Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid cloud is an architecture that manages storage, networking, and compute resources across different environments. This structure may include on-premises data centers, on-premises or third-party hosted private cloud resources, and public cloud services.

Hybrid cloud architectures let companies optimize storage and workloads by using the environment most appropriate for particular business goals.

Hybrid cloud infrastructures let enterprises seamlessly distribute storage and workloads across on-premises data centers as well as private and public cloud services. This approach provides a flexible, scalable framework for companies in their journeys to cloud computing.

Hybrid Cloud vs Multi-Cloud

When enterprises began their cloud migrations, the differences between multi-cloud and hybrid cloud approaches were more distinct.

Organizations used a hybrid cloud infrastructure to extend their on-premises infrastructure to the cloud. Selecting a single public cloud provider simplified migration and development processes.

By contrast, multi-cloud infrastructures allow organizations to combine two or more cloud-based service providers. Enterprises migrating to the cloud used multi-cloud deployments to avoid vendor lock-in, while cloud-native startups were multi-cloud by default since they never had on-premises assets.

Today, cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS) business models have become so pervasive that every enterprise runs multi and hybrid cloud environments with boundaries dependent upon business context.

Hybrid cloud infrastructure

Hybrid cloud infrastructure combines on-premises resources with private and public cloud environments. However, this means much more than having on-premises and cloud data silos. A hybrid cloud model seamlessly balances resources across these different environments to create a unified infrastructure.

Orchestration solutions, such as VMware, provide load balancing functionality that lets virtual machines or Kubernetes microservices run in whichever environment offers the right mix of cost savings, performance, data security, and other metrics.

Public cloud

Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and similar infrastructure-as-a-service providers let their customers run storage, networks, and computing in the cloud. Small and large businesses alike use public clouds to create sophisticated, globe-spanning computing environments with on-demand scalability.

These services offer superior performance and pricing since they securely host multiple customers on the same underlying infrastructure. This business model creates an essentially unlimited pool of storage and compute, yet public cloud customers only pay for the resources they consume.

Public cloud services develop more advanced cloud computing capabilities than most enterprises could afford on their own. Service level agreements ensure even small startups receive best-in-class services.

However, the public cloud’s fee-for-service structure creates one of its most significant drawbacks. Service fees increase the more data companies store and the more applications they run. In avoiding the up-front capital expenses of a data center, they make a long-term commitment to rising operating expenses.

Private cloud

Private clouds, whether running on-premises or hosted by a third party, let companies balance capital and operating expenses. They must pay for the initial capacity and any future expansions. However, operational expenses are lower and much more predictable.

The tradeoff for financial stability is reduced scalability. An on-premises private cloud has a fixed capacity. Third-party private cloud platforms can add and remove dedicated servers but are less responsive than a public cloud service. Given the other benefits of a private cloud, this tradeoff may be worthwhile.

Risk management is another reason for investing in a private cloud. Public cloud services operate with a shared responsibility model that limits how much control their customers have over the service’s infrastructure and security systems. Enterprises in strictly regulated industries or that have highly sensitive data may prefer the balance of control and scalability private clouds offer.


On-premises data centers cannot compete with cloud services in accessibility, scalability, or flexibility. The largest enterprises would struggle to justify the expense of entirely on-premises infrastructure. Despite the cloud’s benefits, many companies find compelling reasons for their on-premises systems:

  • IT departments have direct control over assets owned by the company and running on company property, which may matter in highly regulated industries.
  • Localized IT infrastructure can deliver better latency and other metrics for high-performance applications.
  • Transactional mainframes and other mission-critical legacy systems continue to provide optimized data processing.

However, on-premises use cases are fading as digital transformation reshapes business computing. For example, reliable disaster recovery plans are not possible with on-premises infrastructure. Cloud storage offers more efficient and cost-effective methods for business resilience.

Hybrid cloud examples

Since every organization has a unique hybrid cloud strategy, developing this infrastructure depends on finding the right choice among many public cloud providers, including:

Microsoft Azure Arc is a tool for integrating the Azure public cloud environment with a company’s on-premises infrastructure while maintaining consistent operations and security models.

