Hybrid Cloud: How it Works, Pros and Cons, When to Use It

Lenley Hensarling
Chief Product Officer
June 1, 2021|4 min read

Over the last year, many organizations have accelerated digital transformation adoption and have migrated to the cloud to increase operational efficiencies. According to Gartner, 75% of all databases will be deployed or migrated to the cloud by next year, a significant shift in a nearly $50 billion database market.

The cloud’s ability to scale up and down based on business demands leads to cost efficiencies. But this comes at a cost that many organizations don’t realize. They are learning that when they aren’t able to match infrastructure and software spend with variable workloads, they pay a premium. This is one reason why hybrid cloud deployments are on the rise, as enterprises seek the control, speed, security, and cost benefits it provides.Let’s take a look at how hybrid cloud works, its advantages and disadvantages, and when enterprises should use this model.

How does hybrid cloud work?

Hybrid cloud describes the combination of on-premises data center assets managed as a private cloud with public cloud resources. Some consider a true hybrid cloud to be one that combines resources for the same application from the private cloud and the public cloud. For global organizations with dispersed locations, geography may play a part when selecting cloud vendors, not an ideal scenario if there’s an outage. In this instance, companies can save themselves with intercloud applications – a network of clouds linked with each other. Should a primary server fail, failover servers act as a catch-all that can take over the main machine’s operations.

In financial services, having a plan to failover or run across multiple clouds is becoming a regulatory mandate, particularly in the European Union. Hybrid takes on a new meaning as this evolves. Clouds can fail, but critical applications at a national and global level must remain functional.

Benefits and drawbacks of hybrid cloud

An essential benefit of the public cloud is the elastic resource consumption that it supports. Where some workloads vary seasonally, as in the retail industry, or where they vary intraday, the ability to tailor the consumption of compute, network, and storage resources to the business’s pace can represent savings. Even applications usually based on-premises can “burst” to the cloud when data center resources are exceeded.When it comes to cost, there are several key areas with hybrid cloud to pay attention to:

  • Egress costs. These happen from cloud to on-prem, between clouds, and there are even charges when moving data between zones and regions. Careful design can minimize these costs. Suppose an enterprise starts moving workloads to the cloud and reaches back to the data center without thinking carefully about architecture and design. In that case, they can experience high egress costs and poor performance. The key is to consider the effects of where they put specific parts of an application and where the data is being moved to and from.

  • The myth that everything is cheaper in the cloud. The cloud indeed supports variable or elastic resource consumption. Still, if an enterprise has stable workloads, it is often significantly more affordable to run them in a colocation center — private cloud or on-prem.

  • Carefully balance organizational needs for resiliency and high availability with the costs of moving data around.

When to use hybrid cloud

The simple answer is when it’s necessary. Does the enterprise have systems that are on-premises that they can’t easily move to the cloud? Are they on a digital transformation journey where they are creating new systems of engagement or seizing opportunities around IoT that require greater elasticity, but they must replicate information to back-office systems for their financials? Do they have availability goals or requirements that warrant twinning systems across cloud vendors or between their data centers and the cloud for redundancy and separation of risk for failover?

Differing cloud environments serve different purposes, and business requirements typically drive the use of one versus another. Splitting workloads across the data center and cloud or between cloud vendors adds complexity. Enterprises must map out their goals and confirm what they want to achieve, at what cost, and for what benefit.

As enterprises become increasingly informed about vendor options and the requirements for 24/7/365 uptime that digital business demands, hybrid, multi-cloud, and intercloud options will continue to grow. Companies can avoid lock-in and optimize their workloads by understanding which vendors have the most beneficial support for different workloads. New tools are emerging to manage a virtual or synthetic mega cloud, composed of a company’s data centers and the major cloud vendors. A compute platform that spans cloud vendors means that cloud-neutral infrastructure, such as a data platform like Aerospike and application frameworks, becomes more critical.

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