Hybrid Cloud Architecture: What Is It and Why You Should Care?


The term Cloud is not new to most people associated with the IT industry, and for as long as data reigns, it does appear as if Cloud is here to stay. Like many other services and technologies that have changed the paradigms in this volatile industry, Cloud is evolving too. And since the evolution is dictated by the need of the industry (customers), it is happening at a rather fast pace. Perhaps, a tad bit fast for many to keep up with and hence it is natural for a term like Hybrid Cloud to arouse curiosity in many.

To understand Hybrid Cloud and its architecture, one may need to step back in time to when Cloud services started taking shape. Perhaps, not until the launch of Amazon Web Services in 2002, did the industry sit up and take notice of the Cloud as a disruptor in the data storage, sharing and services domain. With Google also joining in, it was clear that Cloud was the way to go for enterprises.

It was obvious that this service could scale easily, handles dynamic loads, and was also easy on the pocket. Bingo, the industry was seemed to have found something to wow about! But, of course, every new technology and service brings with it some thought-provoking issues, and so did Cloud; outages, security and data breaches, control, reliability, and regulations, necessitated changes in the Cloud services.

Understanding Cloud

The Cloud is nothing, but a set of Servers, put together for special purposes and people access the Cloud to work with it. Typically, two terms Private Cloud and Public Cloud were commonly associated with Cloud Computing. In a Private Cloud, it meant that someone (could be a customer/organization or a related group of people) owned/rented the Cloud fully and had full access to it, and no one else could share it.  However, a Public Cloud was like any other public service, which meant that people could ‘rent’ the Cloud or part of it and related services for a designated fee. Therefore, more than one unrelated entity could rent the Cloud, and it also meant that the Cloud was off-premises. A Private Cloud, on the other hand, could be off-site or on-site, as desired by the people owning/renting it.

There were occasions or situations where enterprises felt like they wanted to have the best of both worlds of the Private and Public Clouds. This meant that for various purposes that suited their business goals, they wanted to have access to a mixed kind of environment which gave them access to both. In other words, organizations needed the flexibility of being able to shift between the Private and Public Clouds, as and when the need arose. This would mean a mix of on-site and off-premises environments, however, enabled with necessary access control for seamless workflows. Hence, there could also be a third party that enabled the access and the movement between the two Clouds. Simply put, this is what is referred to as a Hybrid Cloud.

Requisites for a Hybrid Cloud

If you need to set up a Hybrid Cloud for your enterprise, then the components needed are:

  • Access to a Public Cloud platform like AWS, Microsoft Azure, GCP, etc.
  • A Private Cloud, hosted either on or off premises as per your choice
  • Provision of requisite network connectivity between the two, to function seamlessly

The point that enterprises need to keep in mind while architecting their Private Cloud, is that it should be compatible with the Public Cloud. This is because they have no control over the Public Cloud architecture and may not also be allowed customization or flexibility to a great extent. Depending on the needs and the business goals, the IT team of the enterprises setting up the Private Cloud may need to plan for containers or virtual machines (VM) to achieve their goals. It is while planning and setting up these components of the Private Cloud that the compatibility with the Public Cloud should be considered.

Why Hybrid Cloud?

Why should enterprises consider going in for Hybrid Cloud is somewhat answered above in the history of its evolution. However, it is good to look at the benefits that can be derived from it, to understand this aspect better. Security is one of the major advantages of having a Hybrid Cloud, as discussions around this are what triggered its evolution.

The other key benefits and advantages are:

  • Flexibility – There is a comfort in being able to move non-sensitive information out to a readily available Cloud, based on demand. This is achieved through Cloud Bursting; it refers to the temporarily use of the Public Cloud when the demand exceeds the available Private Cloud resources. Also, enterprises could test their scenarios for a while and see what suits them best, and then move fully on to the Public or the Private Cloud, if need be.
  • Scalability – Enterprises can easily scale up or down depending on their need, again due to Cloud Bursting.
  • Reduced cost – With good planning and effective use of the Hybrid Cloud, enterprises can manage to save significantly on their incurred cost.
  • Agility – This is a primary benefit of the Hybrid Cloud as it allows dynamic changes rather fast, as decision making can be faster based on available resources. Agility translates into competitive advantages, as agility counts for a lot.
  • Reliability – Reliability comes from having distributed Servers and storage using the Public and Private Cloud and also, having greater control over the data flows, especially for sensitive data. It also allows for faster access to mission-critical resources.

Suitability checks

While there are many enterprises that vouch by Hybrid Clouds, it is necessarily not suited for all. As mentioned above, it is the business goals that could determine which type of Cloud you may want to go with. Small organizations with very low IT budgets, may not want to venture into setting up a Private Cloud/Hybrid Cloud.

Speed is also another factor that could drive this decision as there could be the latency factor coming into the Hybrid Cloud. Because of the various components involved in the interaction, connectivity issues or disruptions may also happen. Ideally, this is not suited for mission-critical, always available kinds of workloads. But, the takeaway from this all, is that Hybrid Cloud does provide enterprises with the best of both worlds and help plan for the future as well.