More than half of all corporate data is stored in the cloud. Chances are you use the cloud yourself too. Since public clouds are risky and relying on private ones is expensive, more and more people are driving their business to hybrid clouds. So, what are the risks and benefits of the hybrid cloud?
A hybrid cloud combines a public cloud and a private cloud. People tend to choose this type of cloud environment because of their flexibility and performance, though it comes with certain risks, such as possible misconfiguration and incompatibility issues.
There’s no denying going down the hybrid cloud route is the best option for people who want a fast and reliable storage option for their apps and data. That doesn’t mean you should dive head-first into picking this option before learning more about it.
- Public Cloud. It’s the most common type of cloud storage and the one average users often choose. Common public cloud providers include the biggest companies in tech, such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. It follows a subscription-based model. This type of cloud is perfect for a lot of things, though it’s far from ideal for handling sensitive data (because the infrastructure is shared among multiple customers).
- Private Cloud. Unlike public clouds, private alternatives serve one customer alone. In other words, the infrastructure is dedicated to one user or company alone and is not shared with anyone else other than that customer. This model provides more control and privacy, albeit it comes at a much higher cost.
- Hybrid Cloud. The sweet spot between public and private environments is hybrid clouds. These storage alternatives pick the best from both of the options listed above: for example, they use the infrastructure of a public cloud to deal with customers and a private cloud to host sensitive data. Certain companies also use on-premise servers to complement their hybrid cloud.
A hybrid cloud is often confused with a multi-cloud environment – but certain features set them apart.
Hybrid cloud storage is a combination of a public cloud, a private cloud, and on-premise storage sites. In contrast, a multi-cloud is a combination of multiple public and private clouds that come from different providers.
For example, a company running an environment that features cloud services from Amazon and Google isn’t using a hybrid cloud but a multi-cloud environment. The same would be said if that company had two private clouds from different providers or any number of public and private clouds from multiple providers.
However, if that same company had hired AWS and a private cloud, you could call that a hybrid cloud instead of a multi-cloud. In other words, hybrid cloud storage is a combination of private and public cloud storage – and a multi-cloud is a combination of a number of public and private clouds (more than one of each).
- Compliance. Certain businesses and companies have to follow very strict compliance guidelines, which often talk about the way you store sensitive data. If that’s the case, you probably need to host your app or software using a hybrid cloud – because public clouds are too much of a risk for certain things (such as storing financial or medical data). Simply put, choosing a hybrid cloud puts you in a better compliance-related spot than other options.
- Flexibility. The best hybrid cloud providers will give you plenty of perks and other options for you to pick from, granting you greater flexibility when it comes to hosting your app and running your business. Does that mean you have to pay for all of that? Of course not! You will only pay for what you pick, which is always a plus.
- Performance. What’s one of the best parts about hiring a provider to deal with all your cloud-related needs? You’ll always have the best software and hardware at hand (as long as you pick the best options in the business). That means you’ll have sky-high performance and should suffer from little to no issues. Those looking to expand often have the chance to do so quickly when using a hybrid cloud environment.
Let’s say you’re the CEO of a bank. Your company has a large online presence and handles a lot of sensitive data as well. You can probably imagine you can’t host your customers’ information and your iOS app on the same cloud (for compliance and security reasons).
So, what do you do? You create a cloud environment that allows agility, privacy, and security. In other words, a hybrid cloud.
You divide that environment in two: hire a public cloud provider (such as Amazon or Microsoft) to handle the non-sensitive side of your business (e.g., host the part of your infrastructure customers can access) and a few other things. The private cloud will host sensitive data (e.g., private information about customers).
Experts believe cloud storage is secure, but that doesn’t mean you should trust your cloud provider to take care of everything. Most companies follow a shared responsibility model, meaning you must take care of your end to keep your data safe.
How can you take care of your end when choosing a hybrid cloud storage? Be mindful of who has access, be wary of who gets authorizations, and monitor your environment to detect suspicious activity.
Knowing how to protect your cloud environment is the same as knowing how to clean your phone of viruses: you need the right software to deal with an active threat, though the best-case scenario would be employing active prevention to avoid issues before they happen.
Misconfiguration issues tend to run rampant in most complex environments, and you can probably guess linking multiple cloud storages under one system is the perfect example of such a thing.
This type of issue is troubling – but far from devastating (if you handle it properly). Audits and tests are the best way to figure out where the configuration has been poorly dealt with. Certain software products can also take care of that issue most of the time.
One of the most common cloud-related misconfiguration issues we see has to do with open ports. You should close all ports first, then open the ones you deem necessary, not the other way around.
Hybrid cloud storage often has a lot of moving parts, and we mean a lot: public information, private data, customer access, company authorizations, and more.
In fact, most companies look for hybrid clouds because they have to deal with a lot of moving parts, so it’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
That’s not a bad thing, but it’s something that should keep you on your toes. The more complex a system is, the more testing it needs. Our advice for this issue? Take your time to do research before you deploy your system – and take even more time before you release it to the public.
Studies show almost all cloud issues will be the customer’s fault by 2025. In other words, cloud providers have the best software and hardware to keep their end of the bargain, so you have to watch your actions if you want to avoid trouble.
Cloud storage is a competitive multi-billion-dollar industry. None of the biggest companies want to lose a single customer to their competition, so you better believe they have tight security protocols.
What does that mean? Any issues from your hybrid cloud environment likely happened because of your company’s actions. That’s why we always recommend training your employees!
One of the biggest issues hybrid cloud users can face is any sort of incompatibility between apps, software, or frameworks. This type of cloud, by definition, is made up of at least two environments (and, sometimes, plenty more), which means compatibility issues may appear.
How can you fix hybrid cloud compatibility issues? First, test your apps before going live. In other words, don’t wait until customers report these problems to you – address them beforehand! Second, continue to test your apps after launching them, so you can find possible exploits before threat actors do.
The best way to deal with this issue (and the other three on this list) is to follow hybrid cloud best practices.
- Audit Your Cloud Environment. What’s the best way to deal with misconfiguration and compatibility issues? Audit your cloud. Hire third-party auditors to tell you what you’re doing wrong. Fix it and schedule another audit sometime soon. Regular audits keep you from having trouble (such as compliance issues and software- and hardware-related mistakes).
- Have Plenty of Backups. Did you know having one backup is the same as having none? You can’t trust having one escape plan when a crisis hits. The most dangerous threat actors take their time to plan an attack, and they often target backup servers to do the most damage. You need to back up your cloud environment – in multiple locations if possible.
- Train Your Employees. We often repeat this advice because it can save your company: train your employees. Do so once every quarter if possible. Tech moves fast, employees have a lot on their minds, and you can’t leave this part to chance. Employee training drastically reduces the chance of a data breach.
A hybrid cloud environment presents many benefits and a few risks companies should weigh before choosing this or any other option. Following best practices, such as doing audits and backing up data, helps mitigate said risks. Companies may have no choice but to choose hybrid cloud storage due to compliance issues and other needs.