What is a Hybrid Cloud?
A hybrid cloud is a mixed computing environment where applications are run using a combination of computing, storage, and services in different environments—public clouds and private clouds, including on-premises data centers or “edge” locations. Hybrid cloud computing approaches are widespread because almost no one today relies entirely on a single public cloud.
Hybrid cloud solutions enable you to migrate and manage workloads between these various cloud environments, allowing you to create more versatile setups based on your specific business needs. Many organizations choose to adopt hybrid cloud platforms to reduce costs, minimize risk, and extend their existing capabilities to support digital transformation efforts.
A hybrid cloud approach is one of the most common infrastructure setups today. Cloud migrations often naturally lead to hybrid cloud implementations as organizations often have to transition applications and data slowly and systematically. Hybrid cloud environments allow you to continue using on-premises services while taking advantage of the flexible options for storing and accessing data and applications offered by public cloud providers, such as Google Cloud.
Hybrid cloud defined
Hybrid cloud solutions include applications, or their components such as compute, networking, and storage, when deployed across public and private clouds. On-premises servers are also often referred to as private clouds.
Hybrid cloud examples
The most common hybrid cloud example is to use public cloud with private cloud services and on-premises infrastructure. However, there’s no one hybrid cloud configuration or one-size-fits-all architecture.
A hybrid cloud could combine a public cloud and a private cloud running on-premises or on the edge. It could also combine a public cloud with another public cloud (a.k.a., multicloud).
Hybrid models are meant to allow an organization to mix and match environments and to choose what works best for the specific applications and data. For instance, hybrid solutions are popular with companies in highly regulated industries that have strict data privacy requirements for how they store, process, and interact with their data.
Another common example is adopting a hybrid cloud approach when transitioning to using a public cloud to scale capacity dynamically when computing or processing demands exceed a data center’s capabilities. Many cloud migration projects inevitably lead to hybrid cloud deployments as workloads and applications are slowly and strategically shifted over to the cloud.
Is hybrid cloud the same as multicloud?
While these terms are often used interchangeably, they are not in fact the same. Hybrid cloud features different interconnected public and private clouds working together, sharing data and processes to perform the same task. On the other hand, multicloud approaches use services from more than one public cloud to perform various tasks, regardless of where they are hosted. Organizations that do not want to depend on a single cloud provider may choose to use resources from several providers to get the best benefits from each unique service.
A hybrid cloud approach can also be considered multicloud if it includes resources from a private cloud and resources from at least two public cloud service providers. In other words, multicloud setups include hybrid cloud setups but a hybrid cloud is not automatically considered multicloud.
How does a hybrid cloud work?
Hybrid clouds work by combining the resources and services from two or more separate computing environments. Hybrid cloud architectures require integration, orchestration, and coordination so you can share, shift, and synchronize information quickly.
Strong hybrid cloud networking is critical for a hybrid cloud deployment to function correctly. Interconnectivity between environments is typically established using a local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), virtual private network (VPN), and application programming interfaces (APIs).
Similar to other cloud computing architectures, hybrid cloud platforms leverage virtualization, containerization, and software-defined networking and storage technologies to abstract and aggregate resources. Dedicated management software allows organizations to allocate resources and enable on-demand provisioning to different environments.
What is a hybrid cloud approach used for?
A hybrid cloud approach is suited for you if you want to take advantage of the scale and security of a public cloud, such as Google Cloud, while keeping your data on-premises to comply with data residency laws or supporting computing needs closer to your customers. For some of you, with critical systems operating in private and public clouds, hybrid computing is a great option.
Here are just a few examples of the benefits of adopting a hybrid cloud:
- Modernize at your own pace. With a hybrid cloud you can migrate applications to the cloud at the pace that makes sense for your business and transform your technical infrastructure over time.
- Maintain regulatory compliance. Many industries have rules surrounding where your app can operate. Hybrid can help you use private and public clouds while adhering to any regulatory requirements.
- Running apps on-premises. You may have regulated applications that need to remain on-premises or mainframe systems that are difficult to move to the cloud.
- Running apps at remote edge locations. If you are operating in industries that demand edge hybrid computing for low latency, such as kiosks in retail or networks in telecom, a hybrid approach lets you run select apps at the edge.
Hybrid cloud solutions
Today, IT teams are looking to architect hybrid cloud environments that make use of the same technology stacks to keep pace with the adoption of cloud-native technologies, microservices and container-based architecture, and infrastructure as code.
