What is the Hybrid Cloud and How Can it Help Your Business?

By Lisa Gecko

Many companies are running on virtual networks that feature cloud computing. Cloud-based virtual networks offer a cost-effective way to have a high-performance and high-availability network that is independent of the underlying physical hardware, and they make it possible to increase capacity or add capabilities on the fly without the cost of expensive infrastructure upgrades, technical support training, or additional software licensing. Cloud computing manages computing needs through a subscription or pay-per-use service, so businesses can match their computing needs with their resources. Capacity can be increased along with business needs, and mission critical processing can be prioritized in the network.

A new type of cloud based virtual network is known as a hybrid cloud. A hybrid cloud integrates both a private, in-house network and public network. Hybrid clouds are usually formed in two ways: a business has a private cloud and forms a partnership with a public cloud provider, or a public cloud provider forms a partnership with a business that already runs a private cloud platform.

A hybrid cloud is a cloud computing environment in which an organization provides and manages some resources in-house and has others provided externally. For example, an organization might use a public cloud service for a specific need such as placing applications in the public cloud that are not cost effective to deploy in their private network, or that they do not have the skills to deploy. Other organizations may have a data center that is running out of power or space and they want to focus finite resources on business critical applications. The hybrid approach allows a business to take advantage of the scalability and cost-effectiveness that a public cloud computing environment offers without exposing in-house applications and data to public vulnerabilities. This type of cloud computing is also referred to as hybrid IT.

Another advantage of a hybrid cloud is it allows organizations to maintain a centralized governance of IT resources while taking advantage of cloud computing services where needed.

There are several forces driving the adoption of a hybrid cloud: an enterprise’s need to maintain control of data, the cost effectiveness of cloud-based services such as virtual software and storage, and the ability of hybrid networks to respond as quickly as possible to rapidly changing business needs.

Organizations can utilize hybrid clouds in order to achieve a variety of goals. Hybrid clouds provide a way to experience the advantages of public cloud computing where needed without completely abandoning the benefits of a private network. Specific network infrastructure can be out-sourced to a public cloud environment, while the remainder of the network can be managed and maintained on premise.

Hybrid clouds also allow an organization to mix and match resources between local infrastructure, which is typically paid for but difficult to scale, with a virtual infrastructure that’s scalable and can respond to changing demand. A company can also share applications and data between platforms without users even being aware.

For many organizations, the use of hybrid computing provides the best of both worlds. Considering the complexities of compliance issues, performance requirements, and security needs, some local governance of IT resources is desirable. At the same time, a hybrid cloud allows businesses to experience the numerous advantages that public cloud computing offers without the risk of completely shutting down their in-house network.