What is Hybrid Cloud Architecture (and How Does it Work)

Modern business IT demands connections that are faster, more intricate, and constantly available. For managed service providers (MSPs), hybrid cloud architecture offers an easy, efficient, and secure means to meet these client demands – but, for all the benefits you and your clients gain from hybrid cloud storage solutions, many still find the hybrid cloud approach and hybrid cloud management unreasonably complicated.

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Still, hybrid cloud services have been growing in popularity in recent years. Between 2015 and 2016, hybrid cloud adoption grew 3x and an IBM survey from last year revealed that 98% of companies are planning to use multiple hybrid clouds soon. Unfortunately, the same study also indicated that more than half of these companies lack the tools and processes for effective multi-cloud management.

This suggests that, while interest in hybrid cloud architecture is high, understanding of the hybrid cloud isn’t keeping pace. Review this quick overview guide for a fundamental understanding of the hybrid cloud approach to data management and determine if hybrid cloud services are right for your MSP and your clients.

Everything MSPs need to get started with hybrid clouds:

What is a Hybrid Cloud?

Hybrid cloud definitions have varied through the years, largely because vendors coined the term and chose what it did and did not relate to. Today, however, the definition of hybrid cloud architecture is firmer:

Hybrid Cloud
A hybrid cloud is a computing environment that combines a public cloud and a private cloud by allowing data and applications to be shared between them. When computing and processing demand fluctuates, hybrid cloud computing gives businesses the ability to seamlessly scale their on-premises infrastructure up to the public cloud to handle any overflow—without giving third-party data centers access to the entirety of their data. Organizations gain the flexibility and computing power of the public cloud for basic and non-sensitive computing tasks, while keeping business-critical applications and data on-premises, safely behind a company firewall. [Microsoft Azure]

Hybrid Cloud Benefits

As your clients’ need for consistent, round-the-clock data accessibility grows, the cost of downtime rises to $250,000 each hour, and data increasingly migrates away from traditional data centers, the mix of resources that make up a hybrid cloud prove to be invaluable. These hybrid cloud benefits include data storage diversification for increased cybersecurity, increases in both data deployment and IT services flexibility, and potentially significant cost savings over other cloud architecture options.

Hybrid Cloud Storage Diversification

Hybrid cloud architecture enables MSPs to incorporate a combination of diverse platforms including public clouds and private clouds. By providing a wide range of hybrid cloud storage options, you can attract a wider variety of customers, open doors into new market segments, and ensure data security and accessibility for all your customers, regardless of their location and device type.

Hybrid Cloud Solutions Flexibility

One of the most appreciated hybrid cloud benefits is its flexibility. For MSPs, the hybrid cloud approach enables you to provide resources when and where they’re needed while minimizing the expenses required for always-on capabilities. Known as “cloud bursting”, hybrid cloud services configure private and public clouds to more efficiently deal with peaks and valleys in IT demands so that service interruptions are reduced or eliminated.

Hybrid Cloud Cost Savings

A factor that MSPs can’t afford to overlook when switching to hybrid cloud solutions is the savings to be had by replacing multiple solutions – and the hardware, training, and maintenance time that goes into them – for a single hybrid cloud architecture. While some think the complexity of the hybrid cloud will lead to increased costs, improved ease of use, and improved scalability ensure that hybrid cloud costs and the total cost of ownership (TCO) stay low.

How Do Hybrid Cloud Services Work?

Hybrid clouds combine public clouds and private clouds, allowing data to move seamlessly between the environments. That interconnectivity is made possible first through data virtualization, then through connective tools and protocols like application programming interfaces (APIs), virtual private networks (VPNs), and/or wide area networks (WANs).

hybrid cloud network

Each of the environments that make up your hybrid cloud architecture has its own benefits and uses. By combining them all into a single hybrid cloud – or a multi-cloud environment, if you’re dealing with particularly large arrays of data – your organization gains greater control over data safety, accessibility, privacy, authenticity, and security both for your IT infrastructure and for your customers’ data, applications, and systems.

Because of this enhanced control over both MSP and client data and the other hybrid cloud benefits discussed above, the infrastructure is seeing enormous growth. In fact, by next year 90% of organizations will adopt hybrid cloud infrastructure management, causing tremendous growth in the hybrid cloud market size, Gartner reports.

Still, for MSP organizations that are beginning to explore the world of cloud computing – or looking to expand their cloud computing offerings – it can be difficult to tell which cloud configuration best suits their needs and their customers’ demands.

Public vs. Private vs. Hybrid Cloud

Choosing to invest in cloud solutions and transition customer data to your new cloud storage can be intimidating, particularly when the abstract idea of “The Cloud” becomes more concrete. Understanding the difference between public, private, and hybrid clouds is key to making the best choice for your MSP business.

Ultimately, though, finding the right cloud solution for your organization depends on what you’re hoping to offer your customers. Each cloud deployment option comes with its strengths and weaknesses and, despite the advantages of hybrid cloud services, no single solution will be right for everyone.

 Public cloudPrivate cloudHybrid cloud
 Public cloudPrivate cloudHybrid cloud
Ideal App TypesPublic clouds are ideal for CRMs, email tools, online office apps, collaboration apps, and HR apps.Private clouds are ideal for supporting R&D, analytics, supply chain management, ERP, and BI apps.Since hybrid cloud services combine both cloud types, all app types can be safely stored and accessed.
TenantsPublic clouds are open to an unlimited number of cloud tenants.Private clouds are dedicated to your organization.Hybrid clouds have a mix of tenant structures, allowing for customizable data movements.
Storage LocationOff-premises. Cloud service providers own and manage public clouds and you access them online.On-site or off-premises. Private clouds can be hosted in your data center or at a cloud service provider’s data center.On-site or off-premises. Hybrid cloud architecture incorporates resources in your environment and in third-party data centers.
SecurityPublic clouds offer reduced security and control. As a result, they may not comply with your regulations.As the only organization accessing your private cloud, you maintain complete security and control over your stored data and apps.Hybrid cloud security offers a blend of security and accessibility, enabling you to control where specific data is stored and accessed.
FlexibilityPublic cloud infrastructure is concrete, but due to its online accessibility, it offers highly flexible sharing and collaboration.Private clouds are designed to meet your specific IT needs. It can be customized further at any time for improved flexibility.Hybrid cloud solutions provide the best of both worlds, empowering you to take advantage of both public and private clouds.
Potential CostsPublic clouds are often free, freemium, or pay for what you use. The provider manages all maintenance costs.Private clouds represent a comparatively expensive solution, both for initial deployment and ongoing maintenance.Hybrid cloud costs are relatively affordable in terms of TCO through high scalability that can keep compute costs low.

Final Thought: Is the Hybrid Cloud for You?

For modern MSPs, hybrid cloud solutions represent a valuable addition to service portfolios. Today, your customers run nearly 80% of their workloads in the cloud with even more growth on the horizon.

To support these organizations and attract more businesses to your customer base, hybrid cloud architecture offers a wealth of advantages that will enable your customers to protect all of their data and applications, while saving money, maximizing resource usage, and elastically scaling as your customers grow.

That said, the hybrid cloud approach is not something that you should dive into without careful consideration. Many hybrid cloud vendors provide a highly robust, but highly complicated solution that can lead to significant demands for training and investment to ensure successful deployment and maintenance. In some instances, this will prove to be more of a burden to your organization than a boon.

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