Over time, hybrid cloud solutions have become less focused on interconnectivity between locations and increasingly shifted towards workload portability and automated deployment to the most optimal environment for the business use case.
Therefore, we recommend thinking about hybrid cloud platforms based on what they do, rather than solely in terms of location and ownership.
A hybrid cloud solution should:
- Consolidate IT resources, services, and functionality
- Automate scale-out and provisioning
- Move workloads freely between environments
- Orchestrate processes and provide unified management
- Automate deployment of applications in both private and public clouds, as well as edge locations
What are hybrid cloud benefits?
Effective application governance
A hybrid approach allows you to decide where your application sits and where hybrid computing happens. This can help improve privacy and ensure compliance for your regulated applications.
Improved performance and reduced latency
Sometimes, distributed apps at remote locations benefit from a hybrid cloud solution. For applications with low latency requirements, hybrid computing happens close to the end users.
Hybrid computing gives you the flexibility to operate in the environment that’s best for you. For example, by building with containers, you can create portable applications and easily move between public and private clouds.
By adding a public cloud provider to your existing on-premises infrastructure, you can expand your cloud computing capacity without increasing your data center expenses.
Improved performance and reduced latency
Sometimes, distributed apps at remote locations benefit from a hybrid cloud solution. For applications with low latency requirements, hybrid computing can happen closer to the end users.
Hybrid cloud models provide access to the latest technologies like AI and machine learning without having to extend or replace your existing infrastructure. You can maximize resources and increase productivity to speed up the development and delivery of apps.
Hybrid cloud disadvantages
While hybrid cloud deployments offer many advantages, it may not be the right fit for your organization.
Since hybrid cloud models include the use of private cloud and on-premises infrastructure, you still have to invest and maintain in-house hardware and any additional software and tools needed. Hybrid cloud adoption often requires new technical expertise from both IT teams as well as business users.
Hybrid cloud environments may also be complex. It can be difficult to establish visibility into all the systems, applications, platforms, and processes contained in your hybrid cloud, which can cause you to miss critical issues or opportunities. In addition, on-premises and public cloud environments are not always compatible, making it difficult to synchronize transmission of data.
That’s why it’s important to carefully assess whether the benefits of cloud match with your specific priorities, budget, and the skills of your team. It’s also important to evaluate cloud vendors and tools that support open platforms and provide hybrid cloud management capabilities.
How to set up a hybrid cloud
Workloads, infrastructure, and processes are unique. As a result, your hybrid cloud strategy will ultimately be defined around your business requirements. What works for one organization may not work for you.
When you build your hybrid cloud strategy, you will need to create a plan to:
- Define your vision. Create a vision statement that evaluates your current approach and environments to help you define what you want to optimize and how a hybrid cloud deployment will enable you to reach your goals.
- Assess workloads. Decide the workloads that will run in or be migrated to each environment. Where workloads run can have a huge impact on the success of your hybrid cloud strategy. Putting a workload in the right place can make it more effective and efficient, while the wrong one can complicate your deployment.
- Identify patterns. After you prioritize your workloads, you can evaluate which architecture patterns best match your requirements. Although your workloads are unique, there are common hybrid cloud architecture patterns you can use to help you make the most of your environments.
- Choose technology and network topology. Once you have decided on the architecture patterns for your workloads, decide which common network topologies and technologies will allow you to connect your environments in a secure and reliable manner.
Solve your business challenges with Google Cloud
What is a hybrid cloud approach used for?
Modernize at your own pace
With a hybrid cloud you can migrate applications to the cloud at the pace that makes sense for your business and transform your technical infrastructure over time.
Maintain regulatory compliance
Many industries have rules surrounding where your app can operate. Hybrid can help you use private and public clouds while adhering to any regulatory requirements.
Running apps on-premises
You may have regulated applications that need to remain on-premises or mainframe systems that are difficult to move to the cloud.
Running apps at remote edge locations
If you are operating in industries that demand edge hybrid computing for low latency, such as kiosks in retail or networks in telecom, a hybrid approach lets you run select apps at the edge.
Related products and services
Google Cloud makes your hybrid experience simple and prioritizes security. That’s why we offer Anthos, a consistent Kubernetes experience for your applications across on-premises and multiple clouds. Using Anthos, you get a reliable, efficient, and secured way to run Kubernetes clusters where you choose. When running in Google Cloud, you can manage your applications using Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), our managed Kubernetes service for running containerized applications.