Cloud Computing Choices: For some organizations, the best answer may be “All of the Above”

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Blending public and private cloud into a hybrid cloud solution is the best choice for many businesses.

How many blogs and articles have you read, asking which cloud is right for you—public cloud or private cloud? It may be neither, or it may be both. More companies are choosing hybrid cloud solutions to meet their cloud computing needs. In fact, industry analyst firm Gartner places hybrid cloud among the top ten strategic technology trends for 2014. Gartner predicts cloud computing will become the bulk of new IT spend by 2016 and that nearly half of large enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments by 2017.

Hybrid has received quite a bit of attention lately, and for good reason. A hybrid cloud computing model can integrate physical infrastructure and cloud resources, or allow you to blend public and private cloud together. Hybrid cloud solutions enable enterprises to make smart business decisions that make sense for their environment. Over 60% of Windstream’s cloud customers have made the hybrid decision, aligning their cloud strategies with the application and data tiering assessments that have been completed over the last two years.

Hybrid solutions provide a unified computing environment that delivers greater value and flexibility to the business and their clients. So, when is hybrid cloud a good fit? Every business is different. For example, a company might use public cloud for web, search engines, and application servers to interact with their customers, but use private cloud for their database servers.

Many hybrid solutions are driven by legacy applications or hardware that do not virtualize well. Some software packages do not allow companies to take advantage of the benefits of cloud, penalizing clients by licensing too many resources, such as processors, and making cloud environments cost-prohibitive. Hybrid solutions allow customers to keep the necessary, but restrictive, software on physical hardware, while leveraging cloud for more scalable capacity and on-demand bursting needs.

There many factors keep in mind when considering hybrid cloud, such as:

  • Security: All cloud models offer security measures to protect data and applications. However, in a hybrid cloud model, businesses have the choice of keeping extremely sensitive data requiring greater control in a dedicated, private cloud environment, while leveraging the public cloud for data and functions that can reside in a multitenant public cloud.
  • Compliance: With complex governance, regulation and compliance rules, many industries are under intense scrutiny to keep networks and data protected. For example, think HIPAA and HITECH for heath care patient privacy, Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) for publicly traded companies, GLBA oversight for the financial industry and PCI DSS for payment card processing and data security.  Mission-critical, compliant applications and data can securely reside on the private side of a hybrid cloud. Some auditors who do not yet understand or are not comfortable with cloud solutions automatically default to suggesting private cloud. Hybrid solves this concern.
  • Cost Savings:  Leveraging both public and private cloud in a hybrid cloud environment can reduce the potential costs of hardware, software and services. Private cloud is a finite infrastructure that must be managed closely, whereas the public cloud offers significant capacity for on-demand bursting. It’s important to remember, however, that keeping an excess amount of capacity could be cost-prohibitive for many companies in a private cloud environment. Hybrid options provide cost-effective alternatives.
  • Scalability and Elasticity: The ability to rapidly scale and expand applications and systems on-demand ensures high-speed performance and high availability. Think “big data” or “Black Friday.” As high-volume compute and data storage demands grow, so can an organization’s infrastructure.
  • Cloud Bursting: Applications operating in a private cloud environment can "burst" to a public cloud when the demand for capacity increases during peak traffic periods and seasonal spikes.  This ability provides the resources when needed, with incremental costs that are aligned to increased customer revenues.
  • High Availability, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: Many businesses are choosing to place their production environments in a private cloud, and using the public cloud as a failover platform—with constant replication of databases and active directory, while keeping other resources powered down in the public cloud to reduce cost.

At Windstream, we’re hybrid cloud experts – not because of the hype surrounding it, but because our customers required it. For businesses with regulatory compliance or other fiduciary requirements with a need for scalability, flexibility and cost savings—hybrid cloud may be the best answer.

If you’re thinking about moving your operations to the cloud, take a look at our free white paper, “Public, Private and Hybrid Cloud: A Cloud for Every Business Need” —you’ll learn more about all three cloud options, and find the one that’s right for your organization.

And if you’ve researched until your eyes are tired and red, contact a trusted Windstream advisor. We can help you weigh the pros and cons of each cloud computing option and make it a reality now. You just might find your best choice may be “all of the above”: a custom, Windstream-designed hybrid cloud solution.