2020 saw an astounding increase in the number of businesses that had to adapt their technological infrastructure to accommodate an overwhelmingly remote infrastructure and settle in for long-term uncertainty.
The key to survival (and thrive in many cases) has been a business’s ability to adapt its IT infrastructure to maintain the same customer service levels and rapidly shifting market grounds. However, not all business models are suited to a fully cloud-native architecture. Common ground is the use of a hybrid cloud. Yet, many realize its advantages and have moved their additional workloads to the cloud using a hybrid cloud model.
This post covers some of the advantages of a hybrid cloud, why it makes sense for businesses today, and some trends that we see in 2021.
What exactly is a hybrid cloud?
Simply put, it’s a computing environment that shares data and applications between a private and public cloud. As demand fluctuates, non-sensitive and less critical workloads can move to the public cloud to handle any overflow without giving the public cloud access to the entirety of its data. Many define a hybrid cloud as the “best of both worlds.”
Why does it make sense?
Many businesses see short-term spikes in demand. For example, an eCommerce brand may see a massive spike in demand during significant shopping seasons. It does not make sense for the brand to invest in infrastructure to handle such far and few surges. A hybrid cloud allows such applications to scale their infrastructure between a private and public cloud when the demand is high. This flexibility allows companies to pay for only the services they use and use it without spending on dedicated infrastructure (which is also available if needed). Here are some of the use cases where hybrid clouds shine.
With 2020 being what it was, installing plans to mitigate business disruption is on everybody’s mind. Without the cloud, disaster recovery is often very resource-intensive. It involves spending heavily on creating and maintaining an infrastructure that customers will use sparingly.
A hybrid cloud model can make a massive difference with cost savings and flexibility. At a fraction of the cost of on-premise disaster recovery solutions, a public cloud can scale non-critical workloads while allowing you to maintain control over sensitive data. Since most cloud models offer a pay-as-you-go model, the cost savings are significant.
Security and privacy
Many businesses and organizations have concerns about their data security and privacy as they think about moving to the cloud. Compliance and regulations in their industry bind several others. However, innovation is still imminent and expected of these businesses. A hybrid cloud can help alleviate these challenges.
Highly regulated businesses such as hospitals and healthcare providers have successfully used the hybrid cloud to keep sensitive information such as patient records within the premises. In contrast, less sensitive workloads such as accounting and financial processes offload to the cloud, where it can accrue better performance and cost-savings.
More organizations continue to see the benefits of using cloud infrastructure. The cloud forms a significant part of their digital transformation plans, and many already have taken the first steps for a more responsive business. A hybrid cloud can help businesses get to market faster and show better agility in responding to customer needs.
Greater flexibility over architecture
With the cloud, it is possible to get the same performance as that of dedicated on-premise infrastructure. It is deciding which parts of the workflow you wish to keep on-premise and those that will work in the cloud that gives IT folks more control over the system’s overall architecture.
A hybrid cloud architecture also benefits from financial merits such as pay-as-you-go plans and no upfront expenditures. Unlike cloud-only solutions, a hybrid cloud architecture lets you define where multi-tenancy is acceptable.
Data processing and analytics
For organizations or the divisions that do significant data crunching and big data analytics, the cloud is a cost-effective way to reach your goals. Businesses can run some of their big data workloads in the public cloud while keeping sensitive analytics behind firewalls in private clouds.
Trends in 2021
Increasing progression of technologies such as quantum computing will make the cloud faster – with risks.
New computing technologies such as quantum computing will help make the cloud’s underlying infrastructure better and faster and, at scale, cheaper. However, miscreants can also misuse this enhanced computational power for nefarious purposes such as breaking encryption. This misuse means that the world of security and cryptography will also see breakthroughs in releasing quantum-safe algorithms.
An increase in AI-driven automation and tools will drive large-scale migration.
AI-driven automation has gained a rapid foothold in the last two years. The pandemic further accelerated its adoption in automation as it is a natural fit. This AI-driven automation can help analyze and simplify repetitive code for deploying infrastructure.
AI is already being used in natural language processing to decipher and ‘learn’ human intent. Developers can use these kinds of models to go beyond containerization and automate the creation of microservices. Currently, AI training is an intensive process that requires intensive resources. With rapidly increasing hardware efficiency and reducing cost, the time taken to train AI models will reduce by a significant order of magnitude.
As migrations continue to grow, the natural tendency to automate will grow as well. Hence tools, both open-source, and proprietary will increase in 2021. These tools will also help developers shorten the learning curve to develop and deploy applications for the hybrid cloud.
Interoperability between providers will pick up slowly, paving the way for startups to innovate
Today’s big cloud providers tend to keep you within their ecosystem of services, and rightfully so. They’ve spent fortunes on creating the infrastructure and will look to make returns on their investment. However, as many enterprises take the hybrid cloud approach, there is a growing call for bridging applications between multi-vendor platforms. Many find that specific applications with different providers are better than being locked in with one provider.
While this is contrary to their business models that look to upsell services from within their portfolio, bridging methods would help develop standards for sharing access and data across platforms. Until the big platform providers release their applications, expect to see startups come with their services to achieve the same.
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