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The advantages of cloud computing are obvious, but the inherent security drawbacks of the public cloud, and the limitations of the private cloud inhibits many companies from fully embracing this new technology. Hybrid cloud may offer a solution to this imbroglio, offering cloud adapters the best of both worlds.
Hybrid cloud is in essence the integration of private and public clouds. A hybrid cloud features at least one public cloud offering, and one private cloud offering, bound together by proprietary technology or standardization that enables application data and application portability. It offers an environment where the organization manages some resources in-house, and others externally, through the public internet, and provisioning services, while moving data to the public or the private cloud, by laying down policies. For instance, the hybrid cloud may incorporate the public cloud offering Amazon S3 or Rackspace to archive data, but would continue to store operational customer data in-house, in a private cloud, confined inside the organization’s firewall, using Ubuntu.
Usually a vendor with a private cloud strikes a partnership with a public cloud provider, or vice-versa to offer hybrid clouds.
Hybrid clouds offer the best of both worlds. The organization can continue to leverage the scalability, resilience and cost-effectiveness that public clouds offer, and at the same time shield sensitive data and applications from the security vulnerabilities and risk of third-party interception that sets in by entrusting such data and apps to third party providers.
Hybrid clouds is a panacea for enterprises who are willing to embrace the cloud, but are unable to do so owing to regulatory compliance issues. Hybrid clouds allow the company to retain compliance data behind the in-house firewall, even while enjoying the benefits of the cloud.
Organizations that start with a private cloud and scale up to the public cloud can remain in control of their key business processes even when enjoying the advantages of the cloud. They can enhance the capacity and capability of their existing IT infrastructure without significant investment in time and resources.
Hybrid clouds may actually work out to be more cost effective for users with limited usage. Usually, public cloud services are billed monthly, whereas private clouds are billed on a per-Gb usage and bandwidth transfer fees basis. Moving some services to the private cloud may reduce the total cost for small scale users.
However, the path is not all rosy for hybrid clouds. Hybrid clouds face limitations in the sense that not all applications can be ported to the cloud and back. Success of the hybrid cloud implementation depends on successful interoperation between various services. This very much hinges on the SLA with the cloud service providers. Poorly constructed SLAs lacking in detail, causes ambiguity and generally leads to the hybrid cloud not serving its desired purpose. The APIs used in the hybrid environment require complex networking as well.
Moreover, hybrid cloud does not make the inherent security and loss-of-control risks of the public cloud go away. A good part of the organizational data and apps that remain in the public cloud space remain at high risk. Balancing the private and public cloud segments inappropriately may actually elevate the potential risks, compared to a pure public cloud implementation.
The day hybrid clouds can resolve such deadlocks and make portability and interoperability seamless and easy, it would easily overwhelm other models and fuel a fresh wave of migration to the cloud.
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