Just a couple of years ago, the cloud was something that businesses were looking at but not really using for anything important. That’s all changed, and today, most businesses have adopted a hybrid cloud strategy in which they have stretched several key IT elements into the cloud for more efficient operations, flexibility, and potential cost savings. Let’s look at five of the most important ways that the hybrid cloud has changed IT.
Dev and Test — Extending development and testing to the cloud was where the cloud first started gaining traction for most companies. The cloud enables businesses to accelerate their development and test processes by giving developers and testers the ability to rapidly provision their own VMs without needing to wait for a request to go through all the proper IT channels. The hybrid cloud makes dev and test more agile and at the same time reduces internal operating requirements and costs.
Backup — The next big area where businesses began adopting the hybrid cloud was for backups. Using the cloud as a backup target for your on-premises servers helps companies to implement the desired 3-2-1 rule for backups. To properly protect your data you should have at least three separate copies of that data that are stored on two different types of media with one copy of the data offsite. Implementing backup in the hybrid cloud provides at least one additional copy of the data, one copy on a different media type, and one copy that is offsite. Leveraging the hybrid cloud for backups can also potentially save businesses on storage costs as well as the costs for third-party, off-site data archival services.
Disaster Recovery (DR) — The hybrid cloud has also expanded the options that are available to businesses for DR. Using the hybrid cloud as a DR site frees businesses from the expenses of provisioning and maintaining one or more physical DR sites themselves. Physical DR sites can be very expensive to setup and maintain. Not only do you need to lease the space but you also have to buy the computing and network capacity required to duplicate your critical workloads. Instead, by utilizing replication technologies such as Hyper-V Replica, vSphere Replication, and other third-party VM replication technologies, you can copy your on-premises VMs to the cloud, allowing you to take advantage of the cloud’s low-cost storage and geographical distribution.
High Availability (HA) — The hybrid cloud has also changed the way that IT can implement HA. While DR is designed to protect your organization from site-level outages, HA is intended to enhance the business continuity of critical workloads. Several companies provide near real-time replication of on-premises VMs to the cloud, enabling you to rapidly failover to those cloud-based VMs in the event of a local server failure. Likewise, technologies such as SQL Server’s AlwaysOn Availability Groups enable you to improve availability by extending the protection of your critical database workloads into the hybrid cloud.
Cloud Bursting — One of the more recent ways that the hybrid cloud has impacted IT is through the use of cloud bursting. Many businesses have periods in which their business activities, such as new product launches, marketing campaigns, holidays, or other initiatives, temporary boost the demands on their computing resources. Cloud bursting is a hybrid cloud technology that allows an application running in a private cloud or local data center to extend (or “burst”) out to the public cloud when the demand for computing capacity spikes. Cloud bursting enables your organization to handle temporary workload increases by extending your local infrastructure using scalable cloud resources without the need to purchase additional local computing resources.