Hybrid Cloud - the logical pathway to Cloud deployments

“Cloud” has been a buzzword for years, and as organisations and service providers have sought to capitalise on that buzz, the exact meaning of “Cloud” has varied.

6 August 2018

A few years ago, computer network diagrams would use the image of a Cloud to indicate a large network. Eventually, this Cloud symbol became associated with the entire internet and, for a few years, both meanings were used synonymously.

Now, the term “Cloud” is used to describe specific online services which are collectively labelled “Cloud computing”— applications and services offered and delivered over the internet. As Cloud services move towards maturity, the concepts and definitions are being shaped into something well-defined and understood. 

What is “Hybrid Cloud”?

Broadly, we can outline two types of Cloud delivery. Private Cloud provides a dedicated infrastructure or services used to support organisational requirements. This will involve deployment of Cloud services within a privately-owned datacentre managed either by the end user’s organisation or, more commonly, by a service provider. Public Cloud models provide pooled or shared physical resources, typically accessed over the internet from providers such as Microsoft, Amazon Web Services and Google. Both approaches have their pros and cons. Hybrid Cloud is a bringing together of these two delivery models, providing additional flexibility and capability to the delivery of services into organisations.

What are the benefits of a Hybrid Cloud solution over Public or Private?

It’s true that “Flexibility and capability” are generic terms. In practice, they relate to Hybrid Cloud’s ability to take advantage of the “best bits” of each type of offering. A typical driver for a move to Public Cloud is the ability to leverage the significant scale and elasticity built into the operating environment to allow applications or systems to increase and decrease in size in line with demand. It’s worth noting that some organisations are unable to make use of Public Cloud for select systems or applications due to compliance or regulatory restrictions.

A well-designed Hybrid Cloud deployment can enable the tactical use of Public and Private Cloud services to best accommodate the specific needs of the workloads in place, without mandating an “all or nothing” approach.

Software-as-a-Service as the evolution trigger

Software as a Service (SaaS) is also playing a key part in the transition to a Hybrid Cloud model for many organisations. As application vendors increasingly move to subscription-based, Cloud-hosted delivery models, the number of organisations that find themselves adopting a Hybrid approach to IT service delivery is also on the rise.

One of the best examples of this is Office 365. Microsoft’s all-conquering Unified Communications application has seen significant uptake due to the obvious benefits it brings – both technically and commercially – in comparison to regular on-premise infrastructure. The “as a Service” proposition provides near-infinite scaling, flexibility around licensing and feature enablement, and is delivered in a way which mitigates most of the complexity and management that’s associated with the workloads it incorporates. At the same time, it provides tight and simple integration with on-premise infrastructure. It’s a “win-win” for most who consider it.

What are some of the challenges associated with Hybrid Cloud?

Clearly, it’s not a foregone conclusion that a Hybrid Cloud approach will suit all. The integration of Cloud services with on-premise infrastructure often assumes the absence of the usual barriers to entry, such as regulatory requirements, suitable connectivity, deployment of appropriate workloads for a Cloud delivery model and so on. In real life, things are often more complicated.

The integration of Cloud can be an issue given the typical adoption of an operational expense (OpEx) model over more traditional capital expenditure (CapEx) and asset ownership. For some, this can be a step too far. Administration is another challenge; until recently, a Hybrid model has typically entailed the management of discrete and disparate platforms. This is improving as vendors and providers find better ways of managing the Private/Public divide, but there remains the problem of ownership and responsibility – establishing clear lines of support demarcation is essential.

What’s does the future hold for Hybrid Cloud?

For many organisations it’s already a question of “when” rather than “if” they start to adopt Cloud more readily, either with a wholesale shift or the broader adoption of a Hybrid model. Like it or not, Cloud adoption is an inevitability; more and more application vendors are looking to SaaS as a primary method of delivery.

As advocates of Public, Private, and Hybrid Cloud options, GCI understands the intricacies and unique benefits that can be attributed to each and can help you in your journey to the Cloud irrespective of your chosen route forward.

Want to know more? Get in touch with us today to discuss your specific requirements in detail at enquiries@gcicom.net.

Andrew Wild - Cloud Product Manager
Kelvin Papp - Managed Security Product Manager

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