What is hybrid cloud? Strategy and benefits guide

It’s almost hard to believe that, not so long ago, IT professionals were the only ones who cared about IT infrastructure. Today, every part of the business runs on data — and that means that digital transformation has become a company-wide priority. As a result, every company’s IT infrastructure must have the scalability and flexibility to serve an ever-widening range of interests, priorities, and demands for both security and access.

When it comes to storing and processing data, there are more options than there have ever been. Many companies, particularly larger and more mature companies with a long technical legacy, still have on-premises infrastructure and physical servers. But more and more companies are increasingly moving their data storage and processing to the cloud — either on private cloud platforms or public cloud services such as AWS (Amazon Web Services) or Microsoft Azure.

Hybrid solutions have become so critical to businesses that 82% of all businesses are using a hybrid cloud infrastructure. For most companies, the question of deploying a hybrid cloud solution is not if, but when. In this article, we take a closer look at the hybrid cloud and how organizations are using it to innovate and solve problems in ways not possible with on-premises servers alone.

What is a hybrid cloud?

Hybrid cloud describes a digital environment that connects one or more public cloud environments with one or more private data environments, either on-premises servers or a private cloud platform. It encompasses both the public and private platforms as well as the other orchestration services or apps, either local or in the cloud, that are required to connect them.

What is hybrid cloud architecture?

In a hybrid cloud environment, data can be migrated between the various connected sources and access to data can be controlled. As a result, organizations can maintain their own private servers for storage, backup, compliance, or security — while simultaneously gaining access to cloud-native capabilities.

The specifications of your company’s unique architecture will depend on your hybrid cloud strategy. At minimum, it will include one public cloud component, one private cloud or on-premises component, and an orchestration component to connect the two. While orchestration can be managed locally via APIs or similar microservices, it is most often handled by a cloud service through public cloud providers such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud.

Some hybrid cloud architectures also include features such as a sandbox that provides a safe computing environment to test models and transformations before they are deployed throughout the entire system.

The most effective hybrid cloud integration solutions blend tools and services into a service-oriented architecture (SOA) where infrastructure, software, data, and other operations interact in a responsive ecosystem that is managed from a single, powerful interface.

What is hybrid cloud integration?

Hybrid cloud integration gives us the opportunity to dramatically expand our data management toolbox by balancing the familiar functionality of legacy systems with the power and adaptability of the cloud.

Hybrid cloud integration connects on-premises and local servers with private or public cloud resources in order to expand data management, storage, and processing capabilities.

What is the difference between cloud and hybrid cloud?

“Cloud” is a catch-all term that refers to anything that lives on remote servers and is accessed via the internet. We think of it most commonly in terms of cloud storage, but the cloud increasingly includes a multitude of apps and service providers as well.

Hybrid cloud computing takes advantage of the best features of both cloud services and on-premises or private cloud services.

Hybrid cloud is often confused with multi-cloud, but there is an important difference between the two. While multi-cloud describes environments that are deployed exclusively between public cloud services, hybrid cloud solutions always involve at least one private data component, either a private cloud or physical, on-premises infrastructure.

What are the benefits of hybrid cloud?

The appeal of the hybrid cloud lies in its ability to provide customizable solutions to any organization’s unique data warehousing needs. Because hybrid solutions are scalable, they offer cost-effective pathways to cloud computing without forcing companies to abandon their on-site servers or legacy systems. Data integration tools make adopting a hybrid cloud solution seamless and efficient, but there are other reasons why companies are choosing to go hybrid.

Balance

Many companies find that a hybrid cloud solution allows them to minimize risk while taking full advantage of essential cloud computing functionality. For example, with a hybrid cloud infrastructure, you can deploy or store sensitive workloads on local, on-premises servers that have the highest security. Meanwhile, less-sensitive processes can run on public cloud platforms.

That’s the beauty of hybrid cloud architecture: you maintain total ownership of your data while gaining access to all that the cloud has to offer.

Speed

For some companies, concerns over latency have convinced them to keep their data onsite. But lag is not a major concern when it comes to most modern cloud providers. The cloud infrastructure and the internet have evolved to the point where the location of data has little or no impact on delivery time. In fact, cloud solutions often offer faster processing speeds than those available with on-premises servers. This is especially true when it comes to big datasets that may be too large for an on-premises data center to process efficiently.

