Getting started with hybrid cloud

We caught up with IBM partner IT Naturally’s CEO Julie Bishop and Head of Technology David Todd so we could ask them the big questions around hybrid cloud.

Just a few short months after IT infrastructure solutions provider IT Naturally launched, the UK went into lockdown. This didn’t stop the team that, like so many other businesses, had quickly changed to 100% remote working. Immediately at the start of lockdown they successfully migrated more than 100 servers and 75TB of data from a customer’s private cloud to a new IBM cloud instance in less than 30 days. This sets the scene for our two Meet the Insider interviewees, Julie Bishop and David Todd, who discussed what hybrid cloud is and the benefits that adopting this approach delivers.

Private cloud vs. public cloud?

Private cloud is dedicated to a single customer, either on-premises or in a vendor’s datacentre, whereas public cloud is shared by multiple customers and is owned and managed by a third party. There are pros and cons to both environments, but it’s the combination of both that can make the sum of cloud computing bigger than the parts.

Migration to the cloud has been playing a key role in modernising IT infrastructure for a number of years now. Not sector specific, businesses and organisations of all shapes and sizes are joining the cloud revolution. The benefits more often than not include cost reduction and ability to be more agile, flexible and scalable. It is helping businesses to be better at what they do.

What is the difference between multicloud and hybrid cloud environments?

It’s probably fair to say that every business has multicloud, whether they know it or not! This could take the form of using web-based email, teleconferencing and even social media platforms. All these applications are in the public cloud – likely a mix of different public clouds, hence multicloud. This is the main difference, as hybrid cloud is made up of a mix of public and private cloud. The other defining factor of hybrid is that it always has a private element, which multicloud does not.

One of the key benefits of both approaches to cloud is that businesses aren’t locked into one provider, there is less reliance and more flexibility to create cloud environments that facilitate innovation and growth. Taking a hybrid or multicloud approach is often considered to be a more cost-effective route than being tied into a single vendor approach.

Defining your hybrid cloud strategy

It’s important to use the right type of cloud environment for the right purpose. There is much to consider, including security, PCI compliance, GDPR, accessibility, latency and geo location – is it important to store all your data in the UK? – all will help to define the type of cloud environment that is fit for purpose. For any environment, a business must take responsibility for ensuring appropriate security is implemented, monitored and maintained.

When building services in the public cloud, a business should consider any vendor specific or nascent technologies used may affect the ability to move those workloads to another cloud provider or to private cloud in the future. And not all clouds are created equal! One public cloud may better suit a business’ customer facing applications, whilst another their systems of record.

A good illustration of the type of breakdown of public vs. private could be to use the public cloud for Software as a Service applications, but it may be more cost effective to use the private cloud to store data on premise that is accessed regularly, as there may be costs associated with retrieving data. Which is another thing to watch out for; the potential for hidden costs when utilising the public cloud. With all this opportunity and flexibility, comes a cloud environment that can grow quickly, but will take effort to manage, and costs can quickly escalate.

What is the best way to sum up hybrid cloud?

Hybrid cloud is a versatile environment that allows for complete flexibility. From highly secure on-premises cloud environments, through to cost effective cloud bursting in the public cloud for those times when extra computing capacity is required. The other aspect not touched on, is how using a hybrid cloud approach allows for ownership of infrastructure, while also benefiting from being able to adopt the very latest technologies without having to invest in new, costly on-premises infrastructure to do so. Hybrid cloud really is the best of both worlds and with a plethora of options available take your time and make your decisions wisely.