By Lee Atchison
As enterprises increasingly move to the cloud, many of them are finding that they’re not yet able or willing to completely abandon their data centers and move all of their workloads to the public cloud. Instead, they’re often taking a hybrid approach, keeping some workloads in on-premise data centers while leveraging the cloud for other tasks.
But while the term “hybrid cloud” has found its way into common usage among IT operations folk, not everyone agrees on exactly what it means. Basically, a hybrid cloud refers to any situation in which you have applications or their services running in your company’s data center, and in one or more public clouds, such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform.
A private cloud, meanwhile, is when your company incorporates cloud-type architectures and capabilities into your own private data center. The goal here is to make your data center “look” like a cloud and take advantage of cloud principles and best practices, but it is reserved for your company’s own use.
Some people use the term “hybrid cloud” specifically to refer to companies that use a public cloud and have implemented a private cloud in their own data centers.
To me, though, any time you have a data center connected to the public cloud and applications shared between that data center and a public cloud, you’ve got a hybrid cloud … no matter how you choose to manage your private data center.
Given that definition, lots and lots of companies have a hybrid cloud to one extent or another. There is nothing magical about it.
Basically, the hybrid cloud is a tool for any organization that wants to take advantage of some of the benefits that the cloud provides without having to move everything in its application infrastructure over to a public cloud.
3 Types of hybrid clouds
The increasing importance of the hybrid cloud may not be news, but there is more than one way to implement a hybrid cloud. In broad terms, there are three different approaches to implementing a hybrid cloud:
- Using the hybrid cloud to add data centers and capacity
- Using the hybrid cloud to add cloud capabilities
- Using the hybrid cloud for app migration
It’s important to note that these approaches are not exclusive. Many companies undertake multiple, simultaneous cloud migrations, each one using a different approach—or combination of approaches—and affecting different applications and different business units with particular needs and goals.
A company typically will have multiple applications, some of them in the cloud, some of them in traditional data centers, and some of them various hybrids. This kind of multi-variant hybrid cloud environment enables the company to handle the needs of all these cases.
Prioritizing cloud migrations
But that doesn’t mean they all happen the same way at the same time. Often, companies prioritize moving applications to the cloud based on the type of the application: