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October 25, 2019

The Benefits of Hybrid Cloud: Fence-Sitting, or Best of Both Worlds?

"Fault tolerance, accessibility, security..."

By CBR Staff Writer

What are the benefits of hybrid cloud? To its advocates, it’s the best of both worlds: the flexibility, future-proofing and fire-power of the public cloud, with the ability to keep sensitive data or deeply entrenched applications running on on-premises hardware and software.

IBM, of course, has gone all-in on hybrid cloud with its $34 billion Red Hat acquisition, while Google Cloud has also claims to be “the hybrid cloud leader”. The sweet spot for hybrid cloud’s advocates: user-friendly service provisioning across architecture of your choice.

See also: Swisscom Dumps Mainframes for Private Cloud – Cuts IT Costs 60%

(Many workloads or applications simply can’t migrate to the cloud without the kind of upheaval or expense few are willing to consider, although mainframe-based applications being switched over to x86-based private clouds are not totally impossible…)

The Benefits of Hybrid Cloud

To many, the benefits of hybrid cloud include avoiding regulatory headaches, e.g. the requirements of GDPR.

As Camilla Winlo, from data management consultancy DQM GRC told us: “Hybrid clouds provide the fault tolerance and accessibility of public clouds combined with the security and performance of private clouds. Article 32 of the GDPR states organisations are required to have ‘appropriate’ technical measures in place to protect personal data. The use of hybrid clouds may help demonstrate that proper consideration has been given.”

The benefits of a hybrid cloud architecture can also be technical.

Run a Database Across Multiple Platforms

As Patrick Callaghan, enterprise architect at DataStax notes to Computer Business Review: “Hybrid cloud services can work well at the data layer, where you use a database that can run across multiple platforms independently of whether they are internal, public or private cloud.

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“For example, you may be running VMware and looking at Azure – you would have to look at a database that can run across those two platforms independently. The alternative is to invest in large ETL pipelines, which affects how you scale and run a service over time.”

He takes a moment to plug the open source distributed database, Cassandra, which DataStax offers a managed service in, noting: “Open source projects like Apache Cassandra can run in real “cross-cloud” environments, supporting hybrid or multi-cloud deployments.

“This independence from specific cloud services or product offerings helps companies remain in charge of their IT strategy and avoid lock-in.”

Thanks, Kubernetes

In large part behind the rise in appreciation for hybrid cloud (as opposed to just clearly demarcated public cloud for X application and staying firmly on premises for Y application) is the rise of Kubernetes, the Google-developed open source container orchestration platform.

By spinning up application components in containers (a standard way to package your app code, configurations, and dependencies into a single object) then orchestrating them through “K8s”, applications can be run unmodified, on existing on-prem hardware investments or in the public cloud.

By doing this (and every notable cloud provider offers support to help make it happen) users can connect on-premises and cloud resources through a common network to create a single enterprise environment.

Current trends seem to indicate that many businesses are seeing the advantage of this type of set-up. Last year Dave Bartoletti, principal analyst at Forrester noted that its research found that 74 percent of enterprise are opting for a hybrid/multi-cloud solution to their operations and data management.

Juan Perez-Etchegoyen, CTO of Onapsis told us that when it comes to the applications that a business will decide to keep running in its on-premises cloud: “It depends on the business process that is supported, for example if we talk about travel and expenses, there isn’t an extensive need for changing that business process, therefore a SaaS solution through its standard processes and workflows might be a good fit.

“Other processes such as finance, manufacturing, sales or supply chain might require additional customisations to match the organisational complexity, especially on the large enterprise sector, therefore an on premise system might work better.”

The advantages of cloud computing are clear, but firms are wary of moving everything onto “someone else”‘s infrastructure.  Yet this doesn’t mean they can’t get the benefits of hybrid cloud: for many businesses, it’s less a halfway step; more of a convenient middle ground.

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