If you’re mixed up about hybrid cloud computing, you’re not alone. Discover if this increasingly popular approach is right for your organization.

John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author

November 20, 2023

4 Min Read
hybrid cloud lettering on a digital background
ra2studio via Adobe Stock

At a Glance

  • The biggest misconception about hybrid cloud computing is that it’s overly complex and challenging to manage.
  • The hybrid cloud allows adopters to select the most suitable environments for specific workloads.
  • By choosing exactly where data lives, a hybrid cloud can help an organization meet regulatory and compliance requirements.

A hybrid cloud is a mixed computing environment that allows applications to run with the support of computing, storage, and services in multiple environments, including public and private clouds, on-site data centers, and even “edge” locations. Hybrid cloud computing continues to gain momentum, since the number of organizations relying entirely on a single public cloud is now dwindling rapidly.

In a hybrid cloud environment, organizations have the flexibility to run certain services or store data on their own servers (on-premises or in a private cloud) while also leveraging the resources and scalability of the public cloud, says Mayank Jindal, an Amazon software development engineer in an email interview. The approach allows organizations to meet specific security, compliance, or performance requirements, as well as providing the ability to seamlessly move workloads between different environments based on their evolving needs.

Key Benefits to a Hybrid Cloud

A hybrid cloud allows adopters to optimize and tailor their infrastructure/resources for business needs, performance, cost, security, and governance, explains Alok Shankar, engineering manager and technical lead for Oracle Cloud Migrations via email. “It also allows adoption at a pace that is comfortable for an organization.”

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Shankar notes that an organization may start their hybrid cloud journey quite modestly by replacing disk storage with object storage and slowly migrate other components as needed. “Usually, applications needing high security or low latency can be kept on-premise while others needing elasticity or rapid scaling can be migrated to the public cloud.”

A hybrid cloud’s flexibility can be extremely useful, Shankar says. “In most cases, there are cost and ROI implications that can save millions of dollars,” he states. If an organization migrates components to the cloud, it can save the expense of adding extra machines to its data center, which may be needed only temporarily. “Cloud elasticity is on-demand, cheaper, and you only pay for what you use when compared to on-premise solutions.”

By choosing exactly where data lives, a hybrid cloud can also help an organization meet regulatory and compliance requirements. “For example, storing data in a European country due to GDPR regulations will be faster in the cloud if you don’t have a data center in that particular geography,” Shankar explains.

Meanwhile, security can be enhanced by maintaining tighter control over sensitive information. “One can keep sensitive components on-premises and use the cloud for less critical data and applications,” Shankar notes.

Related:How to Minimize Multi-Cloud Complexity

In an email interview, Bernie Hoecker, a partner and enterprise cloud transformation leader with technology research and advisory firm ISG, reports that benefits can be narrowed to four specific attributes.

  1. Cost savings. Hybrid cloud adopters can avoid capital expenditures by leveraging the public cloud and running the applications in a SaaS model. This strategy also avoids the need for ongoing hardware maintenance.

  2. Scalability. Public cloud models can scale up or down during usage spikes. Pay as you go models also provide the opportunity to help balance cost and revenue.

  3. Flexibility. The hybrid cloud allows adopters to select the most suitable environments for specific workloads. An example would be applications that are required to run in a private cloud for compliance or regulatory statutes.

  4. Performance. Adopters can select the cloud environment that best serves their end users’ needs. Client demands differ by industry and persona. A hybrid cloud model offers multiple avenues to satisfy client demand.

Getting Started With Hybrid

A hybrid cloud strategy should be considered only after careful evaluation, Shankar says. The first step should be a careful assessment of the organization’s needs and requirements, he suggests. “If it seems like a good fit, you can start building a hybrid cloud strategy.”

Related:The Case of Climbing Cloud Costs – Optimizing Hybrid IT Strategy

When considering hybrid cloud adoption, it’s important to understand that a successful implementation often involves ongoing monitoring, evaluation, and adjustments, Jindal says. “Technology evolves, and an organization’s needs may change over time, so regular assessments of cost-effectiveness and security measures are crucial,” he warns. “Staying adaptable and informed about the latest developments in the hybrid cloud space can lead to better outcomes and long-term success.”

Hybrid Cloud Multiple Misconceptions

The biggest misconception about hybrid cloud computing is that it’s overly complex and challenging to manage, Jindal says. In reality, with proper planning, the right tools, and expertise, hybrid cloud environments can be effectively managed without excessive complexity. “The key,” he notes, “is to carefully design and implement the hybrid cloud strategy to align with the organization’s objectives and requirements.”

Another mistaken belief, Hoecker says, is that hybrid clouds are only for large enterprises. “Hybrid clouds are used by large and small firms and, in many cases, start-ups leverage this approach.” He also dismisses the misconception that hybrid clouds aren’t reliable. “This is not true,” Hoecker states. “Hybrid cloud providers provide high availability offerings and uptime SLAs.”

About the Author(s)

John Edwards

Technology Journalist & Author

John Edwards is a veteran business technology journalist. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and numerous business and technology publications, including Computerworld, CFO Magazine, IBM Data Management Magazine, RFID Journal, and Electronic Design. He has also written columns for The Economist's Business Intelligence Unit and PricewaterhouseCoopers' Communications Direct. John has authored several books on business technology topics. His work began appearing online as early as 1983. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, he wrote daily news and feature articles for both the CompuServe and Prodigy online services. His "Behind the Screens" commentaries made him the world's first known professional blogger.

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