Most businesses now rely on cloud to support their day-to-day operations. However – after hastily migrating workloads to the cloud in the depths of the pandemic – many are also looking for a smarter way to configure and use this technology. It’s no surprise then, that the popularity of hybrid cloud is exploding. This global market is forecast to triple in value from 2020 to 2026, rising from $52 to $145 billion.
But what exactly is hybrid cloud? In layman’s terms, this phrase refers to any solutions that combine private storage infrastructure with public cloud services. Some hybrid cloud solutions may also be ‘multi cloud’, which refers to the use of multiple public cloud providers.
So, what’s all the fuss about? And why are IT leaders racing to implement hybrid cloud solutions? Let’s find out.
Hybrid cloud is often referred to as the ‘best of both worlds’. Why? Because it enables businesses to select storage – whether on-premises, from hyperscalers or local cloud providers – that matches the performance requirements of specific workloads.
This is probably the single greatest advantage of hybrid cloud. Its inherent flexibility enables IT teams to prepare for all eventualities. For instance, when unexpected demand spikes happen, teams can easily procure additional public cloud capacity for dynamic, short-term workloads. Meanwhile, more static long-term workloads can be stored on-premises. This enables businesses to keep their cloud infrastructure lean, without either running out of capacity or acquiring expensive, rarely used excess capacity.
2. Vendor lock-in
Vendor lock-in – a phrase guaranteed to make CIOs everywhere shudder. When organisations become reliant on a single public cloud provider, high exit costs, interruptions to IT operations and a lack of relevant in-house skills can make it difficult to take their business elsewhere. As a result, they can become ‘stuck’ with an inferior vendor, compromising on service quality, product offering, cost and more.
Hybrid cloud removes this eventuality. It gives businesses the freedom to develop and refine their cloud solution, whether their requirements change suddenly overnight – as with the pandemic – or evolve gradually over time.
3. Data sovereignty
Data sovereignty – the legal principle that says digital data is subject to the laws of the country in which it’s processed – is a growing concern for businesses across Europe and beyond. It’s a key consideration for businesses that use public cloud providers – particularly the hyperscalers.
Let’s take the example of an EU business using a US cloud service provider. In this instance, any data processed by the US cloud service provider is subject to the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act. This law enables US authorities to apply to have data belonging to the EU business handed over to them, even if the data in question is stored within the borders of another country. This happens surprisingly frequently. In the six months between January and June 2021, Microsoft alone received 101 warrants from US law enforcement seeking consumer content data stored outside the US. Such requests can conflict with GDPR, which clearly states that cloud service providers must commit to only disclosing personal data based on legal requests made under EU law.
Sounds complex, right? It certainly is. But a hybrid, multi-cloud strategy can be the best way to navigate this tricky compliance landscape. Hybrid cloud enables business to store personal data on-premises or with regional cloud storage providers operating within specific national borders. Meanwhile, they can still use large public cloud providers for other functions, like testing, development, big data analytics and more.
4. Cost efficiency
Rising salaries, growing user demands, supply chain disruption and skyrocketing energy costs are squeezing IT budgets. So, it’s no surprise that many CIOs are turning to hybrid cloud solutions to make savings.
Why? Because hybrid cloud enables them to benefit from the speed and scalability of public cloud for unpredictable, short-term workloads. Meanwhile, they can opt for lower-cost on-premises storage, like object or tape, to handle more long-term workloads.
5. The rise of ‘as a service’
Thanks to the rise of ‘as a service’ offerings, we’re seeing a seismic shift in how businesses procure and use cloud. More are integrating IaaS (cloud infrastructure made available as a service), PaaS (software platforms provided via the Internet as a service) and SaaS (software delivered as a cloud service) solutions into a hybrid cloud environment. This both releases businesses from the burden of running their own data centre and gives IT leaders the freedom and flexibility to customise solutions to their needs.
The bottom line? No on-premises storage or single cloud provider will meet organisations’ constantly evolving needs in the long term. Opting for a hybrid cloud solution that’s tailor-made to meet complex performance, cost and compliance demands is a no-brainer – and will be top of the agenda for CIOs in 2022 and beyond.