Business owners today are facing a lot of pressure to get their business ‘on the cloud’. Whether it’s because the barriers to access and costs are so low for setting up, because the cloud is the only thing that can cope with their explosion of growth or simply the fact that they read somewhere that they should. Whatever the reason, more and more businesses are adopting the cloud (or hybrid cloud) in a rough and ready way that fits their business needs about as well as a badly tailored suit. So instead of jumping into it, we wanted to explain what the ‘hybrid cloud’ solution is and the positive and negative effects it could have on your business.
We can make a fairly good guess at the general meaning of ‘hybrid cloud’, given that the word ‘hybrid’ means a mix of two things. The hybrid cloud solution is essentially a cloud computing environment that uses a mixture of on-premises private cloud and third party public cloud services. Using this mix of systems your IT department can move workloads between private and public clouds as your needs change, giving you greater flexibility as a business. For example, your business could deploy an on-site private cloud to host sensitive or critical information in order to guarantee its security. For less critical resources like testing and in development work, you could use a third party public cloud provider like Google Compute Engine. Then to host your customer facing archives and backups, you could use a public facing cloud service like Google Drive or Amazon Storage, and use a software layer to provide public connections to those clouds if needed.
The main advantage of a hybrid cloud solution is the flexibility and scalability it offers users. The major selling point of public third party clouds for business is their endless expansion capabilities, making them perfect for businesses who experience sudden spikes in data. For example, if you run a retail business your transactional data might spike around Christmas or the summer holidays, so you would need extra storage and computing capabilities for that time. Your main application for this could run in your private cloud (for security reasons), but you would use cloud bursting to access addition computing resources when you need them. Public servers can deploy these instantly and take them away just as quickly when you don’t need them anymore, so you never have to worry about running out of space again. If you were to do this purely through a private on-premises cloud, you would need to ensure you had this space and capability ready at all times, meaning a huge capital outlay for short term spikes of activity. It’s the perfect solution for businesses looking for a ‘pay as you go’ option for computing resource.
Of course nothing is ever fool proof. The main risk of using a mix of private and public clouds lies in the ‘public’ aspect. This element of the hybrid cloud opens up connectivity issues, SLA breaches and other possible service disruptions that are completely out of your control. In order to mitigate this risk, your hybrid solution needs to be designed to ensure each workload utilises multiple public clouds, as well as the private option. You will also need to ensure your business has solid API compatibility and strong, consistent network connectivity to cope with the constantly moving workflows. This not only provides added protection from a backup perspective, but allows built in redundancy.
However, appealing it might seem, we suggest you to avoid adopting a ‘rough and ready’ cloud solution simply because there is pressure for you to adopt cloud technologies. Instead, you need to have a genuine business discussion with someone who understands the technology, who will then be able to advise you on your best course of action. Luckily, I am such a person and happy to have a chat with you about your cloud and backup questions any time. Just get in touch and arrange your consultation.