Cloud computing is no longer an outlier: According to Beta News, 95 percent of survey respondents said they’re using some form of the cloud. However, it’s worth noting that while 18 percent of companies rely on public services alone and just six percent use all-private solutions, the lion’s share — 71 percent — prefer hybrid cloud communications environments.
What’s the real deal with going hybrid? Do you end up with the best of both worlds — a centaur with strength of draft horses combined with human cognitive capacity, or some kind of cobbled-together creation that amounts to a wobbly horse head driven by tiny human stick legs? Here’s what you need to know:
Crashing the Party: Public, Private, and Hybrid Clouds
Public clouds are typically used for public-facing applications that need room to stretch in response to resource or traffic demands. They’re also ideal for smaller companies that don’t have the on-hand capital to spend on local hardware or those that love jumping on tech bandwagons to get their “I’m with cloud” T-shirt.
Private clouds, meanwhile, are excellent for consumer or corporate data privacy, while also giving IT professionals total control over their computing environment. Think of private clouds as the hipsters of up-and-coming tech — they’re solidly put together, but require a lot of upkeep and maintenance to keep running.
Hybrid promises both the sizzle and the steak — public scaling and private control — to provide a combination of flexibility and firm network boundaries. It’s also a middle ground between the cost scale of public vs. private options. Ultimately, hybrid looks to balance the benefits of outsourcing and in-house talent to create an adaptable best fit for organizations.
Do Me a Flavor…
While there’s no single way to use the hybrid cloud, a number of popular “flavors” have emerged, including the following:
- Adaptable Apps: This is one of the most popular hybrid types. Organizations keep critical data close to their chest on private clouds but use public clouds to build out and scale up customer-facing apps.
- Do-It-Yourself Duplication: Another hybrid cloud option sees IT departments creating duplicates of private stacks on public clouds and then linking the two with a secure connection.
- Moving to Multicloud: Hybrid deployments also support the move to multicloud architecture, which has emerged as companies look to tap multiple public providers for specific services. Private clouds keep critical data grounded and provide a central link for various cloud services.
- On-Premises Public Performance: Large-scale cloud providers are also looking for ways to move the public cloud into the private space by offering on-premises versions of public cloud offerings. The advantage here? Total control over scalability and performance. The downside? Big bucks to buy in.
What’s the biggest barrier to cloud adoption? The easy answer is worry over granular control of data, but according to ZDNet, it’s more than that. Ultimately, the task of integrating and migrating legacy systems becomes a huge headache for many companies that try to tap into cloud communications or leverage scalable environments.
It’s here that hybrid cloud solutions really shine: By linking private stacks with third-party offerings, it’s possible to keep many legacy systems in place and link them to public services only where it makes sense. In effect, going hybrid lets incompatible legacy solutions age out in place, rather than trying to shoehorn them into cloud deployments or retire them before the business can fully absorb their loss.
It’s worth noting, however, that even hybrid migrations don’t happen in a vacuum. Companies must be prepared to tackle the gap between public and private services — the potentially confusing interplay along the edge of multiple service types, where apps may not work as intended and performance may be hard to measure. Overcoming this challenge means enlisting the help of an experienced cloud provider with a track record of providing reliable public services while also respecting the bounds of private networks.
This type of cloud migration partnership is especially important for companies making their first foray into the cloud. The right partner can not only provide necessary hardware and diverse service catalogs but also act as an IT consultant to suggest ideal migration strategies and ways to minimize the impact of new systems on existing architecture.
The bottom line? Hybrid clouds are on the rise as a way to tap the flexibility of public models and the control of private stacks. However, with multiple flavors and the need to integrate legacy apps while simultaneously leveraging new services, finding the right combination of variety and vendor is ideal to maximize hybrid cloud communication benefits.
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