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What is hybrid cloud?

Hybrid cloud has become a commonly accepted solution for organizations that want multiple options for storing and accessing their data, from hardware right in the office to vast public cloud services — and everything in between. If you’re interested in taking advantage of a hybrid cloud approach to data security, here’s everything you need to know.

What is hybrid cloud?

Microsoft Azure diagram.
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Hybrid cloud refers to a mixed approach where an organization keeps some information and apps on a local private network (sometimes called a private cloud) and other types of data on a broad public cloud, like Google Drive or Dropbox, etc.

This allows companies to choose which applications they keep in a more private, secure settings, and what data they can shift to a more versatile public cloud. This allows for many different kinds of setups based on what a specific organization needs: That could mean keeping some data on internal servers, using certain business-oriented private services offered by cloud companies (like Microsoft Azure), offering safe data on a public cloud for easy collaboration, sharing info with customers, etc. It means looking at specific data or apps, and choosing the best place to host them no matter what it is.

Examples of hybrid cloud

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Example 1: A small business is experiencing fast growth and is hiring new remote employees to scale up its capabilities. While the company is comfortable using its on-premises computer storage for managing accounting and similar tasks, it doesn’t have the resources to purchase and manage servers. To handle new growth, the business keeps accounting and other financial processes on local systems, but moves marketing and customer content to a public cloud, making the expansion easier.

Example 2: An app development company is ready to migrate an app to the public cloud to support widespread access for customers around the world. However, the app needs a full design overhaul and multiple bug fixes before it’s ready to go public. For now, the developer keeps the app on its private cloud while the changes are implemented. This allows the developer to successfully test the app in-house to make sure it’s ready, with a clear timeline to release it to the public cloud.

Example 3: A large retail company is setting up a new, interactive kiosk at the center of one of its departments. However, that kiosk needs a Wi-Fi connection to operate, and has limited onboard memory. The kiosk needs a way to offer its features without creating any latency issues in either case. The retail company chooses to split how the features operate, having some features powered by the cloud through the Wi-Fi connection, and others managed locally using the kiosks hardware. This way neither option is overloaded.

Benefits of the hybrid cloud

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  • Adaptable access control: The mix-and-match approach of the hybrid cloud allows organizations to maintain security and privacy standards based on the type of data. That makes it simple to guarantee security for more sensitive data while making other data or apps much easier to access. That also helps organizations meet any security or privacy regulations they have to follow for certain types of information.
  • Choosing the best approach for each task or workload: Some workloads work better on more private or in-house infrastructure, while others benefit more from being worked on in the public cloud. This is especially true now that remote work has become so much more common in many industries. Businesses can choose where to handle tasks based on what employees need to work on them, what formats must be supported, and how complex they are.
  • Cost savings: The hybrid cloud has plenty of potential efficiencies that can reduce costs. It can help reduce the costs of managing an in-house data center, offering more affordable solutions than purchasing more local storage. The targeted nature of the hybrid cloud means that businesses can find the most cost-effective way to manage different types of data.
  • Effective transitions: Many organizations may be interested in moving certain operations onto the cloud, but they aren’t quite ready yet. The hybrid cloud allows organizations to move into the cloud at a pace they are comfortable with, while keeping other processes local until they are ready for the transition as well.
  • More adaptable solutions: As with our kiosk example above, an organization can choose the right mix of cloud and infrastructure for each solution. That can include an office-wide upgrade to new computer systems, adopting a new phone system, setting up a stall, or opening a second location.

What is the difference between cloud and hybrid cloud?

The cloud traditionally refers to only storage and services offered by off-site servers and vendors. The hybrid cloud uses this, but also uses storage and services managed on the premises. That can include on-site infrastructure that isn’t technically associated with the cloud at all, as well as in-between data solutions like private clouds which aren’t fully public, but still use off-site services.

Is hybrid cloud the same thing as multicloud?

No. Multicloud refers to using multiple types of public clouds to get work done. For example, a company may choose to use Google Drive to enable remote work situations, while relying on Dropbox to hold the company’s collection of long-term images and video. Multicloud allows organizations to target specific public clouds based on compatibility or specialties, although this setup is more complex and often more expensive.

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Tyler Lacoma
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