Ultimately a hybrid cloud solution gives you the best of all worlds. Smaller, sensitive, or more urgent workloads can be run locally, while larger and more complex jobs can be pushed to the cloud. And a hybrid cloud infrastructure provides built-in scalability, so you can call in additional cloud resources when your work calls for additional processing or temporary storage capacity.

Security

While many companies feel more confident keeping secure and sensitive data exclusive on private servers, the cloud has also demonstrated its ability to provide superior data security in many cases. Cloud providers have access to the most cutting edge security technology and expertise and are able to monitor and respond to threats quickly and effectively. Moreover, cloud providers understand that their reputations and success depend on their ability to protect your data.

In addition to day-to-day security, managed services like public cloud storage can be a life-saver in case of disaster. While on-premises servers can leave you vulnerable to total loss due to malfunction, act of god, or a critical failure, cloud options often have built-in redundancy and disaster recovery.

Compliance

In addition to the benefits of speed and cloud security, hybrid cloud also provides a solution to changing compliance regulations. Companies can retain their data on local or on-site servers and still take advantage of cloud features.

This can also simplify the never-ending task of staying up-to-date with new and updated data privacy regulations — many cloud integration solutions also automate security and privacy features to help companies remain compliant.

What is an example of a hybrid cloud use case?

The list of possible use cases for a hybrid cloud deployment is functionally endless. For example, a business such as Domino’s might capture, aggregate, and analyze data from multiple external sources and mobile devices within the cloud before migrating that data to an application running in a privately hosted environment. On the other hand, a firm such as Groupon might put its customer-facing web presence in a public cloud, but keep sensitive data in a privately hosted environment.

Here’s a quick look at how two leading companies take advantage of the interoperability of hybrid cloud to optimize business outcomes:

GE Healthcare: Complexity, compliance, and data integration

With over 1 billion annual transactions covering a wide range of sensitive healthcare information, GE Healthcare wanted to integrate multiple sources of data with an architecture that would support its existing databases. With the clock ticking on one of its legacy integration systems, GE turned to Talend to manage the modernization effort without disrupting services to patients or providers.

Through an open source, hybrid cloud solution, GE was able to increase the speed and volume of its claims processing in order to provide care quickly while maintaining compliance standards.

TD Bank Group: Reducing costs to boost customer satisfaction

To stay competitive in the rapidly changing financial industry, TD Bank Group knew they had to find ways to innovate that would improve efficiency and maintain their high standards for customer service. If they were going to meet both goals, the company would need a better strategy to manage its mountains of data.

With data being generated by internal and external sources, TD Bank Group needed a data management solution capable of collecting, processing, and migrating data between all of its databases. The answer was clear: The company needed a big data integration platform that could amplify their existing infrastructure with additional cloud services. Through hybrid cloud, TD Bank found a way forward that allowed them to reduce costs by $13 million by making the most of their data no matter where it was stored.

Hybrid cloud: What the future holds

Cloud migration is here to stay. But that doesn't mean we’ve seen the end of on-premises data management. The advantages of private data environments — not to mention the cost of replacing legacy infrastructure — are just too great. In the years to come, leading companies will lean on a wide range of data management tools to deploy custom environments that meet the needs of every part of the business.

Hybrid cloud solutions will evolve to play an even bigger role in data management in the near future. Fewer companies and organizations will rely solely on public or private clouds and the increased use of containerization will allow applications to run in any type of data architecture. Advances in machine learning and the Internet of Things will also facilitate the spread of hybrid cloud and multi-cloud solutions as companies grapple with data generated by a range of sources and devices. The result of these approaching realities is that data management is likely to become more complex, even as it continues to drive incredible data insights.

Going hybrid: Next steps

There’s never been a better time to try hybrid cloud integration. The benefits offered by the cloud — power, portability, cost-savings, and the capacity for innovation — are now available to any company, at any time, for virtually any data processing or storage task. Cloud computing resources are customizable, compatible with any type of data or legacy system, and efficient.

The main obstacle for companies and organizations seeking to explore hybrid cloud integration may be figuring out how to manage the transition. That’s where a cloud integration platform comes in. Talend Data Fabric is a real-time data management platform that provides a seamless transition between legacy, on-site, private, and public compute resources. And with hundreds of connectors, Talend helps you migrate, store, and process all your data — no matter where it comes from.

Download a free trial of Talend Data Fabric today and see how a cloud solution can bring balance to your data management strategy.

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