Many organisations already know the benefits of migrating their services to the cloud. The big debate they often have is whether to opt for public or private cloud hosting. However, it doesn’t need to be an ‘either-or’ dilemma. There is a third way: a hybrid cloud that combines both public and private options. In this post, we’ll look at what a hybrid cloud is and the benefits it can offer.
An overview of public, private and hybrid clouds
A public cloud is an internet accessed hosting solution that uses shared physical hardware managed by a third-party hosting provider. This form of cloud offers pay-as-you-go managed hosting, quick IT deployment and rapid, flexible scaling of resources as and when needed.
A private cloud is similar to a public cloud but with one major difference: the infrastructure is completely dedicated to your organisation. This means you get improved security and control in addition to the efficiency and agility that cloud provides. This makes it far more suitable for those organisations which have to follow strict compliance regulations. For increased security, you can opt to locate a private cloud on your own premises, though you can also choose to have it hosted at your vendor’s high-security data centre.
The final benefit of a private cloud is that, as the underlying hardware is dedicated just for your organisation, you can tailor the storage, compute and networking components to meet your specific needs.
A hybrid cloud enables organisations to run two interrelated systems, each of which is capable of storing and processing different sets of data. This set-up can be hyper-effective: the public cloud offers scalability and efficiency whilst the private cloud provides optimum hardware configuration, speed and much needed security.
Spreading the load
To benefit most from a hybrid cloud, organisations need to decide how to balance the workload between the public and private elements. How much data do you wish to be stored on either system and how much processing is each system required to do? You don’t need to have a 50-50 split in terms of capacity. It is possible, for example, to have only a small private cloud capacity and have most of your system hosted on a public cloud – or vice versa.
Looking at what other organisations do, the common practice is to use the public cloud for running websites, social networks, email and development servers. Private clouds tend to be reserved for data analysis, database services, CRM, and the storage of sensitive data.
However, it is not just the type of applications that need considering when deciding on which cloud system to host them. Performance should also be considered as private and public clouds have different capabilities. Private clouds, for example, tend to be better at handling steady workloads and processes which require speed, whereas public clouds, with their ability to quickly scale up, are much better for workloads that need to deal with unexpected surges. A well-configured hybrid system can also shift some of their private cloud processing over to the public cloud when necessary.
For organisations within the EU (and in the UK after Brexit), the new General Data Protection Regulation law, which comes into effect in May 2018, will have a significant impact on the way they protect their data. The new law requires much tighter security and enhanced management of all personal data. It will also bring in much tougher penalties for those who do not comply, with fines up to 20 million euros or 4% of global turnover. In addition, any organisation which loses data through hacking or any other means will be held liable for all loss, damages or injury caused to the individuals whose data is lost.
This is one reason a hybrid cloud could be so beneficial. The private part of your hybrid system is much more secure than the public part and is the perfect place to store and lock down information that needs to be secure for compliance with the new GDPR law.
On-site or vendor hosted private cloud?
The final question is whether it is better to host your private cloud on-site or have it hosted with your service provider. The new GDPR law may play a role in your choice here, too. On-site security is just as important as online security. Service providers invest large sums of money into ensuring that their data centres are secure. Access controls are in place, CCTV cameras and security guards patrol the premises and strict protocols are put in place to ensure staff do not put clients’ data at risk. Setting up this level of security on-site can be expensive, especially if you only have a small data centre.
However, you should also consider the issue of data access. A private cloud, hosted on-site, ensures you are not reliant on variable internet connectivity to access critical data. In this sense, a self-hosted hybrid cloud enables gives you consistent access to that critical data.
As you can see from reading this post, hybrid clouds give organisations the ability to run different applications in the most suitable environments. Apps which need flexible resourcing can have scalability, apps which need better performance can run on optimised hardware and data which needs to be protected can be secured far more effectively. In addition, balancing the workloads in the most effective way can increase efficiency and reduce long-term expenditure.
If you are considering cloud hosting for your organisation check out our cloud hosting packages or call us on 0800 8620380.