolkata. The team at TechAlpine works for different clients in India and abroad. The team has expertise in Java/J2EE/open source/web/WebRTC/Hadoop/big data technologies and technical writing.

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