When cloud technology first emerged within the industry, the debate surrounding the systems centered around public or private arrangements. Many would-be adopters assumed it was either one or the other, and there was no middle ground. However, another option soon surfaced that turned this entire argument on its head: the hybrid cloud, an advancement that offered the best of both public and private configurations.
Paul Cormier, Red Hat president of products and technologies, told ZDNet that the choice between cloud structures is key in today's corporate environment, noting that it "could be the most critical decision [CIOs and IT managers] make this decade." For this reason, administrators must carefully weigh their options to ensure that they select the one that best suits their company's needs.
Recently an increased number of organizations have been opting for a hybrid cloud. Gartner research predicted that by 2017, nearly half of all large enterprises will have a hybrid system in place. At the same time, the Cisco Global Cloud Index report found that global cloud IP traffic will increase to reach 5.3 zettabytes by the end of 2017, according to Data Center Knowledge. With rising levels of traffic, the industry is seeing more hybrid clouds being deployed, and for good reason.
Benefits offered by hybrid clouds
The inherent design of a hybrid cloud allows organizations to house part of their deployment on a public platform, reserving the private portion of the system for more security-sensitive information. ZDNet contributor Alan Ho noted that this arrangement offers a cost efficiency not possible with other technologies, and also pointed out that hybrid provides the ability to "maintain an element of independence and detachment." Overall, this means companies only pay for the portion of the service that they use, ensuring that cloud computing costs are kept where they should be.
In addition, hybrid clouds provide incredible flexibility when it comes to securing as well as scaling the solution. Because hybrid clouds offer both a private and public portion, decision-makers can decide the best location for their information.
"[Hybrid cloud users] can enjoy the convenience of operating on the public cloud while still keeping your sensitive operations internal, away from prying eyes," Ho wrote. "You have the ability to tweak restrictions, such as those related to access, so you can control exactly how much of your information is available, and to whom."
Cloud challenges addressed by hybrid arrangements
One challenge that could potentially emerge with any cloud system is latency. Especially when utilized by remote workers, latency could become an issue, stated Computer Weekly contributor Chris Evans. When data is transmitted over long distances, such as when packets travel to and from the cloud provider, latency can be increased. However, hybrid clouds leverage read and write caching to address this problem.
"Hybrid cloud solutions overcome latency issues by caching data locally and using WAN optimization techniques to reduce data traffic," Evans wrote.
Even with its range of security options, protection data in the cloud has always been a perceived challenge. With hybrid clouds' layered security measures, however, these worries can be effectively alleviated. Evans noted that hybrid systems come with built-in safety levels to guarantee cloud data protection.
"Firstly, it provides secure access to the cloud storage provider, based on the provider's authentication mechanism," Evans wrote. "Secondly, it encrypts data in transit across the network (using protocols such as SSL/TLS). Thirdly, it encrypts data at rest within the cloud provider's storage environment."
With cloud data encryption in place, even if a malicious, unauthorized individual were to infiltrate the hybrid system, any information housed there would be unreadable. These security measures ensure that only those that are meant to view the data – those with the decryption key – are able to do so.