Hybrid Cloud Storage

Hybrid cloud storage is any data storage environment that combines at least one public cloud solution with at least one on-premises or private cloud solution. For example, an enterprise with hybrid cloud storage can access data from Microsoft Azure Blob Storage, a public cloud provider, and its own on-premises servers. The broad goal of hybrid cloud storage is to shift any application or data between the Azure (third-party) cloud and the enterprise servers if the need arises. Hybrid cloud storage aims to provide the best of both worlds, so businesses can choose which cloud will be most effective and save the most money at a particular moment.

A couple examples include: 

  • Some applications or workloads contain very sensitive company data. Because private clouds, generally speaking, are more secure, enterprises may want to keep those running closer and choose to run them only on a company-managed server rather than sending them to the public cloud.
  • Some enterprise data isn’t accessed frequently. It has to be stored for compliance or other general purposes, but there is so much of it that it’s very expensive to store on-premises. A business would want some type of cold or archive public cloud to store such data, like Amazon Glacier.

Where businesses store data dictates the cost and effectiveness of that storage. 

Benefits of hybrid cloud storage

Hybrid cloud storage combines advantages of both public clouds and private clouds:

  • Public clouds are generally more cost-effective than entirely local hardware. They’re managed by the cloud provider, taking the maintenance burden off businesses. 
  • Private clouds leave more customization up to the enterprise and are a more secure data storage solution. Businesses can more easily configure private clouds.

Hybrid cloud storage solutions offer:

  • The flexibility of storing data on premises and in a variety of cloud environments (multiple public clouds, for example)
  • Subsequent reduction of vendor lock-in because businesses aren’t trapped by one singular cloud provider and their hardware and restrictions
  • Customizability, giving more power to businesses to decide where they want to store their data and how they want to manage their clouds
  • Choice of the best environment to store data, allowing businesses to save money

For more about cloud requirements, read: Top 5 things to know about hybrid cloud

Disadvantages of hybrid cloud storage 

Hybrid cloud storage solutions combine advantages of both types of cloud storage, which makes them great options for many enterprises. However, hybrid cloud environments do have a few disadvantages, particularly for smaller businesses or ones that haven’t migrated to any cloud yet. These include: 

  • Security concerns. It can be difficult to garner widespread, adequate security for multiple cloud environments.
  • Difficulty understanding hybrid cloud when planning it as well as deploying it. When data is stored in multiple places, and applications need to run in different environments, it’s complex to keep track of all your storage technology.
  • Implementation. Though certainly not impossible, it’s challenging to deploy a hybrid cloud solution, and it can be tricky to manage multiple requirements for workloads, especially when those requirements are compliance- or security-based.

Market growth of hybrid cloud storage

Mordor Intelligence expects the global hybrid cloud market to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.06%. The market analytics firm sees hybrid cloud as growing more rapidly than other cloud services due to the advantages it poses to enterprises. One trend Mordor also noticed was the prominence of hybrid cloud deployments in retail enterprises: 93% of retail companies claimed that hybrid cloud was the best computing option.  

A few steps to take before deploying a hybrid cloud storage solution 

If your enterprise is considering moving data storage into a hybrid cloud deployment, consider the following as you plan—these are only a few basic, high-level steps before migrating to hybrid cloud:

  • Begin by listing every application and storage source your company has. Also, record all the requirements for those applications and data—including recovery requirements, compliance requirements, and anything else you’ll need for that data.
  • Know which applications and data needs to be stored on- premises. These applications and data might have stricter compliance requirements, which a public cloud won’t meet, or just need to be closer to the storage source for optimal speed. 
  • Meet with your IT and security teams and decide exactly what cybersecurity measures they want to implement for each dataset and application. That will impact which cloud environment the data goes to. 
  • For any public cloud provider, know what you want from that provider, what fees they require (like egress fees), and if they have proprietary lock-in. 
  • Keep data transfer costs in mind. In a hybrid cloud storage model, transferring data between providers can be expensive, as cloud providers often charge when data is shifted.
  • Be aware of the best environment for your data. For infrequently stored data, a cold or archive storage tier will be the cheapest option; for data that needs to power critical workloads, hot storage will provide the best access speeds. Don’t just lift and shift your data; take time to place it in the best cloud environment for its needs.

Read more about managing data in Hybrid Cloud Isn’t Enough: You Need a Compatible Data Strategy

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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