When does hybrid cloud trump private or public cloud?

The hybrid cloud approach promises the most value for enterprises -- but how to balance both public and private cloud for the right reasons?
13 August 2021

Hybrid cloud: When to shift between public and private cloud? Source: Reuters & Salvador Rodriguez

  • More enterprises are looking into integrating both public and private cloud, depending on workloads and financials.
  • Hybrid clouds on the other hand are a challenge to build and maintain

Hybrid cloud infrastructure solutions were on the rise well before the pandemic, but Covid-19 has inevitably accelerated organizations’ digital transformations and further increased the demand for cloud services. It has become clear that the question isn’t public versus private cloud. In fact, organizations should tailor their IT architecture to the unique needs of their business, without having to be limited with one type of cloud solution when their requirements might change down the road.

And that’s where hybrid cloud solutions come into play. Combining a mix of public and private cloud elements, hybrid cloud can deliver the right balance between a company’s computing requirements, budgetary realities, and access requirements for everyone in the workload value chain including employees, partners and customers. In fact, Gartner predicts that 80% of enterprises will have entirely cloud-based infrastructures by 2025.

What is hybrid cloud?

Hybrid cloud is a technique of combining private cloud capabilities with one or more public cloud offerings, providing ease of transferring data and interoperable workloads from one to another, according to its costs and other variables. Using a hybrid cloud system helps the business get more control over their cloud management.

Furthermore, it gives the power to the user to protect confidential information at a lower cost. For the enterprise that is already cloud-mature or is well on its way, it can look at optimizing workloads between private and public cloud for a number of reasons:-

To slash costs of private cloud

Nearly 94% of businesses surveyed in NTT’s 2021 Hybrid Cloud Report said that the hybrid cloud was a core enabler for their business strategy and critical to meeting their immediate business needs. Additionally, one of the key findings of the NTT report was that while business continuity, resilience, and agility were the top objectives for hybrid cloud adoption, the biggest driver was cost efficiency.

A study by IDC study showed that over a five-year period, a bursting workload on hybrid cloud cost 44% less than its native public cloud equivalent, even after taking into account all the costs associated with computing and storage infrastructure management, application installation and software licensing fees, as well as refactoring and migration costs. Another study by IDC found strong cost efficiencies in migrating workloads to a hybrid solution compared to another public cloud – organizations incurred up to 57% lower migration costs, translating into savings of over US$200,000 per 100 virtual machines.

The total ongoing cost savings in running a hybrid cloud environment, including benefits in productivity, risk mitigation, security, IT administration, and infrastructure maintenance, came to nearly $900,000 a year for 100 virtual machines.

Beating latency and improving availability

Public cloud service outages are rare, but can create large-scale disruption when they do occur. When that occurs, client enterprises can do little but wait. But with private cloud or a local data center, an enterprise has more control over availability and downtime. Hence hybrid cloud services can utilize the optimal performance from different aspects of different cloud environments. For example, health care providers can store confidential patient records on the private cloud, while patient monitoring device data might be retrieved on demand from a public cloud instance. 

Latency can also be an issue, especially if the user base is massive and geographically distributed. It is precisely to overcome this that Netflix runs on a hybrid cloud model, hosting its content and user database on a public cloud, while streaming content locally to users through its private content delivery network, or CDN.

Security comfort

Security is a core focus for many enterprise IT teams — data and the workloads accessed from cloud are vital business assets. The main security concern with public cloud is that the infrastructure is the exclusive property of the provider. The user cannot control this cloud infrastructure. Additionally, the cloud provider takes on responsibilities to secure user environments in the cloud, but is rarely responsible when a breach or other malicious activity occurs.

In many cases, the best way to protect data is to keep it on-premises. The most sensitive data and critical applications stay within the owned data center on a private cloud where the organization’s IT staff maintain and safeguard the assets. Within a combined public and private environment, enterprises gain some amount of common hybrid cloud oversight.