Hybrid cloud storage is a solution that combines both off-site and internal resources. In practice, it has come to mean not a single external storage, but rather a way for your existing and new applications to expand capabilities by leveraging the Cloud.  This can mean general applications such as Backup, Archive, Primary Storage and Email as well as industry-specific software packages. This approach allows organizations to combine and supplement internal storage with cloud-based storage solutions.  Here are some key elements where we have found this to be a good solution.

Disaster Recovery – The technologies used in Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity have changed dramatically over the last few years, enabling even small organizations to now be able to take advantage of features that were historically considered out of reach.  One of the most critical elements in the evolvement of DR/BC has been Hybrid Cloud storage as it presents a cost-effective way to store data offsite and resulting in high acceptance of cloud storage used by all vendors.

Scalability – The scaling of an on-premises data infrastructure is an expensive feat that must be repeated every three to five years. Accurate growth predictions are vital to justify the overhead and ensure the scaling will be cost effective. Hybrid cloud hosting lessens the burden of expense while eliminating the need for meticulously accurate growth predictions. Companies can scale up or down to meet demands in traffic and data storage as they deem necessary.

Fewer Boundaries – Organizations seek the large-scalability benefits of a company-specific strategy. Sensitive workloads can be moved to private servers while less-sensitive workloads such as applications, email, CRM, human resources, and accounting can be hosted on a public server. Hosting with hybrid cloud storage is flexible and can be altered to accommodate to a business’s needs and budget

Security – Some organizations may assume public cloud access means less security. An unfortunate reality of many small and mid-sized businesses, however, is that they don’t invest in the technology solutions that are necessary to protect their data.  Service providers employ dedicated, experienced security personnel, have the best tools for monitoring that quickly identify and allow quick response to any potential breaches that may occur.

They use the latest, layered defenses in both software and physical access to facilities.  They typically use biometrics in addition to card access and all areas of the facility are monitored by camera 24×7. Software security is layered at the firewall, load balancers, VPN and operating systems and many test access with probing utilities.  Finally, these centers are more likely to stay up to date on latest patches at all levels and are subject to periodic audits to ensure compliance

Performance – Public clouds have high scalability, but often lag in performance. Private clouds generally have high reliability, but limited scalability. Hybrid clouds possess the best of both worlds by providing high performance and flexible scalability.

Each vendor designs their Hybrid Cloud application using data management techniques that maximize and balance these characteristics. Examples of these in practice are data caching based upon policy, data sharding, cloud bursting and the ability to move workloads dynamically.  In particular, the science of data analytics has played a major role in learning the specific characteristics of data behavior in an environment and use the above tools to manage data in ways never before thought possible.

When combining the above design techniques with long-standing technologies, such as compression, data deduplication and WAN optimization tools, the overall performance experience for Hybrid Cloud can be very similar to onsite storage speeds with the added benefit of expanded size.

Reliability – For small or mid-sized companies without in-house IT support, reliability is one of the most important factors when purchasing or upgrading their storage system.  Reliable data delivery means ensuring that the data has reached its destination, transfers are completed successfully and proper acknowledgments are received.

Cloud servers convert local protocol instructions to Web-based APIs that use simplified input/output commands that perform, read, write and delete the data stored as objects. Data integrity is maintained by storing timestamped metadata. The time stamps allow data to be reconstructed in the correct order in the event of a failure. An Aberdeen Group study from 2013 found that downtime costs have reduced an average of 15.3% when cloud storage was implemented.

Cost – Unlike other storage solutions, hybrid cloud options take into consideration the pre-service cost and the actual service cost. Organizations with existing technology infrastructure are still able to use their equipment while extending storage capacity with the addition of the cloud.

We’re not referring to cost-savings only in financial terms. Implementing hybrid cloud solutions can free up time for your IT staff, which allows them to be more productive. Respondents in a Cisco and Net App 2013 case study reported a 166% return on investment, and IT capital and operational savings of $1.27 million over three years after implementing cloud resources. They also found that cloud resources saved reporting organizations money on hardware procurement, space, energy, and administration.

Ease of Maintenance – With the proper design and installation, hybrid storage solutions offer a sense of ease that you’ll be hard-pressed to find any other storage solution. When implementing hybrid cloud storage, there is no hardware to buy, manage or maintain. Depending upon your organization’s goals, implementing hybrid cloud storage can greatly reduce, if not eliminate, data center and storage administrator costs.

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