The rise of cloud services has transformed data storage and overall computing, with businesses leveraging cloud providers like Amazon, Google and Microsoft to power everything from email to how employees store documents.
Yet because of concerns such as data privacy and control, many businesses do not want to move all of their data and IT operations to the public cloud. However, they also want to leverage some of the benefits of the cloud such as flexibility and scalability. That’s why many companies turn to a hybrid cloud model, where they can use a combination of public cloud services and private cloud services, where the company would be in control of their own cloud infrastructure.
In 2019, 58% of companies reported using hybrid cloud strategies, up from 51% the year prior, according to Flexera.
The specific reasons why companies choose hybrid cloud models can vary widely based on factors such as their existing agreements and performance with cloud services providers, as well as considerations like regulations around data control that may not apply to all companies.
Broadly, however, companies are turning to the hybrid cloud model to optimize:
Security: The security of both the public and private cloud can vary greatly based on the specific provider and the actions a company takes to protect their cloud environments. In general, however, security is a motivating concern for using the hybrid cloud, whether that’s because companies want to leverage the security protections offered by a public cloud provider or whether they feel they can better protect their own cloud infrastructure.
By using a hybrid approach, companies can store sensitive data wherever they feel most comfortable, while still being able to leverage other cloud environments for less critical workloads. A survey by Nutanix finds that 60% say security will have the biggest influence on cloud deployment decisions.
Control: Related to security is control, as some companies prefer keeping their data within their own IT environments, rather than leveraging a public cloud provider’s infrastructure. Some companies are also required to enact certain data controls that may prompt them to use the private cloud at times.
For example, some companies may be required to store customer data within the countries corresponding to where user data was generated, so they may not be able to use a public cloud provider that has international data centers. However, they may still want to use the public cloud for other purposes, such as letting employees work on documents collaboratively in the cloud, in which case they may need a hybrid cloud environment.
Having more control over your data can also help for situations such as data recovery, where you can run data recovery software on your own storage devices to recover lost files.
Cost: Another reason why companies might leverage the hybrid cloud is cost. For example, if a company has invested significant resources in their own IT infrastructure, they may not want to entirely move to the public cloud, as it may be more cost-effective to incorporate their existing resources into their hybrid cloud strategy. Or a company may simply find the fixed investments in private cloud infrastructure to be more cost-effective in the long run.
A study by 451 Research commissioned by VMWare found that 41% of IT decision-makers said their private cloud cost less than the public cloud. The other 59% said the public cloud was less expensive, so not every company has the same experience, and the hybrid cloud can be a good way to balance the best of both worlds.
Although the hybrid cloud model isn’t necessarily as straightforward as just using the public cloud, it can be a happy medium for companies that want to leverage both public and private options for security, control and cost purposes. Organizations can also potentially incorporate local, offline storage options like external hard drives too in order to fully customize their data storage. Not every company benefits from using the hybrid cloud model, but it’s generally worth considering this option to see if it helps meet your company’s specific needs.