Hybrid cloud: is it right for your business?

The pros and cons of a growing trend


Hybrid cloud computing is getting increasing attention from IT professionals as it helps organizations find a balance between their IT infrastructure and public cloud service.

While the model enables users to leverage the benefits of both public and private clouds, advocates also claim it offers a balance of scalability and speed that makes it suited to a whole array of business needs.

We spoke to Sarah Lahav, CEO of software firm SysAid Technologies, to get the inside track on why the hybrid cloud is such a fast-growing industry trend.

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TechRadar Pro: In a nutshell what is hybrid cloud?

Sarah Lahav: Hybrid cloud is an environment that utilizes both public and private clouds. This means that you can continue to manage some resources (such as storage of data) in-house and have others provided externally. Hybrid cloud is generally a good option for those organizations that want to move to the cloud but perhaps still have concerns over data security or sensitive operations.

TRP: What's the biggest advantage to hybrid cloud?

SL: I guess a big part of it is 'piece of mind'. Many organizations still worry about security when it comes to cloud, but still want to reap the benefits of moving away from on-premise technology. Hybrid cloud is essentially a 'half-way house'.

For those companies that are not yet ready to outsource their entire IT operations into the public cloud, it can be a good introduction to the "cloud experience". For example, using hybrid cloud you could keep sensitive data in-house but rely on public cloud for things such as email. Hybrid cloud is a very flexible option.

TRP: What else is drawing organizations to hybrid cloud at the moment?

SL: Hybrid cloud offers an array of benefits such as (almost) unlimited storage space, scalability and flexibility, affordability, fast deployment etc. Hybrid cloud can also help organizations test vendors. Before committing to use a specific vendor for public cloud, you can experience their support capabilities. This can help to ensure you are happy with their cloud operations.

TRP: And are there obvious disadvantages associated with hybrid cloud?

SL: One disadvantage to hybrid cloud is also its advantage – security compliance. Whilst hybrid cloud enables you to comply with certain regulations (whilst still being able to reap the benefits of public cloud), you now have two different services to ensure you remain compliant – your public cloud and your private cloud.

Failure to do so could defeat the entire purpose of deploying hybrid cloud in the first place. There can also potentially be other issues around things such as network complexity, infrastructure dependency etc.

TRP: Who is hybrid cloud most suited to?

SL: Like with anything there is no 'one size fits all' answer. Every business is unique regardless of the industry it works in, for example what works best for one university might not necessarily work best for another.

Deciding whether to choose public, private or hybrid cloud can depend on a number of factors such as business data protection requirements, what applications you use etc. Typically hybrid cloud appeals to organizations that are strictly governed by regulatory requirements, but that do have some scope to not have to keep everything on-premise – an e-commerce organization for example – but it really does differ business to business.

TRP: Is hybrid cloud sustainable for the business?

SL: As public cloud adoption is growing fast, whilst some applications and data must stay in-house for many organizations, one can only see a healthy future for hybrid cloud.

Financial savings and the flexibility to scale based on need is going to continue to drive public cloud adoption, but whilst strict regulations for many organizations remain in place not everybody is going to be able to make the move. Nevertheless, these organizations will still require highly efficient in-house operations and a greater degree of flexibility. Therefore, their move to hybrid cloud is somewhat inevitable.

It is likely that before long on-premise solutions will struggle to meet their needs in an ever-changing business landscape, therefore, their only viable option (as things stand) will be hybrid cloud.