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Four Dangers of the Hybrid Cloud

There’s no doubt that most businesses have been adopting a hybrid cloud strategy over the past couple of years and it’s also likely that this trend will continue to grow in the foreseeable future. The hybrid cloud offers businesses a lot of benefits such as being used for offsite storage or disaster recovery.

In addition, many products today enable you to seamlessly extend your on-premise solutions into the cloud. However, even though there are a lot of benefits in moving to the hybrid cloud there are definitely some dangers as well. Let’s take a closer look at four of the dangers that can threaten a successful hybrid cloud implementation and some ways you can address them.

  1. Unexpected costs – One of the first dangers that you can run into with the hybrid cloud is costs. While it’s true that the cloud offers relatively low-cost storage and can reduce an organization’s need for CapEx expenditures, the cloud is not free. Although cloud storage tends to cost less than local storage most cloud costs are for compute usage and data flow. This can result in unexpected expenses if you’re not prepared for it. The major cloud providers like Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS provide calculators to help you to estimate your cloud usage costs. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these results are estimates. Your actual usage can be different. Before jumping into the hybrid cloud it’s important to know how much compute, storage and network bandwidth that you expect to use.
  2. Increased complexity – Another danger in adopting the hybrid cloud is an increase in complexity. Even though the cloud clearly has benefits, adding another element to your infrastructure has repercussions. You need to decide which pieces of your organization’s processing to move to the cloud. It could be as simple as just using low-cost cloud storage for backups or it could be more complex like splitting your application processes between on-premise infrastructure and the cloud. No matter which path you take there’s no doubt that the addition of the cloud also requires the addition of a corresponding set of cloud expertise and skills which your organization needs to prepare for.
  3. Lack of compliance – The hybrid cloud can also change your compliance requirements. For instance, if your compliance standards require than all patient data be continuously encrypted and then you split part of your database between on-premise and the cloud you can run the risk of being out of compliance. While your local storage may have been encrypted and compliant you also need to be sure that your cloud storage is encrypted as well. In addition, the network traffic might need to be encrypted. Beyond encryption, some regulatory standards also have searching and data archiving requirements that you need to be aware of.
  4. Potential security exposures – Finally, the ubiquitous nature of the cloud essentially enables global access to your cloud resources which can allow potential access for anyone anywhere. This is vastly different than local resources where you have much more restricted control of access through the use of physical security, firewalls and VPNs. You need to make sure you have strong authentication for all of your hybrid cloud resources by taking advantage of Azure Active Directory to extend your corporate authentication to the cloud. You might possibly consider the addition of two-factor identification. You should also be sure to utilize encryption for all of your cloud storage to guard against unauthorized data access.

While the security and redundancy provided with hybrid cloud setups is clearly documented, it’s important to keep these risk-factors in mind as you design your new environment.

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Michael Otey is president of TECA, a technical content production, consulting and software development company in Portland,
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