What is hybrid cloud?

Hybrid cloud is a computing environment that combines on-premises, private cloud, and public cloud services. These services can be efficiently and securely integrated.

Hybrid cloud allows organizations to take advantage of existing investments in on-premises data and application access while providing secure access to platforms and services from one or more other cloud service providers on the public internet. The public and private cloud infrastructures operate independently of each other and use encryption when communicating across networks. Hybrid cloud deployments support technology for data and application portability so organizations can continue to benefit from existing on-premise investments in security, access, and data management.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology defines hybrid cloud as: “…a composition of two or more distinct cloud infrastructures (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities, but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability. ”

There are four ‘typical’ cloud deployment methodologies.

A private cloud is comprised of hardware and software services deployed in a non-public environment. Most enterprise environments already include a ‘private cloud’ where applications and services are accessed over a private, well-connected network. These environments are typically hosted on privately owned hardware resources and may be locally deployed within an organization, or could be hosted elsewhere. Chances are your organization already has a private cloud. This model is not the most cost-efficient solution, but shows tremendous security value.

A public cloud is a true cloud model; the services and infrastructure are 100% cloud-hosted and made available to clients over the Internet. These services and platforms are provisioned exclusively for remote consumption. Public cloud is best suited for business requirements where management of high demands, application hosting, sandbox developing and testing for applications, and management of applications that are consumed by large groups of users that would otherwise require significant investment in infrastructure. This model helps to reduce capital expenses and bring down operational IT costs.

A hybrid cloud is a combination of different cloud offerings. The biggest challenge is the integration of the different cloud services and technologies, and securing access and identity management. As this model gains popularity and adapts, many services and platforms have standardized and distributed APIs that can be leveraged to address most of these issues. Hybrid cloud provisioning can be very complex, or very straightforward, depending upon the number of applications, storage, governance, and access control requirements.

Community cloud computing refers to a shared cloud computing service environment that is targeted to a defined set of organizations or employees who share data needs. Gartner states that “…members of the community generally share similar security, privacy, performance and compliance requirements.” For example, various state and local government agencies requiring access to the same data relating to the populace or information related to infrastructure, like hospitals, roads, electrical stations, weather, etc., can utilize a community cloud to manage applications and data. This model offers some cost savings over private cloud provisioning, as the services are available to a larger, more diverse group of users.

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