Is the Hybrid Cloud Right for Your Business?

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Hybrid clouds combine your data center with the public cloud resources. Hybrid clouds are seen by an intermediate step from the data center to the public cloud migration by some analysts. Some analysts say that going all-public cloud is an utopia and the hybrid cloud is the real cloud application. Leaving the analysts and experts aside and thinking just for your business, is the hybrid cloud the right strategy for your business?

The first and foremost consideration is the location of  the data: can you trust the cloud? With your own four-walled data center, you are the one who is ultimately controlling your data. In cases where your company has to maintain strict controls, or your budget does not allow further data center expansion or you need computing power, you can use the cloud’s computing resources and keep your data in the data center. One of the scenarios could be to use the public cloud computing resources for your big data applications but to keep the data and the storage in your data center.

Hybrid clouds are the best way to test your business strategies if you are not hundred percent sure about going all-public cloud (and you should not be hundred percent sure) you can use a few public cloud providers’ services/APIs to test some scenarios. The results of  those scenarios and your experiences will be a valuable input in your decisions. There is no rule about how much data to store or how much computing power to use in the cloud, therefore structure your scenarios, decide on your timeline and experiment.

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You might be thinking about making a capital investment for a temporary necessity. This necessity could be a project, an upward sales trend or a utilization, such as a sales trend during a season. In any case, you can utilize the public cloud offerings to expand your existing IT infrastructure and then shrink as necessary.

The data center expansion requirement might not be due to the temporary necessities but for geographic necessities as well. Your business might already be multinational (or planning to be) with specific requirements such as local storage of data. For today (August 2014), my country has one such specific requirement: businesses must store data, emails and documents where Turkish Republic Laws govern. That means, you have to build a data center in Turkey or you can design a hybrid cloud solution where you can both comply with the requirements and keep your business processes in your company.

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The expansion might also be for redundancy purposes. Redundancy and business continuity solutions are very expensive.  A hybrid cloud can dramatically reduce your costs by utilizing the cloud resources. Instead of purchasing two of everything (server, switches, routers, cables, staff) you can route your needs to a cloud provider. Since you will be paying as-you-go to the cloud provider, you can keep your cloud resources to a minimum and thus have relatively low costs compared to a full-scale investment. When you have a failure, disaster or any downtime in your data center you can purchase more resources from the cloud provider and continue your work without any interruption.

One another use of the hybrid cloud, which many companies do not think about is using the cloud for the commodity solutions. Assume that you have a unique pricing system which operates in the core of your business and it is strictly tied to your existing customer relationship management (CRM) application. Instead of keeping all the functions in house, you can leverage cloud CRM solutions and focus only on your pricing systems. Not only you will reduce your IT resources to improve your existing business, you will also have the opportunity to reduce your costs with your mobile strategies/applications.

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When you need innovation (and you need it) it is costly to purchase and provision test systems. On the other hand, you already have a high value in your existing infrastructure: business processes, partner and customer access, routing tables and the like. By deploying hybrid cloud solutions you save your company from both purchasing test systems and from the risk of breaking anything in your existing systems.

Here are some of the questions I ask to my clients in their cloud questions. Have your company tried/implemented any hybrid cloud solution? What are your experiences? What are your concerns/questions? Hit the comments below!

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