The idea behind a hybrid cloud strategy is simple – employ the best of three worlds to develop an infrastructural setup that enables digital transformation.
In less jargon-filled terms, that means finding the right combination of private and public cloud services, along with on-site infrastructure for your work environment. It’s a popular approach. As of 2022, 80% of businesses have either moved to or are in the process of moving to the hybrid cloud model.
The question you face is should you follow in the footsteps of that enormous herd of businesses moving toward the hybrid cloud waters?
Why a Hybrid Cloud Strategy Is Right for Your Business
Reason 1 – Improved Data Security
Improving data security is a benefit of a hybrid cloud strategy that has existed for almost as long as cloud technology. Public cloud tech excels in this area, with recovery and backing up of enterprise data existing in everything from Dropbox to IBM’s Cloud File Storage service.
Choice is the main benefit here.
If you prefer, you can have on-site technicians using cloud-based tools to manage your data security. They’ll handle the manual processes of backing up your data while relying on (and researching) the encryption tools offered by their service of choice.
But many choose third-party managed service providers to facilitate their hybrid cloud models. These providers take the manual work of your in-house team’s collective place, in addition to ensuring you store data in a compliant way. For instance, medical data is often subject to HIPPA protocols, and the appropriate cloud storage solution, coupled with the right provider, ensures those protocols are followed.
Reason 2 – Increased Flexibility
Why not stick with private cloud services, with a little on-site infrastructure thrown into the mix?
The answer is that private cloud services often aren’t as flexible as your team needs them to be, especially if they’re looking to do something the private service can’t do. It’s like getting stuck inside an organization’s existing processes. Only instead of a simple process change, your people have to work within strict rules that require costly development work to override.
Adding additional resources via public cloud services gives your people the ability to call on other processes as and when needed. And there are advantages for a company’s bottom line, too. A change to your private cloud system may carry a heavy upfront cost, made worse by the amount you spend on maintenance. Introducing a public cloud service into the mix, one managed and maintained by somebody else, allows you to leverage term or subscription billing to keep costs low. Plus, you get the option of terminating the public cloud service agreement when you don’t need it anymore.
Reason 3 – Get Around Vendor Lock-In
Imagine that you worked with a single vendor to create your private cloud solution. They ended up creating a proprietary solution unique to your business, which is great for accomplishing what you need to get done.
But what happens if you need to make changes to that solution?
Every tweak has to go through the original provider or it simply won’t happen. The same goes for every bug fix, any questions you may have, and improvements to the solution’s user interface. Again, that may not be a problem if you have a good relationship with the vendor. But you’re also locked into a point where you have no other recourse if the vendor increases prices or your relationship becomes frayed.
The hybrid cloud model helps you avoid that locked-in situation.
By introducing some public cloud services into your infrastructure, you don’t have to go back to your vendor whenever you need a new feature. Again, you get choice. And a 2019 Fujitsu survey found that avoiding vendor lock-in is one of the main reasons for the shift to the hybrid model in about 80% of cases.
Reason 4 – Create Uniformity
Uniformity can be one of the biggest downsides of the hybrid model.
Imagine you have standardized on-site practices, along with a private cloud service that meets those practices, and you want to introduce a public cloud service. You may end up feeling like you’re trying to bolt that public service onto what already exists, rather than integrating it. A cobbled-together solution results. You’re left simply hoping that the patchwork of public and private functions well enough.
But if uniformity is such a potential hurdle, how can it be listed as a benefit?
The answer is that major public cloud providers recognize the problem and have taken active steps to solve it. You’ll see this in examples like the Microsoft Azure Stack, which makes it easier to deploy cloud-based services into your on-site systems. VMWare Cloud is further proof of this changing attitude. Built on Amazon’s AWS cloud, the partnership means any of your on-site VMWare needs to mesh well with Amazon’s cloud services.
It’s not a perfect situation.
You have to put time into finding a public cloud provider that aligns with the systems you want to keep. But the fact that so many providers have identified the issue and are trying to correct it means a properly-managed hybrid cloud system can help you to create uniformity inside your company.
Is the Hybrid Cloud Model Right for You?
The hybrid cloud model isn’t for everyone.
Dependencies on legacy systems mean you may face issues with staff who don’t want to change from the way things are always done, especially if those old ways seem to be working. Combine that with culture clashes (some people struggle to adapt to new tech), and you have to put work into demonstrating the reasoning behind moving to the hybrid model.
Failure to do that leads to failure to adopt.
Then, you have implementation issues to consider. Misconfigurations within the model can create cybersecurity vulnerabilities that those who find those misconfigurations can exploit, for instance. And ongoing maintenance of the model can be a challenge, especially where governance is concerned.
But for all of these downsides, the majority of businesses still want to shift to the hybrid cloud model. It’s more flexible, can often cost less, and confronts vendor lock-in situations that leave your business reliant on a single provider.