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When Clouds Collide: Understanding the Hybrid Cloud

Presented by Steven Rupp and Chris Schwab on August 28th, 2013 at 11am EST

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When Clouds Collide: Understanding the Hybrid Cloud

A lot of businesses are having the Cloud conversation right now. No matter your industry and no matter your size, you and the rest of the decision makers are trying to find the best way to make cloud computing work for your business.

The benefits are clear and the pilgrimage to the cloud is picking up new travelers every day.

We covered the 2013 Future of Cloud Computing survey in a recent blog. Basically what it identified after surveying a large amount of business users and IT decision makers (most of which were C-levels) was that the core component of every business strategy was the cloud.

It’s the easiest way to deploy an environment, get to market faster and eventually outpace the competition. What’s even more interesting is that most of the notable findings from GigOM Research’s survey about the Future of Cloud Computing is that hybrid cloud solutions will become the norm. 76% of respondents expect their cloud strategy to rest solely in the arms of the hybrid cloud model.

And as the Cloud computing market hits $150 billion this year and more and more businesses direct their focus on finding the perfect fit, we’re going to do our best to keep you informed of what choices you have out there.

Even though our business revolves around the cloud, we talk about the Cloud all the time because it’s what every business is talking about. It’s pretty clear that moving your IT infrastructure to the Cloud makes scaling the environment easier and that it can lower overhead costs, but it’s still quite a conversation to figure out which cloud works for your business.

In our first Fpwebinar this past June, we discussed Public and Private clouds. Both great options. And both can be clear solutions for a particular type of business. Please feel free to watch the video of Public vs. Private Cloud on our website or YouTube channel… but wait til we’re finished with this one...

So, while most businesses are talking about the cloud, a lot of the conversations stop short with this statement: “My business has data that we can’t put in the Cloud so it’s just not for us.” And while this may have seemed like an acceptable conclusion when the technology was young and the idea of the Cloud was still a bit murky, what more businesses are discovering now is that there’s another powerful and especially functional way to implement your infrastructure in the Cloud…The hybrid model. I like to call it the Mix and Match solution.

Traditionally, Hybrid cloud solutions refer to a combination of cloud services and an On Premises (or in-house) infrastructure, but you can also consider a hybrid solution a mixture of services in the cloud.

Basically, the power of any cloud service is to present an expertise for a specific niche or technology and be the best service provider for that thing. Whether it’s security or recovery, etc – for us at it’s SharePoint – but once you find what you’re looking for and find the best solution for each of your needs, you can bolt them together in your hybrid cloud and get the best of everything.

And that’s how the hybrid cloud model works. It leverages the cloud to gain the efficiencies that your business requires to stay ahead of the game and it does so in a way that makes sense for your business strategy. On a literal level, it’s simply the act of keeping some data in your own data center and pushing the rest to the cloud. Or having some of your data with one cloud provider and using a separate provider for the rest.

Let’s look at a few common use case scenarios and maybe you’ll recognize some situations that mirror what’s going on at your business. Maybe you’re entering into a new system or technology that you don’t have the experts for. Or maybe it’s something you’ve been handling for a while, but don’t want to manage it anymore. That’s where your hosting experts come in. Now you have outsourced your infrastructure to experts in that field who support the environment so you can focus on business. But then you throw the wild card in that points us in the direction of the hybrid cloud.

Maybe you aren’t completely comfortable hosting your environment in the cloud and placing all of your sensitive data in a server farm that lives across the world. That’s pretty normal. I’m not saying that your environment isn’t secure within the data center walls of a reputable hosting provider, but there are plenty of industries that demand particular steps taken when dealing with sensitive information like patient records or JFK conspiracy theories.

So in this case, a hybrid cloud solution may look like this:

You keep that sensitive data in your own data center, but for the same reason you need to hold on to that data, you also need to protect it. That means hosting an extranet that partners and vendors interact with so that they aren’t accessing the same network that houses your sensitive stuff. That extranet can be hosted by a trusted cloud service and the intranet is kept at home. You can federate them with a trust or ADFS and viola – you have a hybrid cloud solution.

Forgive me for using a SharePoint example for this next one, because it’s a situation we see all the time in our business. This is when you create a hybrid cloud solution by combining multiple cloud services. It’s typically used to harness the best of different vendors. Microsoft has their Cloud called Office 365 that makes collaboration within a business easier by utilizing the latest Microsoft technology to boost productivity through online services. Referencing our previous Fpwebinar, this type of cloud is shared or public, making it more generally affordable, but lacking a bit in the customizations.

So, if you need more development and customization capabilities, you need a private cloud deployment as well. When we get these requests we simply set it up so you can use all your apps from Office 365 but host your SharePoint through our private cloud. Then we federate the services so your Microsoft programs show up in your SharePoint environment.

Last scenario that we’ll throw out there for now:

Every business should be having the recovery discussion. If you don’t have a Business Continuity Plan – put one together. It helps ensure that your business can keep running despite hiccups like downtime or disasters like earthquakes or fire. One way to avoid those natural disasters altogether is to incorporate offsite recovery into your plan. Now your data will live in two places. And if you mix up the service providers, they won’t be reliant on the other to survive.

You can host your production environment with one provider and then have it failover to a separate hosting provider. Choose a backup plan that fits your recovery needs and you’re set.


Like we said earlier, the goal is to find solutions that fit your business needs, not the providers. One size does not fit all, so identify what you need and then start scouring the marketplace to find the best way to set it up. Plenty of providers will be eager to help you figure it out.

So we’re calling this Fpwebinar “When Clouds Collide” but it’s probably more accurate to call it “When Clouds Connect”. Piecing the parts together so data can flow easily from one cloud to another. The Hybrid Cloud is certainly a comfortable alternative to an all-in approach that most businesses assume is their only option. Whether you’re guarding information behind the safety of an intranet or building extranets that harness the power and performance of the Cloud, the future is bright for the hybrid cloud computing model.

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