What is a hybrid cloud?

Computing environments that combine both private, on-premise & third party, public cloud platforms are known as hybrid clouds.

Hybrid clouds most commonly use Infrastructure as a Service hosting platforms.

What are the advantages of hybrid cloud?

On a like for like basis, due to economies of scale, it’s almost impossible for a private cloud to compete with cost savings realised by using public cloud services.

Some advantages of hybrid cloud infrastructures include:

  • Reduced physical infrastructure: less physical space required on-premise
  • Increased availability/reliability: N+N clustered & distributed architectures used in public clouds
  • Instant compute & storage capacity: server capacity waiting to be used
  • On-going cost savings: less time & expenditure spent running hardware (e.g. electricity, maintenance, repair, cooling, personnel, etc.)
  • Reduced capital expense: reduced hardware & initial setup costs

What are the disadvantages of hybrid cloud?

The main disadvantages of running a hybrid cloud infrastructure are that your infrastructure will be split between more than one location & you have less control over the security of data held on the public cloud.

This can mean increased complexity in terms of infrastructure design & development.

In addition, you’re reliant on having reliable network connectivity to your cloud provider in order to access any data or services held on the public cloud.

What are some use cases for hybrid cloud computing?

Some use cases include:

Let’s take a look at each of these in turn.

On-Demand Capacity Expansion

Hybrid cloud infrastructure can give businesses greater flexibility to deal with fluctuating demands placed on their application services, such as email, web, database, custom applications, etc.

When demand increases additional capacity is instantly available within the public cloud infrastructure to supplement current private cloud or other on-premise infrastructure.

Applications that are known to be potentially volatile in the nature of their resource requirements are ideally suited to the cloud, as resources can be made instantly available when required (e.g. additional RAM, CPU & storage) from both a horizontal & vertical perspective.

This often includes additional compute & storage being made available at peak times as & when needed, or in the form of a permanent overflow facility.

Permanent/temporary infrastructure offload

Another popular use for hybrid cloud infrastructure is to permanently move infrastructure services away from the onsite infrastructure.

This often includes infrastructure such as email, web & database applications related to e-commerce activities, or general internet-connected business infrastructure, whilst leaving some infrastructure like file servers on-premise (private cloud).

Hybrid cloud is also useful for providing remote backup storage for private cloud & remote worker data.

The use of hybrid cloud infrastructure has also proved popular for separating dev/test environments from live/production.

Incremental Cloud Migration

Many hybrid clouds are formed as part of an ongoing migration of private cloud infrastructure to the public cloud.

As such during the migration process, a hybrid cloud is formed, whereby some parts of the infrastructure are located on-premise, whilst others are on a public cloud.

This allows for gradual migration & enables businesses to evaluate the advantages/disadvantages of moving specific applications to a public cloud.

Short Term Projects

Some projects only need server & storage resources for short periods of time. Due to this, it’s often not worth the capital investment & time required to set up a new hardware-based solution on-premise.

For these projects, companies often choose to utilise cloud services.

Security & Workload Separation

Having very sensitive data held on a private cloud, yet utilising a public cloud for less sensitive data is also an option.

For example, some industries are legally obliged to retain client data on-premise, while other business functions such as the company website can be located on the cloud.

In addition, offloading work to the public cloud can allow more resources to be applied to critical data processing on the company private cloud, such as deep data analysis.

Backups & Site Failover

A very popular use of public cloud services is for making offsite backups of business data.

Using the public cloud for this ensures that valuable company data is available in a remote location in the event of a local disaster (e.g. failed server, theft, flood, fire, etc.).

In relation to this, many companies are using hybrid cloud infrastructure to provide a remote disaster recovery platform for on-premise services.

This can be as simple as replicating entire server disks, for example using open source software such as DRBD, continually synchronising on-premise server data writes to a virtual cloud server or cloud disk.

In the event of the on-premise server becoming unavailable, the cloud clone can simply be brought online to provide the service or used for data recovery purposes.


Hybrid clouds originate either by design or by necessity.

Either way, the integration of both private & public cloud services provides businesses with greater flexibility & reliability for IT infrastructure needs.