For small businesses looking to scale quickly, maintain their current physical footprint, and move IT from a capital expense to an operational one, cloud services can provide a safe and cost-effective solution. A hybrid solution is particularly appropriate for organizations that have a healthy IT budget and infrastructure; the main value of hybrid cloud lies in supporting a company with a digital business transformation strategy.
Hybrid cloud refers to a mixed computing, storage, and services environment that includes on-premises infrastructure, private cloud resources, and public cloud resources. The approach can result in cost savings, but companies that opt for hybrid models are first looking to modernize and improve current operations.
Worldwide, cloud infrastructure investment is expected to see end-user spending increase from $82B this year to $223B in 2025, according to Gartner. Much of the growth will come from small businesses that rely on cloud resources for storage. When properly deployed, infrastructure-as-a-service can help decentralize storage and minimize outages, and it helps firms with limited IT staff to manage resources across multiple locations. Hybrid solutions also offer better security measures than many on-premises environments.
Overall spending on cloud solutions will outpace that of on-premises options, but some companies are wary of embracing an all-cloud environment because they want more control over their data and because they've invested in on-premises equipment. A hybrid environment provides the best of both solutions: the security of private resources with the flexibility and convenience of running front-end applications — such as productivity tools, project management and CRM — in the public cloud.
A hybrid cloud offers the flexibility to support remote and distributed employees with on-demand access to data. Core or sensitive data can be held securely on private or on-premises servers while key applications and services may be available on the public cloud and accessible from anywhere with the proper credentials. Companies can select the optimal environment for each application and move workloads between clouds as needed.
This flexibility can be especially advantageous for seasonal businesses. The hybrid cloud option helps an organization avoid the huge capital expenditure necessary to maintain infrastructure that's only needed during spikes in demand, mitigating those costs with pay-as-you-go cloud resources. Cloud settings can also be configured to respond automatically to changes in demand, further optimizing performance and efficiency.
A hybrid solution allows a business to select where to house their data — privately or publicly — while adhering to compliance, policy, and security requirements. Subscribers only pay for the amount of cloud storage they consume.
A hybrid environment also lets IT security teams standardize their redundant cloud storage activity, which is critical for disaster recovery planning and data insurance. For example, because information is shared across multiple data centers and servers, it may be accessible even when an entire data center goes offline. And, in the case of a disaster, infrastructure is still accessible via the internet.
All that storage flexibility means that security is improved, because data exposure is controlled and limited. Centralized management, which characterizes a hybrid cloud, makes it simpler to implement strong technical security measures -- including encryption, automation, access control, two-factor authentication, and endpoint security -- across all elements of the environment.
Including cloud in the infrastructure strategy frees up IT staff from maintenance chores ('keeping the lights on'), allowing them to work on higher-value projects, such as supporting customer experiences or developing innovative applications.
SMBs with resources to invest in digital transformation should consider implementing hybrid cloud infrastructure to better support their operations. In 2020, companies embraced a work-from-home strategy for many workers; a hybrid cloud configuration can help accommodate remote workers efficiently and securely.
Overall, a hybrid approach helps companies get the most value out of legacy systems by integrating them with cloud infrastructure and apps, resulting in greater agility for our rapidly changing world.