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Hybrid cloud: What it is, what it does and hybrid cloud use cases

Hybrid cloud is one of the biggest buzzwords in IT today, but what exactly is a hybrid cloud, and how should you implement it? Learn that and more with this hybrid cloud primer.

Hybrid cloud has been on the tip of nearly every IT professional's tongue since the concept first hit the scene in the early 2000s. In essence, the term hybrid cloud refers to any environment that mixes private and public cloud services, though it can also refer to the ability to connect colocation to dedicated services with cloud resources. The hybrid cloud model owes its popularity to its ability to provide greater flexibility, its resource automation, the way it maximizes containers, its relatively low cost and its testing and development benefits.

Want to learn more about what a hybrid cloud is, hybrid cloud use cases and benefits? Start by reading these five quick tips.

What is hybrid cloud computing?

Cloud computing has become an immediately recognizable term in modern IT that refers to a broad range of technologies that deliver hosted services over the internet. Included in this broad range are three classes of cloud computing: public, private and hybrid. The first class, public cloud, is made up of publicly-available IT resources and provides greater levels of automation and orchestration than traditional hosting. The second class, private cloud, is similar in nature to the public cloud, with the exception that it's dedicated to a single organization; private cloud is also highly resilient. The third and final class, hybrid cloud, allows workloads to coexist on either a vendor-run public cloud or a customer-run private cloud. The hybrid part of hybrid cloud comes from its networking; software-defined networking and hybrid WAN technologies are just two of the technologies that help ensure networking connectivity in a hybrid cloud.

Is there such thing as a true hybrid cloud?

Just as there is no absolute definition for cloud computing, the concept of the hybrid cloud is equally broad and subject to interpretation, depending on whom you ask. To some, it's an offering that uses automation and orchestration to take your on-premises cloud and infrastructure and extend it to the public cloud. To others, hybrid cloud refers to any IT services hosted in both public and private locations. Some even say that the hybrid cloud is an extension of private cloud services, and that the definition of a hybrid cloud depends on how you use in-house and off-site cloud. Although there isn't a definitive answer to what a true hybrid cloud is, the general consensus is that it's more complicated than just running workloads on and off premises, and that hybrid cloud will remain a buzzword for some time to come.

Assess your business's hybrid cloud needs

Just as there is no absolute definition for cloud computing, the concept of the hybrid cloud is equally broad and subject to interpretation, depending on whom you ask.

A hybrid cloud platform is appealing to businesses because it can provide greater workflow agility, departmental autonomy and better security, but, as with all major purchasing decisions, buyers must first gauge whether the value of hybrid cloud merits the cost. The best way to do this is to figure out which hybrid cloud deployment and management tools your business needs; this depends on what you intend to use a hybrid cloud platform for. Some popular hybrid use cases include cloud bursting, security and compliance requirements, cost control, testing and development and storage capacity. Keep in mind that each of these hybrid cloud use cases comes with its own unique challenges.

VMware takes a big step forward with NSX

For an example of how businesses are implementing hybrid cloud, look no further than VMware. With a recent dip in revenue for its flagship vSphere product, the virtualization company has pinned its hopes on the latest version of NSX. This version of the networking and security product will allegedly allow customers to apply NSX security to Amazon Web Services (AWS) workloads. Hybrid cloud networking plays an important role in the future of NSX because it bridges the gap between private and public clouds, creating an overlay between in-house servers and AWS and allowing users to manage different end points homogenously.

Big in 2017: Hybrid cloud management

As the hybrid cloud model continues to gain momentum in enterprise IT, hybrid cloud management tools have become a priority. Projections from the market research firm MarketsandMarkets indicate that global spending on multicloud management will increase exponentially by 2021, and for good reason -- hybrid cloud management platforms make it easier to consistently apply policy changes and automate operations in multicloud environments. As the line between private and public cloud continues to blur and the hybrid cloud model undergoes rapid changes and advancements, hybrid cloud management platforms are expected to keep pace. As a result, experts predict that 2017 will be a huge year for hybrid cloud, with more hybrid cloud use cases emerging and more management platform products hitting the market.

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