Hybrid clouds can offer flexibility, while minimizing security risks

Many businesses wish to take advantage of cloud computing services to cut costs and improve agility, but are concerned about the security risks of moving data off of the internal network. However, a different type of cloud service gaining popularity could give businesses the best of both worlds: 

The hybrid cloud.

A hybrid cloud service is one that combines elements of a private cloud (in which all applications and data remain on the company’s own network) and a public cloud (in which everything is hosted by a third party).

For example, companies may use a public cloud service to store archived data, while the most sensitive, mission-critical data remains on a private cloud behind the organization’s firewall. A hybrid cloud can combine those two storage areas into an integrated system so they can function as if they were located on the same network.

Other cloud services might allow data to be stored in the company’s private cloud, while applications that use that data are hosted by the service provider.

Another use for the hybrid cloud model: Using a private cloud to handle normal workloads, while having space available in a public cloud to handle spikes when extra capacity is needed. That type of hybrid cloud was advocated by Allan Leinwand, CTO of infrastructure engineering for Zynga, who spoke at the recent Interop IT conference in Las Vegas.

Zynga is the supplier of popular games such as Farmville and Words With Friends. While usual workloads are handled on the company’s own private cloud, when game activity reaches unexpected levels, Leinwand said, some of the traffic is offloaded to a public cloud from Amazon Web Services.

Using a hybrid cloud that way can prevent companies from having to spend a lot on extra in-house computing capacity that they almost never use — or from running into serious problems when they don’t have what it takes to handle big spikes in workloads.

Has your organization considered using hybrid cloud computing? For what purpose? Let us know in the comments section below.

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