What Is Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure?

Hybrid cloud infrastructure offers a more balanced approach to computing resources, allowing companies to use a combination of  their data center(s) and one or more public (shared) clouds.

In recent years, the realm of hybrid cloud infrastructure has proven to be a captivating fusion of innovation and versatility. Companies, more than ever, are tailoring unique blends of public and private storage solutions to suit their precise needs. Through on-premises data centers and hypervisors, companies have greater control over sensitive data and security, while sharing a public cloud allows them to leverage the cloud providers infrastructure to maintain more flexibility and lower costs through reduced maintenance and upkeep of their on-premises infrastructure. Workloads can move between the two interconnected domains, ensuring that the data is available in more than one location thus creating a more flexible architecture in the event of a ransomware attack.

Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure Defined

A hybrid cloud infrastructure always consists of a private environment, such as a private cloud, data center, and a public cloud. . The public cloud dynamic can vary depending on the provider used and the demands of each workload., Whether you are an evolving tech start up or a well-established financial institution, ensuring optimal resource utilization without compromising security or performance is extremely important.

You might have your more sensitive data on-premises in a private environment whereas your application and container deployments could be deployed on AWS, Azure or Google Cloud, including various Kubernetes distributions. Your sensitive on-premises data is often restricted to individuals working within the facility. Individuals outside the facility can access this data, but only when adequate security and access controls are implemented. 

Public clouds, in comparison, offer companies an environment where they can expand, or contract resources as needed. As workflows blossom, companies can increase the amount of computing resources available to employees. Many public cloud operators only charge for use, not on a tiered system.

Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure vs. Multi-Cloud Infrastructure

The terms hybrid cloud infrastructure and multi-cloud infrastructure are often used interchangeably, but there’s a distinction. Hybrid cloud infrastructure always features a private cloud or data center and one or more public clouds. A multi-cloud features two or more public clouds based with different providers, and is continuing to grow in popularity. In fact, a 2023 survey demonstrated that 83% of organizations agree that a multi-cloud approach is the preferred strategy, including the data protection use case.

Under this definition, a hybrid cloud can technically be considered a multi-cloud, but a cloud-based multi-cloud isn’t regarded as a hybrid cloud.

Benefits of Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure

According to the 2024 Data Protection Trends Report, 41% of companies consider cloud mobility (between clouds, and to and from on-premises infrastructures) as the most important characteristic of a modern data protection solution. This is a notable and unsurprising development, as the benefits offered by a hybrid cloud infrastructure are plentiful. Benefits include:

  • Flexibility: When launching a new product or during seasonally high demand, companies using hybrid clouds don’t need to buy more hardware or expand their on-premises footprint to accommodate extra business. The company moves these operations to the cloud, which can scale up to meet this demand, and then scale down when the rush ends
  • Compliance: Companies in the finance and healthcare fields often face strict data compliance regulations. It makes more sense to keep sensitive data on-premises rather than in the cloud. To make room for sensitive data, companies can move tasks governed by fewer regulations to the public cloud
  • Cost-effective: A company’s hardware and personnel costs are reduced when using a hybrid approach. Many cloud providers only charge a company for its total usage and not for tiered resources or storage. This encourages a company to shift workloads to the appropriate environment, so it can save on operating costs
  • More effective support for remote staff: When all your data is in public clouds, providing distributed staff with the tools they need while protecting sensitive data can be challenging. However, in a hybrid cloud environment, sensitive data can be kept in a private environment, while the company uses a public cloud to make essential applications and services available in any location to employees with authorized access
  • Enhanced ability to innovate: When you keep sensitive data in a private data center or cloud, you can experiment with new applications or products in the public cloud, where developers can play with new ideas
  • Increased security and better risk management: Working with a hybrid cloud infrastructure reduces the risk of exposing sensitive data. It also allows companies to better allocate workloads based on compliance regulations
  • Disaster recovery strategies: A hybrid architecture allows you to store critical data applications in several environments. This ensures enhanced availability and minimal downtime

How to Build a Hybrid Cloud Architecture

Building a successful hybrid cloud architecture depends on seamless interaction of vital components.

  • Public cloud: Many companies, such as AWS, Google, and Microsoft Azure, offer scalable computing resources that you pay for as you need them
  • Private cloud: A private cloud provides enhanced security and allocation for exclusive resources only the company needs
  • Conductivity: Organizations require connectivity to effectively manage public and private clouds. They achieve this by using secure networking tools, VPNs, and APIs. These tools ensure flawless communication and data transfer from one environment to another
  • Management and orchestration: Management platforms concentrated in a centralized location provide a complete view of performance, resource allocation, and security across a hybrid infrastructure. Orchestration tools enable automatic scaling and migration of workloads based on predetermined policies for greater efficiency

Strategies for Successful Implementation

Before implementing a hybrid cloud infrastructure, you must develop a comprehensive hybrid cloud strategy. You may want to host most of your resources in a private on-premises data center and only expand to the public cloud when needed. Or you can host operations in the public cloud, reserving your on-premises data center for critical data and applications.

Much of your strategy will come down to doing your homework and planning. You’ll need to address potential challenges, such as the difficulties in unifying a private and public environment. Each environment runs atop a different technology, meaning the back ends are disconnected from the front ends. If you’re not careful, this can lead to problems. Look for clouds that are as compatible as possible with each other.

If you have a distributed workforce, regulating access can be an issue. Consider implementing group or individual roles within your organization. Role-based access control (RBAC) provides employees with appropriate access to sensitive data regardless of location.

Best Practices for Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure

Implementing a hybrid cloud infrastructure doesn’t have to be complex if you adhere to these hybrid cloud best practices:

  • Develop intelligent strategies and achievable objectives. Before implementing any computing strategy, identify your organization’s goals and objectives. Ask yourself what workloads and applications would benefit from using a hybrid cloud. After determining that, assess potential benefits and risks
  • Develop strong data management and security processes. A hybrid cloud works best for an organization with data management practices that ensure data integrity, security, and compliance. Develop a plan that includes strong access controls, encryption of sensitive data and powerful data backup strategies
  • Scrutinize potential providers and partners. If you want a hybrid cloud to work effectively and offer you the best balance of cost, performance, and security, take the time to find the appropriate providers for your needs. You may want to use one public cloud provider for one workload while placing another workload with a completely different provider
  • Optimize bandwidth requirements. To maintain peak performance in a hybrid cloud environment, organizations must prioritize their network conductivity between all components of the hybrid cloud. As part of the planning process, consider how much bandwidth you’ll need, data transfer costs and possible bottlenecks
  • Monitor how the hybrid cloud works for you. If you want to achieve the most from your hybrid cloud infrastructure, identify the monitoring and management tools that work best for your company. You want tools that provide end-to-end visibility across all appropriate components and environments in a hybrid cloud

Challenges and Considerations in Adopting a Hybrid Cloud

As alluring as a hybrid cloud might seem in terms of work balance and cost efficiency, consider the following disadvantages and challenges.

  • Needed expertise: A hybrid cloud requires that two or more environments interoperate. It is not always easy. Organizations must develop the expertise to work on multiple platforms and with differing technologies. Hiring individuals to effectively maintain and run a hybrid cloud can increase labor costs
  • Data management: Dividing data and applications into a hybrid cloud infrastructure can be complex. Difficulties may arise in maintaining a consistent and unified data management strategy. Implementing hybrid and multi-cloud backups can also pose a problem. Your team should watch out for fragmented data storage, which creates inefficiency
  • Security: Maintaining security across several environments can be challenging. Companies must create consistent access controls across all platforms to mitigate the risk of unauthorized access
  • Cost management: Hybrid cloud infrastructure offers cost efficiency if managed correctly. Companies must monitor how resources are deployed across multiple environments. If not, cost efficiency may vanish

Hybrid Cloud Use Cases and Examples

The popularity of hybrid cloud infrastructure has grown significantly in various industries because of its ability to deal with multiple use cases. Since a hybrid cloud allows organizations to leverage public cloud scalability while relying on on-premises infrastructure for more sensitive tasks, organizations can meet fluctuating demands across environments while protecting sensitive data.

  • E-commerce: Many organizations experience surges during holiday seasons and other times. Companies using a hybrid cloud infrastructure can quickly and cost-effectively scale their public cloud resources to cope with the surge in traffic while maintaining sensitive customer data on-premises
  • Finance: Financial services firms allocate critical data and application backups to multiple locations. If an outage or disaster occurs, the firm will quickly be back up and running using resources from an unaffected environment. Business continuity is ensured, and downtime is minimized
  • Healthcare: Any organization that deals with healthcare in any form must comply with strict data privacy regulations. Sensitive patient data can be stored in a secure, on-premises environment or in a secure private cloud. Public cloud resources are reserved for processing less sensitive data and running less critical applications

Accelerating Your Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure With Veeam

Adopting a hybrid cloud infrastructure can provide your company with increased security for its most sensitive data, improved efficiency in handling workloads, and the appropriate tools and access needed to keep the ecosystem operating seamlessly. Your org can generate cost efficiency by leveraging a public cloud to burst needed resources during times of high demand, while reducing its computing footprint when demand slackens

So don’t let the complexities of hybrid cloud backup deter you from exploring these innovative infrastructure solutions. Veeam offers standardized protection and comprehensive support for major public cloud platforms such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. Seamlessly protect mixed environments with one industry-leading platform using Veeam’s unique data protection offerings and increase your confidence in using a hybrid cloud approach.

Download our #1 Hybrid Cloud Backup Guide for more insights on how to manage your hybrid cloud backup.

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