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Is a hybrid cloud model right for you?

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By Arthur Nichols

Cloud adoption is happening rapidly across the business world, whether IT leadership advocates it or not. While many businesses are jumping in head first and learning to swim after the fact, IT leadership going against the grain stands to get left behind.  The only viable option left for IT is to lead the way into the cloud. For those who remain reluctant, the hybrid cloud model offers a way to ease into this brave new world.

hybrid cloud computingSince the term “hybrid cloud” still seems to be ambiguous for many, it is important to have a clear description in place for the sake of discussion. According to Brocade, “A hybrid cloud is the intermixing of private and public cloud infrastructures, with private clouds typically confined to an enterprise’s data centers and public clouds being offered by service providers.”

(Related: What is hybrid cloud?)

Half In/Half Out

One benefit of the hybrid model is that it allows you to utilize your existing infrastructure. Many companies have already invested much, not only in hardware and licensed software but also in talented and experienced IT personnel who have managed to develop a stable private cloud. These things don’t necessarily need to be washed away in the public cloud tide.

Though migration to the cloud may be inevitable for competitive businesses in the next decade, this does not necessarily mean that the best cost-benefit balance will be found by operating entirely in a private or public cloud. Having an infrastructure that is some mixture of private and public cloud resources offers a dynamic approach to finding a balance best suited to the individual enterprise.

More control over security

The private cloud element in the hybrid model is secured and protected internally. The sensitivity of an enterprise’s data is at their discretion to determine, but it is a good practice to have mission-critical applications and data internally controlled. At the same time, less sensitive and mission-critical elements can be handled in public cloud resources with minimal risk to the enterprise. On the downside, any networking between the private and public clouds needs careful consideration.

This is where the importance of the Service Level Agreement (SLA) comes into play. Where favoring a hybrid cloud supports a higher degree of control over the enterprise’s IT, the SLA specifically defines that level of control and gives a clearer idea of what to expect. For those to whom security and control are of great importance, the SLA needs be congruent with the policies and needs of the business so that the private and public cloud can work in harmony.

(Related: Four benefits of hybrid cloud computing)

Scalability

Perhaps the biggest draw to a hybrid structure for an enterprise that already has a private cloud, or even just the assets for it, is that it offers the scalability to adapt to the growing computing needs of the business via the public cloud element. When the enterprise’s private resources are no longer large enough to handle demands, making use of public resources becomes a good option. In the case of computing, the public cloud offers the most cost-effective approach.

As technology in general advances at an increasing rate, one cannot overstate the importance of being able to adapt and take advantage of the change. However, enterprise leadership may forget that when a technological advancement comes along promising to cut costs and boost profits, it is not necessarily best to try to make that a vehicle for the entire business. Even in countries like China that have invested and will invest heavily in public cloud computing, businesses tend to favor the hybrid approach in the face of the cloud’s security and reliability concerns. Though it can be reasonably expected that public cloud vendors will expend sufficient resources to ease and eventually perhaps squash these concerns, a hybrid approach to the cloud offers the benefits with manageability over the possible detriments.

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