When the dust starts to settle after COVID-19 and we begin to move the economy forward, enterprises will be looking for the best infrastructure to keep their data secure, scalable, and accessible. To achieve these goals in the most cost-effective way possible, we will likely see more organizations opting for a mix of on-premise private cloud and third-party public cloud services—a combination also known as hybrid cloud.
There is a lot to be gained by migrating to a hybrid cloud environment, but, as with any solution, there are challenges, too. To help you decide whether this type of environment is right for your organization, we have compiled some of the biggest pros and cons of moving to a hybrid cloud model.
Pros of Implementing a Hybrid Cloud Environment
If we’ve learned anything from COVID-19, it’s that it doesn’t take long for a crisis to unfold and impact business in a big way. Enterprises must proactively disaster-proof their data storage and test their recovery plans regularly to stay ahead of potential damaging events.
One of the strengths of hybrid cloud is the level of resiliency you get from the major cloud service providers, such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon. These mega cloud providers offer many features that keep your system up and available 24/7, including automatic failover to distributed servers to prevent outages and downtime and geo-independent data centers that protect your data against fire and natural disasters.
Fast Access to Data Analytics
Cloud-based solutions often have robust performance monitoring features that help you keep your finger on the pulse of your system. A lot of data is available in real time, giving you highly accurate performance metrics immediately.
Performance monitoring in the cloud makes it easy to do system health checks and to track performance metrics over time. This helps DBAs spot trends and pinpoint issues early before they become major problems.
Reduced Infrastructure/App Complexity
Hybrid cloud environments often include at least some on-premise hardware. However, by moving some elements of the system to the public or private cloud, you lessen your physical footprint by having fewer devices to store and maintain.
This simplified infrastructure is demonstrably more flexible than strictly on-premise. In addition to physically lightening your load, cloud-based environments offer the freedom and flexibility enterprises require to run streamlined, responsive systems that meet your users’ needs and reduce waste.
Public and private clouds can be accessed by authorized users from anywhere at any time, which is a must in today’s highly distributed workplace.
One of the things the cloud does best is scale to meet demand. Enterprises benefit from the ability to add or reduce compute as needed without wasting resources on physical infrastructure that sits idle most of the year.
Access to Upgrades/Updates
Missed security patches is one of the most common reasons data breaches occur. The average IT shop simply doesn’t have the capability to keep up with patching and updates on top of all their other responsibilities, and hiring a dedicated patching team is cost-prohibitive for most organizations.
Azure and AWS are large cloud providers with the massive resources of Microsoft and Amazon behind them, which means their customers get 24/7/365 monitoring and patching. And because cloud services automatically run the latest version, moving your databases to the cloud removes the need to stay on top of updates.
Saving money is a big draw for enterprises considering a move to the cloud. A hybrid cloud infrastructure has the potential to reduce an organization’s total cost of ownership by eliminating the need for on-site data storage, reducing the operating costs of on-prem hardware, and providing “as needed” compute.
Although the cloud can have a positive impact on your budget, it is important to have a cloud strategy in place before diving in. Keeping your focus on your organization’s needs and business goals will help you avoid overpaying for services and negating the financial benefits of a hybrid cloud infrastructure.
Cons of Implementing a Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure
Security in the cloud is generally better than on-premises. Huge cloud providers such as Amazon and Microsoft have the financial resources to implement state-of-the-art security features both in the cloud and in their physical data centers that are well beyond the means of most organizations.
However, there are certain risks inherent in moving your data to the cloud. One of the biggest security concerns is lack of control. Once you migrate your data to a cloud service, you can’t control the cloud provider’s security measures, but you will be held legally and financially responsible in the event of a data breach.
Despite the many benefits of moving to the cloud, it isn’t an option for some highly regulated industries. Public cloud environments may not meet regulatory requirements, and privacy legislation and regulatory compliance standards compel some organizations to maintain on-premise infrastructure either by choice or by law.
A recent study shows that in 2019, 73 percent of 2,650 global IT professionals surveyed by Vanson Bourne said they were moving some of their apps back on-premises or to a private cloud from the public cloud, and 22 percent said they were migrating five or more applications off of public cloud.
Keeping Track of Both Instances
Management and orchestration across multiple cloud environments is a huge undertaking. There are often compatibility issues between public and private clouds, which can be exacerbated by the compliance demands on private clouds. Different infrastructures also may require specific management tools, which further complicates your ability to efficiently run a hybrid cloud environment.
There are some solutions coming to market that address the challenge of hybrid cloud management and orchestration. The front-runner at the moment seems to be Microsoft’s Azure Arc, which lets you run Azure services on any infrastructure and provides one centralized management hub for all of your environments.
A common complaint with hybrid cloud is inconsistent visibility across environments. On-premise infrastructures have the most visibility because the organization owns the system. Public cloud offers the least amount of visibility because the platform is owned and controlled by a third-party cloud service provider. Private cloud falls somewhere between the two in terms of visibility.
Lack of visibility can hide security vulnerabilities or obscure performance issues, but implementing the right hybrid cloud management tool, such as Azure Arc, can help mitigate lack of visibility and simplify management across all of your environments.