Many organizations want to combine the two major types of cloud into one combined system. The resulting infrastructure, called a hybrid cloud, allows businesses to process and store more sensitive data within a private cloud environment, while benefiting from the performance and cost-effectiveness of the public cloud for data that is less vulnerable. TechRadar recently spoke with Sarah Lahav, CEO of Software as a Service company SysAid Technologies, about the advantages and disadvantages of the hybrid cloud.
Below is an overview of the discussion, enhanced by statistical highlights and other information from additional sources.
What is the Hybrid Cloud?
Lahav explained that by combining public and private clouds, a hybrid infrastructure allows organizations not just to treat data differently (based on its level of sensitivity) but to manage some resources on-premise and some through a hosting service, if desired (although hosting services can be used for both the public and private components). She also mentioned that the hybrid model is well-suited to companies that are interested in transitioning to the cloud but are unsure about its security capabilities.
The hybrid cloud is not just a popular topic among cloud service providers but is widely expected to be the accepted IT system of the future. In fact, a major market research company forecast last year that half of large enterprises will have hybrid clouds employed by 2017. The prediction is the subject of an investigative study compiled by Thomas Bittman and published by Gartner on October 1, 2013. Bittman determined that almost 50% of large enterprises are currently running private clouds, with a total of 89% expected to have one operating by the end of 2014.
What is the Hybrid Cloud’s Greatest Benefit?
When asked for the strongest advantage of a hybrid architecture, Lahav noted that the hybrid cloud is a “halfway house”: it allows organizations to migrate some of their data to a public cloud system while keeping their mission-critical data in private setups (either on-site or through third-party hosting providers).
Lahav reiterated that the hybrid cloud works well when companies are not prepared to use the public cloud for all their computing systems. Any sensitive data such as login information, customer account details, and proprietary code can be contained within a private cloud, while the public cloud is used for email and other less sensitive data. Lahav recommended the hybrid model specifically for its flexibility.
What is Its Biggest Disadvantage?
If you are in an organization that requires security compliance, meeting guidelines can become more complicated when the hybrid model is used. You can segregate your data within a hybrid system so that the sensitive information that must meet compliance parameters is sequestered in the private cloud portion, meeting whatever compliance parameters you need. However, if you’re concerned with meeting security guidelines for all of your hybrid cloud data, the process can be trickier since you are dealing with a more complex system, said Lahav.
What Other Factors Attract Companies to the Hybrid Cloud?
Lahav mentioned that there are a spectrum of reasons why the hybrid cloud is chosen by so many organizations: it offers an almost infinite storage capacity, is designed to scale quickly and seamlessly, can be customized for whatever needs, can be deployed much faster than legacy systems, and is cost-effective. She also noted that using a new vendor as part of a hybrid cloud on a trial basis – essentially connecting one part of your system to their service for testing purposes – gives you an opportunity to experience the provider’s technical support.
Technical support is often lacking with cloud providers, according to a report on June 24, 2014, by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA). The report, based on a survey of 415 IT executives in the US, Europe, and Asia Pacific, revealed that support is the biggest complaint of American cloud users, while performance was listed as the biggest downside by users in other regions.
Performance was not limited as an issue to countries outside the United States, though. The statistics on performance were significantly stronger for those customers who used a VMware system – a standard virtualization software used by hosting companies – than for those using three major public clouds. When customers were asked if they had experienced failures or stalling, the statistics were as follows:
- Amazon Web Services – 57%
- Microsoft Azure – 56%
- Rackspace – 63%
Clearly from the experience of these 400 IT professionals, it’s far more reliable to connect to a cloud created with independent virtualization software – properly configured and monitored by a cloud service provider – than it is to use one of the prominent public cloud systems.
No More Confusion
One of the other top complaints of cloud providers was related to lack of clarity: 38% of customers worldwide said they didn’t feel completely clear on pricing. The dearth of support creates additional confusion for many: poor support contracts “often take customers by surprise,” said the EMA paper. For your hybrid cloud, choose a vendor that takes the confusion out of the cloud: Superb Internet.
By Kent Roberts
Image Credit: Virtualization Practice