The concept of hybrid work patterns was born out of the shift to WFH that most of us got a taste of during the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Hybrid’ helped companies and their employees to come to terms with the notion that, as with many things in our world today, the ideal we are searching for should not be seen as black and white, or all online or offline. Instead, the ideal for most organisations sits on a spectrum, and each company has to strike the right balance with the right tools to suit their specific circumstances and offering. The same is true when we apply the word ‘hybrid’ to cloud services.
In the context of cloud, a hybrid solution refers to a mix of computing, storage, solutions, and service environments. This mix might be represented by a combination of on-premise digital infrastructure, a private cloud, and access to a public cloud such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform or Amazon Web Services. When we advise our customers on which solution is right for them, we often find them surprised at the idea of utilising a range of services instead of one. To the uninitiated, it appears to represent a hike in costs, a drop in security, and a risk to their data integrity. The reality, however, is that a hybrid solution is usually the best way to ensure that companies are running in a cost-effective manner and are fit to scale. Here are some points to consider if you want to make sure your cloud solution is on point.
Most organisations look upon public clouds as being reliable solutions for their business needs, while also offering scalability (both up and down) that’s difficult to match. On top of that, there’s the obvious benefit of not having to expend so much capital to get set up. It's true that AWS, GCP and Azure, among others, have seen a huge upswing in adoption in recent years, and, for many, the heavyweights are the go-to option when it comes to implementing a no-fuss solution.
However, there are certain risks associated with the cloud – top of the list being that, whichever way you look at it, your precious data is in the hands of another entity. You never know exactly where it is, or who might have access to it. This can be enough of a concern to put off those who handle commercially sensitive data or seek to protect the information of their users and customers. The other problem is the costly sting of scaling. As your business grows and you seek to expand your space in the cloud, you may find that the rate hike makes scaling prohibitively expensive.
Another issue we have seen is with the inflexibility on tariffs when it comes to spikes. There are plenty of businesses who find themselves dealing with heavier data usage at certain times of the day, week, month or even year. And, in these cases, you are at the mercy of your cloud provider’s premium on ensuring that flexibility. We have found that many businesses are paying over the odds for their cloud when they change their tariff to manage a spike and find that they are unable (or forget) to change it back again.
A cloud of your very own
So, what if you set up your own cloud infrastructure – either through a third-party service, or in an off-premise data centre? Obviously, this ensures that your data will be a lot more secure than in the public cloud, and it allows for a lot more customisation and flexibility when it comes to dealing with spikes in demand. However, people are often put off by the price associated with setting up, forgetting that, over time, they stand to achieve a lower opex as compared to being exposed to the spiralling rates associated with scaling on the public cloud. Also, you should consider that data responsibility should always be factored into your own business continuity plan.
A hybrid solution offers two key differentiators which neither private nor public cloud can match – agility and cost-effectiveness. If you operate a business which needs to be able to adapt quickly to changing situations, rapid growth, and spikes in usage – this is probably the solution for you. Of course, when it comes to businesses which depend on data, it’s hard to think of an example which doesn’t need to adapt, pivot, and scale. It’s in their very DNA. By leveraging the power of public and private clouds, and combining it with on-premises resources, you can attain the agility you need to gain a competitive advantage.
Most companies deal with data of different levels of sensitivity. Some may be less sensitive than others, and a hybrid cloud solution can give you the flexibility you need to store sensitive data on your own servers and cloud without the associated costs for storing all of your data there.
The effectiveness of a hybrid solution can only be achieved by first identifying the way your business operates, from its core processes to how data are managed. Softline’s experts give guidance on how to find the right combination of tools for businesses in all sectors. And we’ve also seen that it’s essential to support our customers beyond the implementation stage by regularly checking that the mix is just right. After all, good businesses change all the time, as does the world around them. When it comes to digital businesses, taking your eye off the ball can mean that you may be spending a lot more money than you need to.