There’s been a huge push towards the cloud over the past few years, In fact, according to recent data, 83% of enterprise workloads are expected to be in the cloud by 2020. But more recently, many organizations are seeing the benefits of maintaining an on-premises architecture — or a balance of the two — as well.

We’ve asked the experts to weigh in on the growth of cloud adoption, considerations involved with adopting a hybrid cloud architecture and why many organizations are starting to choose a hybrid solution.

Rise of the Cloud

“Enterprises are feeling greater pressure than ever before to adopt cloud technologies that improve time-to-market, shift from capital expenditure (CapEx) to operating expenditure (OpEx), and take advantage of the newest technologies,” stated Alex Lam, vice president & head of the North America strategy office at Fujitsu. Lam also warned that the ease of adopting public clouds these days has led many companies to lack visibility into and control over their infrastructure. Organizations recognize the benefits of cloud technologies, but they don’t always have an understanding of the nuances involved with building and maintaining an effective cloud architecture.

Cloud infrastructures also come in many different forms, with two often confused architectures being hybrid cloud and multi-cloud. “Hybrid is a blend of public and private clouds,” explained Adnan Raja, VP of marketing at Atlantic.Net, “while multi-cloud is simply a combination of clouds from multiple service providers.” 

The distinction is that multi-cloud often refers to leveraging numerous clouds solutions solely in public environments. Organizations often choose both of these cloud architectures to leverage the scalability of the public cloud, benefit from competition between vendors and have more flexibility. 

Related Article: Open Data Initiative, Meet Cloud Information Model: Do We Really Need Both?

Hybrid Cloud Architecture Considerations

While there are clear benefits to moving to the cloud, there are still some things organizations should consider before going all in. “The primary benefits of implementing hybrid cloud infrastructure are to seamlessly blend private, public and managed cloud with existing on-premises IT,” Lam said, which can improve business agility, accessibility and deliver better business outcomes. For many organizations, therefore, hybrid cloud can ease the transition to a fully cloud architecture in the future.

Tim James, Director, Global Services at TetraVX added, “enterprises have invested so heavily in their on-premises infrastructure that the reality is the marketed cost benefits of the cloud have gone out the window.” It’s unrealistic for IT teams to ditch their existing infrastructure unless its hardware is nearing the end of its life, so hybrid cloud enables organizations to gradually transition their computing needs as their on-premise infrastructure ages.

Learning Opportunities

While hybrid cloud can enable a seamless transition to the cloud, Lam believes this type of infrastructure poses new questions within IT teams about managing security. He explained, “The fundamental thing to remember is that it is about securing data and information — wherever it flows and is stored.” But hybrid cloud requires a balancing act between security or risk-averse decisions and support for the speed of change required to drive the business. “This is a continuous process and needs effective buy-in to deliver against the needs to manage the risk in an environment of increasing speed to change,”  said Lam.

Murad Mordukhay, CEO of Qencode, sees additional challenges with hybrid cloud architectures. “Hybrid cloud solutions often require the procurement of hardware, software and engineering talent way before any of the benefits of a hybrid infrastructure can be realized,” he explained. And as the breadth of the supported systems grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to monitor performance and potential points of failure. That means organizations will likely need to hire specialists to maintain both on-premises and cloud solutions at once and ensure they work well in parallel. 

Related Article: SaaS vs. Cloud: Comparing Apples and Oranges

Is Hybrid Cloud the Way Forward?

“Whether or not hybrid cloud is the best for you depends on the stage of your company, as well as the individual needs of your business,” suggested Mordukhay. He says early startups and smaller organizations benefit the most from having a pure public cloud architecture, which minimizes the costs and maintenance requirements. As companies grow, however, they often experiment with multi-cloud to better guarantee availability and limit their exposure to vendor lock-in. “When companies reach a certain critical mass,” Mordukhay added, “hybrid cloud solutions become more and more necessary to ensure performance and availability by removing single points of failure caused by dependency on a single cloud provider.” Hybrid cloud also becomes critical for organizations that operate in heavily regulated industries with strong data policies. 

The transformation for most organizations towards hybrid cloud, therefore, is often a multi-phased process as business needs evolve. In the end, therefore, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to IT infrastructure. But for many large organizations, hybrid cloud can be a great stepping stone when looking to move to the cloud. “