I have to admit, when I heard about the hybrid cloud I was a little confused about the whole idea. I understand the objective is to move most of your data as you can to the cloud. Then you will be liberating IT from their everyday infrastructure worries and freeing them to solve more ‘normal’ business problems, not technical details. Everyone benefits considerably when IT is left to focus on the governance, any process automation and new productivity enhancements.
Why Go With A Hybrid Cloud?
A lot of today’s organizations are not completely ready to relocate all their data to the cloud. Cloud computing and applications will soon provide the processes used by nearly 80% of people, but it is that last 20% of the mission that is critical to many power users. There remains one very important question left when discussing the retirement of traditional CMS: migrations. The desire from business to move a little bit of their features to cloud hosting is almost becoming deafening.
The reality is, as Microsoft is now discovering is that most companies are not quite ready to bet everything they have on the cloud. They still want certain features that have content in the cloud provides while still maintaining the desired comfort and control of having their data on-premises. The concept of a Hybrid Cloud is gaining more traction among IT professionals who still desire the benefits of the cloud without having to give up all their data controlled locally. Hybrid systems are able to provide the best of both worlds, so when they are properly accomplished, the hybrid approach will allow organizations to slowly move to the cloud at their own speed without the all or nothing approach.
What is a Hybrid Cloud?
Hybrid cloud systems, or just the hybrid cloud, are systems that will allow for content and processes to reside both in the cloud and on premises. Some content may or may not stay in the cloud, depending on each company’s architecture and preferences. The key attribute is the synchronization of the content and processes between the two systems with full control of your information while still remaining with the on-premises system.
A lot of companies have some content that they need on premises or do not mind if it is in the cloud. Generally this contents amounts to about 20% of their overall content, this involves information that might be shared with some external parties or with remote workers who have to have a fast way to access content without a VPN.
On the flip side of the coin, some organizations may have no desire to let that 20% of content ever leave their home data systems. This content may include proprietary research, financial information or employee records. This is not a huge security concern, but just more of a governance concern. With proper controls in place on the content to insure it is all handled as required by the regulations and laws, there should be no problem.
So the remaining 60% is typically a mixed bag of content, depending each organization. A certain level of control is desired, but needing it stored in the hybrid cloud or on-premises are at certain times a matter of preference instead of a necessity. More conservative organizations will tend to drift towards keeping their content on-premises while some younger or forward leaning organizations are somewhat eager to start taking advantage of the cloud.
In consulting, working together on proposals with the partners is a typical way of life. The different companies have found a way to work together and get all the necessary work done. Often times, emails is used to convey information back and forth between partners. Occasionally, a company may open their firewall to allow everyone involved to work together using their internal systems. The volume of VPN software and connections needed has driven more than one IT support department crazy.
Hybrid Cloud Concept
A hybrid cloud would work very well with this concept. The proposal lead would be able to make an internal proposal site. They could then share the request for proposal (RFP), proposal content and meeting notes in the cloud. The formal review processes would then be defined to protect all the pertinent internal and external partners to approve the final proposal. Once the final proposal is offered, all the content would then be brought back into the on-premises site and placed back under the proper governance. Then if the proposal wins, the RFP and proposal would then be synched back to the cloud.
This hybrid cloud approach can then be taken one step further by storing at least some of the content separately on-premises. The applications would then serve as the Software as Service (SaaS) component while the content itself would stay at the home site. This could be of huge benefit to any regulated industries or for regions that cannot have their data stored outside a given data center or geography.
Proposals are but one example of how to use the hybrid cloud. Contracts, employee onboarding, and event planning are just some examples of where you can use a hybrid cloud. All these areas have external participants, have data that needs proper governance and are currently spending too much time emailing and waiting for responses.
If the cloud could only offer more features around Records Management and Process Automation, then it would be hard to justify keeping all your data on-premises.
Over time, the abilities of the cloud will increase as they grow and evolve and new vendors establish a base in the clouds. Until then, the hybrid cloud is not just an option to consider, it is a reality.
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