A hybrid cloud hosting model is often used as a compromise — or a stepping stone to a more permanent, exclusively cloud-based solution. When you move your SAP landscape to the cloud or consolidate multiple systems on different platforms, you’re in the hybrid cloud — at least until the project is done.
But the hybrid cloud is more than the point where different stages of technical transformation meet. Increasingly, companies are finding benefit in combining multiple clouds or cloud and on-premise hosting as a long-term strategy.
Why Hybrid Cloud Hosting?
The hybrid cloud lets you benefit from the best qualities of each platform. Different hosting environments will have different strengths and weaknesses — and they’ll all be optimized for different workloads. In a hybrid hosting solution, you can look at the automation, throughput, orchestration and other features of each cloud and chose the appropriate solution for each workload.
Cost control can also be a benefit. Cloud hosting is affordable, but pricing is often complex, and can vary tremendously. A strategic company can optimize the distribution of workloads to cut costs while meeting necessary performance goals.
Another strength of the hybrid cloud is robustness. If a particular cloud host has a catastrophic failure, having a backup system run by a different vendor may be key to maintaining business continuity. While such events are extremely rare, they do happen, and businesses need to plan for the worst.
Finally, hybrid cloud solutions enable you to take advantage of certain areas where the on-premise cloud may still be the best solution. For example, if you need ultra-low latency or work with very large files, hybrid hosting is often simpler and more cost effective than an all-cloud solution with a dedicated data line.
Here are a few examples of the benefits of the hybrid cloud in action:
1. Hybrid Cloud and Compliance
Compliance is an ongoing challenge for enterprises. The requirements are complex, the regulations are constantly changing, and the costs of failure keep getting higher. For example, while GDPR fines maxed out at £500,000 (about $665,700), GDPR penalties can go as high as €20,000,000 (about $22,752,000) or 4% of worldwide revenue for the previous year, whichever is higher.
With these stakes, it makes sense to use any and all resources available to mitigate risk and liability. A hybrid cloud solution can be one of those resources.
A hybrid cloud can aid compliance in different ways, depending on the compliance regime, industry, location, existing IT investments and other factors. For GDPR and similar privacy laws, for example, your organization may need to restrict access to personal data to a particular region to ensure that data is kept confidential.
In some cases, a hybrid cloud may be the best way to meet those restrictions, by storing covered data on-premise or in a special-purpose data center, while keeping less-restricted data in the public cloud.
This can be particularly helpful for companies that have already invested in security and compliance infrastructure — such as hardware encryption solutions — and want to get their full value.
Hybrid cloud solutions can also help you minimize disruption to ongoing compliance programs when you move to the cloud. For example, 21 CFR Part 11 compliance has stringent requirements for ensuring data control and data accuracy, which can be time-consuming and costly to implement.
While you can meet these standards in a public cloud, it may be unnecessarily disruptive at this stage of digital transformation. If you have mature compliance mechanisms, you may be better off moving pieces of your system that aren’t subject to 21 CFR 11 to the cloud first — you can leave the rest on your own servers for transfer later.
2. Hybrid Cloud High Availability and Disaster Recovery
A solid hosting solution will always allow you to balance your appetite for risk within your budget.
The public cloud is very reliable, but it isn’t perfect. Data centers can have disasters. Connectivity can be disrupted by anything from hardware failures to demand spikes. And while the risk of unacceptable downtime or even data loss may be low, it may not be low enough for your organization.
A hybrid cloud or multi-cloud solution can help you reduce risk, improve availability and hit even the most stringent disaster recovery and availability targets. By using multiple, redundant service providers, you can mitigate the risks, should any one provider fail. You can also address specific disaster scenarios through the use of geographically separated data centers with multiple backup copies of your data.
In some cases, a hybrid cloud solution may also be appropriate for preparing to meet disaster mode operation requirements. For example, an organization that needs to be able to access data and resume operations quickly during a major regional disaster may warrant an on-premise backup copy at a secure location.
3. Hybrid Clouds Ensure Consistent User Experience
The more the reliability of the cloud improves, the more users expect from it. Users depend on your services, and expect them to just work, like electricity or water. Even if you’re available 99.999% of the time, you can still alienate users and increase churn with minor issues, like occasional slowdowns and inconsistent performance.
Unfortunately, there are issues beyond your control that can sabotage performance, such as demand spikes or load balancing problems on your cloud host’s end — and throwing more resources at it won’t always be enough to make things smooth enough for your users.
While hybrid cloud solutions aren’t always necessary to provide great performance, in particularly demanding applications they may be. Particularly in latency-critical applications, minor performance decreases can lead to significant declines in end user experience. A hybrid cloud is one of many tools that may help you build in extra redundancy, and ensure your company never lets your users down.
4. Hybrid Cloud for AI and IoT
We’re in the midst of building a world of rapid, responsive technology. Medical devices need to be able to respond to medical emergencies in real-time. Environmental services need to accurately — and quickly — deliver their signals without fault.
Life-and-death decisions are often on the line — and if the data isn’t there, the right choices can’t be made. But even IoT applications that aren’t that intense are important — and critical to users.
The public is increasingly tapping into this data, harnessing information from a network of small sensors like the Array of Things to power a range of innovative applications with the potential to make life better for all of us.
Companies involved in IoT, from manufacturing to agriculture, need to be able to meet needs that can’t always be satisfied by the public cloud alone. A human-computer interface may need low, fixed latency that a cloud connection can’t provide. A distributed network of sensors needs to communicate internally and process certain data locally, and use AI to respond to it, while also being linked with cloud data centers that can collect and use that data.
Developers may also need to leverage the strengths of different cloud environments. Different teams may be on the HANA cloud platform, private cloud, AWS and Azure, or even using multiple clouds in complementary ways in a single project. As IoT and AI takes on an ever-bigger role in our lives, multi-cloud and hybrid cloud solutions will be critical to success.
Public, Private or Hybrid Cloud — Never Let Your Users Down
Every company is different, and every cloud solution is unique. Protera can help you analyze your use cases, goals and pain points and come up with the right cloud strategy for your company.
Contact us to learn more.
Photo Credit: ©monsitj/Bigstock