Cloud computing is a must have for any business today. But within this space, there are many decisions to be made about how you'll deploy this technology. And one of the first - and most consequential - is what platform strategy you intend to use.
Do you opt for a public cloud provider, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure? Public cloud services offers a range of benefits, including ease of use, scalability and lower costs, but you'll usually have to compromise on customizations and control, as you'll be sharing resources with other users. Private cloud, on the other hand, lets you build a secure system that's tailored to your exact needs and is reserved for your use alone, but it's more expensive and requires more internal resources to maintain and upgrade.
That's why, for some cases, the best solution may be a hybrid cloud strategy. A hybrid cloud architecture promises to offer the best of both worlds while minimizing the disadvantages. According to Flexera's 2022 State of the Cloud Report, four out of five businesses (80%) are now pursuing a hybrid cloud model that combines public and private capabilities.
What’s more, a study conducted by Insights for Professionals identified that nearly two-thirds (64%) of CIOs operate a hybrid cloud model.
However, hybrid cloud solutions may not be suitable for every occasion. So when should you be using this approach in order to get the most out of the technology?
Hybrid cloud use cases
Here are five use cases that could improve your business outcomes:
1. Disaster recovery
One of the main use cases for hybrid cloud is to improve firms' disaster recovery (DR) capabilities. Hybrid cloud architecture offers a cost-effective option for backing up existing enterprise applications and data, especially when compared with traditional private cloud backup solutions. Hybrid cloud environments remove the need to provision additional off-site data centers and all the associated expenses within this.
Setting up systems to move over to public cloud services if a private data center fails, or deploying load balancers that can automatically distribute traffic between private and public environments as required, also ensures high availability of critical applications.
In a 'warm DR' environment, data can be replicated to the public cloud, but other resources remain non-operational until needed. Therefore, should an outage occur, administrators can quickly spin up the application in the cloud as the data is already present.
2. Cloud bursting
The nature of the hybrid cloud makes it ideal for cloud bursting activities. This involves situations when workloads that would normally take place on-premises are spilled over to cloud resources when increases in demand outpace the capacity offered by standard resources. These are usually intended for temporary spikes in traffic - such as seasonal sales for retailers or major news events that impact customer activity, for example - where volumes are expected to return to normal within a relatively short period.
Public cloud solutions are much more able to cope with this type of scalability than private alternatives, so building solutions that can automatically roll excess demand over to public tools ensures business continuity at busy periods, in turn leading to more satisfied customers and higher revenue.
However, it can be challenging to set up. You need secure, low-latency connections between private and public cloud to avoid any issues that can impact performance or user privacy.
3. Development and testing
Being able to test new applications or workloads in a limited environment before full deployment across an enterprise is essential to success, and a hybrid cloud model allows firms to do this quickly and cheaply. This enables users to run tests on a range of configurations or compare different approaches to determine what the best solution might be or where any weaknesses or vulnerabilities lie.
Hybrid cloud deployments enable businesses to embrace the philosophy of 'fail fast' and do so without spending large amounts of money, while it’s also easy to make changes. Teams can quickly deploy the exact amount of resources they need to do this and access more cloud-based services than would be possible when going it alone.
4. Compliance for mixed data sets
Finding the right balance between performance, cost and security is never easy, but in an era where businesses must meet strict compliance rules relating to customer privacy, it's more important than ever to get this right. Traditional cloud deployments can make this hard to achieve, especially when you're dealing with data sets such as personally identifiable information, as there are often strong regulations surrounding the storage and processing of this.
For example, some jurisdictions place rules on data residency that restrict the use of public clouds. This can be a challenge for businesses working with large volumes of data, where some may be subject to different privacy standards than others. However, hybrid cloud infrastructure can ease these concerns by enabling public services where available for certain data and workloads, while maintaining more secure private capabilities when compliance rules demand it.
5. Partial upgrades
One of the key challenges for many digital transformations is what to do about legacy applications that may not be suitable for a migration to public cloud services. In many cases, pre-existing customized software may not be easily shifted to the public cloud without significant reengineering or loss of functionality.
Being able to move these to private cloud environments offers more agility than traditional solutions, while ensuring that all features of legacy deployments remain intact. At the same time, the use of public cloud services can still be used where possible to provide more modern, scalable solutions.