Welcome to our new blog series, “The Fundamentals.” Most, but not all of you who regularly read our blogs are technical experts, and we publish the majority of posts for you. We are starting this series to engage business users—or your non-technical relatives—who have limited familiarity with but are still interested in technical topics.

Cloud-based solutions have become the norm for companies across the globe. More specifically, a recent Forrester study indicates 88% of organizations are adopting a hybrid IT approach, and 89% acknowledge that adoption includes a dedicated hybrid cloud strategy. How are IT infrastructure and ops teams managing data, applications, and infrastructure across the complexity of a hybrid cloud environment? For many, a quick look at a hybrid cloud example or two holds the answer.

First, what is hybrid cloud computing? Why are more and more organizations making the switch? And how might a hybrid cloud solution look within your company? Let’s find out.

What is hybrid cloud?

Hybrid cloud solutions combine public cloud hosting from an IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) provider—like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform (GCP)—with an internal private cloud. These public and private clouds each have their own separate data centers, housed in different geographic locations. The two interact via a robust encrypted connection that enables applications, data, and other information to move between each system.

For a good, quick introduction, watch this video explaining the differences between public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud:

It’s important to note that a hybrid cloud does not refer to a single cloud with public and private features; rather, a hybrid cloud solution joins two individual cloud systems together. Some companies adopt this solution as one way to store, process, and interact with protected, extremely sensitive, or regulated data on a private cloud while continuing to leverage functionalities and resources from a public cloud service.

A few years ago, hybrid cloud solutions were really the only way that companies were using the cloud, and it was an effective stepping stone to cloud adoption. With more and more companies today moving to the cloud, a hybrid cloud model remains a popular option. According to a recent survey by RightScale, 91% of organizations are using public cloud solutions in some way, and 69% of them are using a hybrid cloud approach.

The benefits of hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud solutions deliver the best of both worlds, resulting in a number of unique benefits:

  • Instead of entrusting all aspects of your IT infrastructure to a third-party provider, companies retain full control over select data.
  • One of the most significant private cloud network barriers to entry is the upfront investment required to build, maintain, and eventually extend the network. With hybrid cloud architectures, businesses can take advantage of the expansive power of public cloud services to quickly provision additional computing resources as needed.
  • Some industries have specific geographic compliance requirements that specify where data must be stored, while others insist data be stored locally or regionally (as is the case with some EU compliance regulations), while still others may require data to be geographically distributed for backup, redundancy, and disaster-recovery reasons. A hybrid cloud model makes it easier to be in compliance with such requirements.

Examples of hybrid cloud use

Whatever industry you operate in or business model you subscribe to, your organization is likely to benefit from the many compelling advantages that hybrid cloud solutions offer. Here are four examples of hybrid cloud use cases to get you thinking:

1. On-premises security meets cloud flexibility in the financial services industry

Organizations operating in the financial services industry have a lot to gain from a hybrid approach. For example, the private cloud can be used to process trade orders and store sensitive client and company information. The public cloud could then be used for hosting less important or less sensitive applications of your business, giving you the adaptability you need. While I personally believe that public clouds have the ability to provide the same level of security as private clouds (and I’ve written on this topic previously), it is clear that many in the financial services sector do not or cannot rely on the public cloud for critical data and transactions.

2. Critical scalability for e-commerce websites’ biggest days

For e-commerce businesses, processing sales data can be resource-intensive. What’s more, unpredictable workloads are not uncommon—sales typically spike during holiday shopping periods such as Black Friday and other peak times. It’s during these “moments of truth” when the scalability offered by a hybrid cloud model is most critical.

3. Reduce latency by getting closer to the end user

Many companies benefit from a public cloud network as it affords their service better coverage and performance for users across a vast geographical area. By deploying an application across several distinct locations, the end user enjoys reduced latency—wherever they are in the world.

4. Data storage and processing compliancy for healthcare providers

For those operating in the healthcare industry, adhering to strict data regulations and compliances is crucial. Private cloud solutions offer the level of security required, while a connected public cloud ensures healthcare facilities, insurance providers, and other interested parties can access the potentially lifesaving information they need, when they need it.

Is hybrid cloud suitable for all businesses?

Hybrid cloud isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. A hybrid cloud deployment model that works for one business may not be suitable for another, even if they are operating in the same industry.

Your approach to hybrid cloud can affect your requirements for monitoring performance of applications and infrastructure. To learn more, read The Many Paths to the Hybrid Cloud.

Lee Atchison is the Senior Director, Cloud Architecture at New Relic. For the last eight years he has helped design and build a solid service-based product architecture that scaled from startup to high traffic public enterprise. Lee has 32 years of industry experience, including seven years as a Senior Manager at Amazon.com, and has consulted with leading organizations on how to modernize their application architectures and transform their organizations at scale. He is the author of the O’Reilly book Architecting for Scale and author of the blog Lee@Scale. View posts by .

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