“Hybrid Cloud” Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

Everyone is buzzing about “hybrid cloud” strategies, but clarity around that conversation is being muddled by widely-held misunderstandings of this terminology.

Every organization that has looked into cloud networking solutions in the past half-decade or so has likely run into the great “Public vs. Private Cloud” debate.

Historically, the distinction has been at least somewhat clear: a private cloud is the best defense against cybercrime, but public clouds’ minimal start-up costs and maximum flexibility can’t be beat. Yet now in an attempt to have their proverbial cake and eat it, too, many companies are venturing into what are currently referred to as “hybrid clouds.”

Hybrid clouds, meant to incorporate the best of both public and private, seem to be the most pragmatic solution for a number of industries. In healthcare, for example, organizations typically deal in day-to-day, low-volume computing, but occasionally have to perform extensive analyses of massive amounts of data. This problem of variable computing need is not uncommon — accountants and retailers experience similar spikes in demand during tax or holiday seasons.

Even organizations without such a clear-cut disparity in their day-to-day and occasional needs frequently find that some of their especially sensitive data is better suited to a more secure, private cloud, though a public cloud works better for them most of the time. However, the common label that we apply to cloud systems that combine both a private and public cloud — “hybrid clouds” — isn’t entirely accurate. In reality, these are “multi-cloud” systems, and labeling them as such will help prevent confusion as they become increasingly common.


Why “Hybrid” Isn’t Quite Right

Because of the lack of overlap between public and private cloud environments, companies choosing to store data on both cloud types are likely to run into some frustrations when they attempt to translate between the two. Anyone who’s used both a Mac and a PC knows how confusing it can be to switch between the two — regularly switching between different cloud interfaces will result in similar hiccups.

Communication between the two clouds is bound be challenging, as well. Of course, for an organization that truly needs the flexibility of both a public and private cloud, these difficulties will be worth the end result. But the fact that the difficulties exist at all indicates that “hybrid” may not be the right term to describe this type of system.

In most multi-cloud systems, the two clouds aren’t fully integrated. Microsoft’s public Azure cloud and private Azure stack are an example of a truly integrated hybrid cloud, but this models is rare. Within most organizations, a majority of the data and applications that live on one cloud will rarely or never move to the other. A “hybrid” is the result of combining two different elements into a single entity — not of using two different elements for different tasks at different times.


It’s Time for a Terminology Change

Hybrid cars are a good example of what “hybrid” really means. A vehicle is considered a hybrid if it’s equipped to use both gas and electricity — parking an electric car and a car that runs on gas next to each other doesn’t mean there’s suddenly a hybrid car in that garage.

As more and more businesses begin to move their data to the cloud in an effort to keep up with accelerating technology and data needs, the demand for some kind of dual solution is likely to increase. All the same, IT professionals need to be careful enough with their terminology to refer to these systems as “multi-cloud.” More efficient workflow begins with more effective communication, and effective communication means clear, accurate terminology.


The Best Cloud Solution for You

Deciding whether your organization needs a true hybrid cloud, a multi-cloud model, or only one cloud solution can be overwhelming, even if you understand the nuanced differences between the terms. Partnering with the network experts at Turn-key Technologies (TTI) can help simplify the decision-making process.

No matter what cloud solution is best for you, TTI’s managed IT services will be available to help you every step of the way, from assessment, to installation, to maintenance.

Reach out to TTI today to see how we can help.

By Craig Badrick


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