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Best of both worlds: Benefits of a hybrid cloud

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Neville Louzado, head of sales at Hyve Managed Hosting, dispels the myth that companies need to choose between a public and private cloud, and espouses the potential benefits of a hybrid solution.

In one form or another, digital transformation was already well underway for most businesses prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. For most, agile working was considered a luxury rather than a necessity, and moving operations into the cloud was a steady and gradual process.

That’s changed, with many businesses now accelerating their secure migration to the cloud in various ways in order to support the rapid increase in remote working.

However, despite the new sense of urgency brought about by the pandemic, it’s essential businesses maintain that same steady, careful attitude to cloud adoption in order to ensure a smooth and secure transition.

Businesses approaching this decision at breakneck speed often find themselves cornered, having to choose between a private or public cloud solution. But the choice isn’t as binary as it first seems.

A report published in 2019 by Right Scale called ‘State of the Cloud’, found that in 2019 more than 91% of businesses used a public cloud solution and 72% opted for the private cloud route.

The reason those statistics don’t quite add up is that there is an overwhelming amount of overlap between the two, with more than two-thirds of businesses opting for a hybrid cloud solution that combined the advantages of both.

Why? Because the versatility and flexibility offered by a hybrid solution is simply too good for modern businesses to pass up. Let’s start by summarising both hybrid and public cloud solutions.

The commonality of the public cloud

There’s a reason more businesses choose the public cloud over any other cloud solution. Public cloud solutions, such as those offered by Amazon, Google and IBM, allow businesses of all shapes and sizes to tap into a centralised pool of resources as and when they’re needed.

From raw processing power to optimised software, and all of the power and cooling that goes with it, organisations can simply tap into what they need as part of a subscription model that can scale with their business. It’s often the number one choice for smaller, fluid businesses that want to grow on a budget.

While the pay-as-you-go aspect of the public cloud is attractive, it does come with some potential negatives depending on an organisation’s needs.

Control over data is an obvious one, and as a knock-on effect, security can be more difficult to manage. Even though businesses are effectively outsourcing their computing, they’re still responsible for the security and integrity of their data to some extent, and usually have to meet the cloud provider halfway when it comes to things like security policies and protocols.

The pay-as-you-go model can also backfire if an organisation experiences a sudden growth spurt or a burst of high-intensity computing activity, resulting in high, unexpected invoices.

The control offered by the private cloud

The private cloud is similar to the public cloud in many ways, but is better suited to larger businesses who are willing to make a long-term investment in their computing infrastructure.

With a private cloud solution, a business might have slightly less financial flexibility, but will have dedicated computing resources that they – and only they – have access to. This results in better performance as data is not shared between other users, and tighter security and easier compliance as it is built behind a firewall.

The private cloud gives companies complete control over data and applications, which is particularly appealing to heavily regulated industries like finance.

The rigidity of fixed monthly bills also makes it easier for companies to plan budgets and forecast revenue. However, the company must be prepared to manage it extensively long-term or invest in a managed hosting provider.

The best of both worlds

Reading the above, the advantages of both a public and private cloud should become readily apparent. Most businesses faced with this decision will be asking themselves why they can’t have the advantages of one without missing out on the benefits of the other. In other words, they want to have their cake and eat it.

The good news is that this is perfectly possible, and the majority of businesses who migrate to the cloud actually use a combination of the two – a hybrid cloud solution. A hybrid cloud solution will use a combination of the public and private cloud depending on the application and use-case.

For departments or functions that require high security, such as the handling of sensitive customer data, accounting or HR, private cloud solutions can be used, allowing organisations to control the levels of security and policies around the transfer of data.

For less critical applications, such as day-to-day operations that might scale up or down from month-to-month or quarter-to-quarter, a public cloud solution will more than suffice, allowing businesses to only use what they need and save money where possible.

In this way, a hybrid cloud solution can actually eliminate most of the shortcomings associated with both private and public clouds, as they tend to cancel each other out when applied effectively.

As businesses continue to make progress towards cloud migration, particularly in light of the global pandemic, we’re likely to see an increasing number of teams tap into the flexibility, security, scalability and affordability of a hybrid cloud solution.

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