Hybrid heats up as a semi-cloud approach to data security and business continuity

Is data better off in the cloud, or better off remaining on premises?

No doubt about it, hybrid is hot. The latest data from the Flexera-Rightscale survey on cloud adoption finds enterprises "are prioritizing a balance of public and private clouds." This year, while 31 percent of enterprises see public cloud as their top priority, a combined 45 percent of enterprises see hybrid cloud or a balanced approach between public and private as their biggest focus. Over the past year, the percentage of enterprises planning a hybrid cloud strategy grew to from 51 percent to 58 percent. 

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Photo: Joe McKendrick

What does it take to establish a well-balanced hybrid cloud strategy? Some things are perfect for cloud, other things are better off remaining on premises. Where does one draw the line?  

First of all, it's important to keep things in perspective -- going cloud for cloud's sake accomplishes very little, "Cloud is an architecture -- not a destination or location," states Andres Rodriguez, CTO of Nasuni. Keep things closely tied to the business -- especially when it comes to data, agrees Pete Salamanca, VP of cloud services at Apps Associates. "Data management in a hybrid cloud environment should be approached by first looking at the type of data your company has and then determine its purpose."  

Among the use cases for hybrid cloud, data security tops the list. "You keep certain highly confidential data on premises, and externalizable data in a public cloud," says Glauber Costa, VP of field engineering for ScyllaDB. "This approach might be good for applications where a read-only set or read-write subset of data is being shared with third parties like suppliers, customers, vendors or other business ecosystem partners."

The security options offered through hybrid clouds draw from the best of both worlds. "The security perimeter in hybrid cloud is designed to work from the points of access to the cloud rather than in the cloud," Rodriguez.points out. "This is what allows the mix of private and public deployments without incurring additional security risks." For instance, network-attached storage (NAS) systems can take advantage of cloud scalability while maintaining on-premises access controls. "Hybrid-cloud enabled NAS has no scale limits, supports unlimited immutable versioning and can synchronized files across any number of locations: on-premises or in the cloud," Rodriguez states. "CIOs once viewed cloud as a security concern. Today, cloud, public or private, is the safest place to put your data." 

When it comes to data, Rodriguez adds, "a hybrid cloud architecture allows for unlimited immutable snapshots that are the last line of defense for mission-critical files. This eliminates the threat of ransomware attacks and the reliance on expensive and complex backup and DR systems."  

Another use case --and justification for hybrid cloud --  is business continuity and disaster recovery. "Here, an internal system may be the primary one for users," says Costa. "Only in case of disaster would users fail over to the public application as a hot standby. You would need to continually operate such a service, but you wouldn't need to operate it under load until disaster hit." A third use case, he says, is for "burst traffic management and capacity planning."

Enterprises "have the ability to deploy their IT assets across many public and private cloud platforms to achieve a distributed level of DR, cost savings for environments that have the ability to be flexed during peak and non-peak hours and segregation of assets that may require deeper physical access and control," according to Salamanca. "As a result of mix-cloud environments, there remains a unique advantage and freedom to mix-and-match where applications live for companies who are ready to put some applications with providers and others on-premise to manage."