Cloud computing has a lot of hype around it. Most large organizations have some sort of plan to move to the cloud. These plans are in various stages for initiation to completion. But for startups and SMBs, this is not true. The difference is with the risk appetite of organizations. For a large organization, the sheer size of the company allows them to take a risk. They can afford to fail. Smaller organizations tend to be circumspect when it comes to decisions that have an organization level impact. With cloud computing, despite all its benefits (read our blog on the benefits of cloud computing), there are some obvious issues as well. Hence SMBs and Startups are looking at different alternatives, such as the hybrid cloud.
Concerns about Cloud Computing
Startups and SMBs are scared of data security in the cloud. Though large cloud service providers like Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, etc, have very good security protocols in place, the simple thought of the locus of control of data moving away, spokes a lot of startups and SMBs. Everyone is paranoid about losing data. We all have lost precious digital data some time or the other. This manifests itself in our psychology, which is tuned to doubt data security which is beyond our control. If not scared about security themselves, they are forced into being scared due to the compliances relating to data. For example, HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, sets the standard for protecting sensitive patient data.
Cloud computing concerns also revolve around data available on-demand, access speed, etc. These are legitimate questions for many organizations that have large-sized data. The concern is that what companies save by not having to buy hardware is lost due to the huge bandwidth required to access this data. In addition, Internet speeds are still a long way from being 100% reliable and N/W outages are still possible.
What is Hybrid Cloud?
The concerns mentioned above have moved people to a new model called “hybrid cloud.” The most precise description of hybrid cloud is the one from TechTarget: “Hybrid cloud is a cloud computing environment which uses a mix of on-premises, private cloud and third-party, public cloud services with orchestration between the two platforms. By allowing workloads to move between private and public clouds as computing needs and costs change, hybrid cloud gives businesses greater flexibility and more data deployment options.” The hybrid cloud is essentially a combination of a public cloud and some on-premise hardware. Such a configuration will allow for some data to be stored on-premise and some data to be put on the cloud. This also gives flexibility to the SMBs and Startups to choose how to best utilize the cloud. Many SMBs and Startups have compartmentalized their data such that data which is high risk is stored locally. This same thing is being done for data that is in need to be accessed frequently. For data that has to be accessed frequently, storing it on-premise allows fast and reliable access to the data.
Let’s look at an example of a Startup that went for a Hybrid cloud recently. This startup was quoted as an example by the wall street journal in its recent article. This startup is a heavy user of large files, which includes digital media. Now it was difficult for this startup to coordinate its business with its offices in the USA and Hongkong because of the size of files. One of the senior people from the startup commented: “opening a file would take half an hour.” Now the company couldn’t afford to put in place a high-speed gigabit network at its offices, to download and upload data from the cloud service provider’s data storage location.
On researching the problem this particular company found that the only solution was to locate some of the files which are to be accessed fast at an on-premise location. Additionally, they kept the cloud for keeping large files that didn’t require to be accessed frequently and fast. In order to make this complex architecture simple for their internal users, they built an advanced common interface for data access. Thus for the user, whether he was accessing data from the cloud or from the on-premise location, the interface was the same and actions seemed seamless.
This model is fast getting traction all over the world. