You might not want to move completely to the cloud. You may have legacy applications that you can’t move or sensitive data that you need to keep on-premises. In this case, the right solution for you might be a hybrid cloud. Many organizations are adopting this architecture. A recent survey by Nutanix found that 85% of respondents think a hybrid cloud is the ideal cloud model.
Hybrid clouds can enable you to maintain full control over your most important data while still accessing the scalability, and cost savings that cloud computing can provide. In this article, you’ll learn what a hybrid cloud is and how you can effectively manage your data in a hybrid environment.
What Is a Hybrid Cloud?
A hybrid cloud is typically an environment that combines two or more public or private clouds. The combination of an on-premise, non-cloud environment with a cloud is also considered a hybrid cloud.
Public clouds are clouds managed by third-party vendors, like Amazon, Microsoft, or Google. In a public cloud, you share resources and servers with other cloud tenants. Private clouds can be managed by a third-party or you can create one in-house. In a private cloud, you have dedicated servers and resources for your data and do not share with other tenants.
Whatever the components you include, hybrid systems must be integrated. Using two separate environments that don’t integrate is not the same as using a hybrid cloud.
Hybrid clouds should provide the following functionality:
- Network multiple computers
- Offer scalability and increase data availability
- Enable data and workloads to flow between environments
Considerations for Managing Data in a Hybrid Cloud
There are several considerations you should keep in mind regardless of your hybrid system. The specifics of these considerations depend on your cloud providers and configurations.
Hybrid clouds are complex ecosystems that can be difficult to properly secure. Make sure that you are encrypting all of your data, regardless of where it is stored. You also need to ensure that all of your data transfers are performed using secure connections, such as TLS or VPN.
Make sure that your permissions and access controls align across your environments. If you have set restricted privileges in one environment, those privileges should match what is allowed in any other environment.
To effectively secure your systems, you need to integrate monitoring and logging tools that centralize data. You should use tools that can correlate traffic and activity across environments. Clear visibility of the activity across your entire system can prevent you from overlooking incidents. It can also help you respond to events more quickly.
One benefit of a hybrid cloud is that you don’t have to completely duplicate data. However, you still need to ensure that your data is duplicated in some way, for backup and disaster recovery purposes. For data you are not duplicating in the cloud, it’s important to make sure that at least one backup is stored off-site to prevent a single point of failure.
Some public cloud services use proprietary systems for backup. For example, Azure and AWS use snapshots, which are only functional within their systems. If you are going to use these systems, make sure you understand the limitations of how you can restore backups.
It’s also important to consider costs when deciding how to duplicate your data. Public clouds often offer cheaper archival or cold storage than you can provide on your own. Public clouds also enable you to automatically duplicate data across regions, often without extra costs. For data stored on-premises, your costs will depend on the time and method of storage you use.
The tooling and processes you use need to be compatible across your environments to minimize management complexity. You need to pay close attention to which proprietary services you’re using and how they integrate. If possible, try to opt for vendor-agnostic options.
You should use automation whenever possible to improve the efficiency of administration. Automation can also reduce the risk of human error, which is more likely to occur as systems grow in complexity. Using solutions that provide visibility across your systems can make both manual and automatic processes easier.
Depending on the content of your data, you may need to meet certain compliance standards. Each regulation has different standards you need to uphold and many specify how data should be handled in cloud environments.
Cloud services often include certifications to meet the most common standards, including PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA. However, a certification doesn’t ensure the compliance is fully covered. You need to discuss specifics with your vendors to determine what measures they provide to meet compliance. Then you can determine how well these measures match your needs.
Always make sure you research the regulations that apply to your data to understand any requirements. After you ensure that your environments are meeting these standards, make sure to consistently audit and monitor your systems. Clear auditing and logging can help you prove compliance and avoid sanctions.
Hybrid clouds can provide an effective solution for managing data. These clouds can help ensure that your data remains highly available while enabling you to retain full control over your most sensitive assets. Hybrid clouds can also help you take advantage of cloud benefits without worrying about vendor lock-in.
Hopefully, this article helped you understand what hybrid clouds are and provided you with some tips for successfully choosing a hybrid environment. As a next step, take some time to evaluate your available options. Once you understand vendor costs and limitations, you can begin creating a plan to migrate your data.
Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Imperva, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership.