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Hybrid cloud storage is an approach to managing cloud storage that uses both local and off-site resources. The hybrid cloud storage infrastructure is often used to supplement internal data storage with public cloud storage. Policy engines keep frequently used data on-site while simultaneously moving inactive data to the cloud in a transparent manner.
Ideally, a hybrid cloud implementation behaves as if it is homogeneous storage. Hybrid cloud storage is most often implemented by using proprietary commercial storage software, by using a cloud storage appliance that serves as a gateway between on-premises and public cloud storage or by using an application program interface (API) to access the cloud storage.
Hybrid cloud storage is a common way that organizations facilitate data backup processes and disaster recovery (DR) planning. Since replicating data stored in conventional on-premises data centers to a secondary data center can be tedious and expensive, adding backup data to the cloud can be a more logical solution. Additionally, cloud backup services can provide organizations with higher levels of reliability, quicker recovery times and lower costs.
Another popular use of hybrid cloud storage is to separate archives or infrequently accessed data with regularly accessed data. Keeping dormant data in primary data storage can slow down data retrieval processes, complicate data backup practices and minimize storage capacities. Therefore, a hybrid cloud storage approach can utilize multiple storage components with varying needs or requirements to best disperse data.
Benefits and drawbacks of hybrid cloud storage
With hybrid cloud storage, businesses can move workloads between on-premises or private clouds and use the public cloud to host the data and applications that they are comfortable with being publicly available. Hybrid clouds help companies get the most out of containers, which simplify moving workloads among clouds. Containers also offer clustering and orchestration. Cloud management platforms help administrators streamline cloud storage management behind a single pane of glass.
Hybrid clouds also offer organizations the opportunity to recoup some hardware costs. If a company already has the infrastructure for private cloud storage but it needs more capacity, bursting to the public cloud can help that business keep the cloud it has already built relevant.
George Crump, president of analyst firm Storage Switzerland, discusses hybrid cloud integration issues.
But organizations that do not have regulatory compliance issues to contend with do not need private clouds. Private cloud storage offers more control, but it comes with a price. Companies must buy hardware and software to run the private cloud part. This affects the bottom line of deploying hybrid cloud storage, although some organizations will use a private cloud to host IT services and offset the cost by charging departments or internal teams. But as public cloud storage continues to get cheaper, it is more often the more cost-effective option.
Hybrid vs. public and private cloud storage
The decision to use a public, private or hybrid cloud storage option depends on what an organization needs from its cloud. Businesses with a great deal of mission-critical, proprietary data might want to store that information on premises or in a private cloud to keep it out of the hands of competitors. That is not to say that those particular businesses cannot also use a public cloud. If a private cloud cannot meet their needs, a hybrid approach might work well.
Organizations that do not need to keep their data tightly secured or regulated can use the public cloud, which might be their most cost-effective option.
Hybrid cloud storage examples
Some of the most popular hybrid cloud storage providers are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco, Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Microsoft, Rackspace and VMware. A few examples of hybrid cloud storage products include:
- Dell EMC’s CloudArray- This product works as a cloud storage gateway that runs on-premises and in the cloud to provide data capacity, protection and management features.
- AWS Storage Gateway- This product connects on-premises applications and systems to cloud storage in order to provide centralized data managements and seamless integrations.
- IBM Spectrum- This product line includes the Accelerate, Control, Archive, Scale, Virtualize and Protect offerings that help organizations build a hybrid cloud infrastructure that meets individual business needs. Features include multicloud connectivity, unified threat management (UTM) and policy-driven data tiering.