Google Anthos is a platform for orchestrating containers with Kubernetes at scale under strong security and governance controls.

IBM Cloud offers enterprises the flexibility to create the optimal balance of public, private, and on-premises by designing hybrid cloud solutions that combine IBM’s public cloud services as well as private clouds running on bare metal servers.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has the global ecosystem to create hybrid cloud infrastructures that seamlessly blend cloud, on-premises, and edge computing.

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is a natural hybrid cloud foundation for enterprises running the company’s enterprise resource planning and supply chain management applications.

Benefits of a hybrid cloud

The historical reasons for adopting this architecture are still valid. Hybrid cloud provides a framework for companies migrating to the cloud from a purely on-premises architecture. Rather than moving everything simultaneously, IT departments can start with relatively simple migrations while developing their hybrid cloud management skills and resources. Other benefits of hybrid cloud include:

Data integration

Hybrid cloud’s seamless integration of on-premises assets with public and private cloud resources can create a unified view of enterprise data free of organizational or regional silos.

This integration of multiple sources, combined with cloud scalability, is crucial for big data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence projects.

Balancing performance on-premises vs. cloud

Hybrid cloud platforms let companies better allocate storage and compute based on various business criteria. On-premises data centers may be the best place to run high-performance applications or to manage strictly-regulated data. Private clouds strike a balance between cost and security control for baseline workloads and storage. Public clouds offer the elasticity and scalability for less predictable workloads — big data analytics in particular.

These decisions are not locked in stone. Hybrid cloud platforms offer the APIs and automation capabilities that let developers create microservices that seamlessly move from one environment to another to optimize performance.

Cost management

Similarly, a hybrid cloud architecture lets data managers optimize their company’s storage and compute costs. On-premises data centers are expensive to build and expand, so hybrid cloud strategies will limit their use to scenarios where performance, security, and other factors are higher priorities. The scalability and control of private clouds come with price premiums but are less expensive and more flexible than on-premises infrastructure. Public cloud services offer the most affordable options to store and process data at scale.

Governance, security, and resilience

Hybrid clouds provide more flexibility for implementing data governance policies. A consistent, unified view of data sources facilitates consistency in how sources structure and format data.

Not all data needs the same protection. Public cloud security is sufficient to protect much enterprise data, while private cloud or on-premises systems offer the controls needed to secure more sensitive information.

In another scenario, data managers can store data regionally to comply with data sovereignty and privacy regulations. A company entering EU markets may prefer using a public cloud service’s European sites for GDPR compliance rather than building on-premises storage infrastructure in Europe.

Finally, hybrid cloud architectures provide the redundancy and resilience needed to maintain business continuity after a disruptive event. Mirroring on-premises data in the cloud can keep data accessible after a local disruption, while cloud-based backups and archives shorten recovery times.

Hybrid and multi-cloud analytics made better with Starburst

Starburst’s modern data lake analytics platform provides the unified view of data that makes hybrid cloud (and multi-cloud) architectures so useful. Rather than striving to provide a single source of truth by creating another data repository, Starburst virtualizes enterprise data stores no matter where they are. Through a single point of access, users can query data stored in any environment, whether on-premises or in the cloud.

This virtualized storage infrastructure makes cloud migrations more transparent to business users. Data customers and data products use Starburst’s interfaces to access data stored in disparate locations without having to understand each source’s intricacies. When data stewards migrate a data store from an on-premises data center to a public cloud service, end users don’t have to change their workflows.

Enterprise customers using hybrid cloud architectures to improve international regulatory compliance can use Starburst Stargate to preserve cross-border data access. Companies comply with data sovereignty and privacy regulations by running regional Starburst clusters. Stargate is a gateway for simultaneously linking the clusters’ catalogs and data sources while enforcing data governance policies.

Starburst’s virtualized access layer optimizes hybrid cloud architectures while democratizing data access to empower data-driven business cultures.

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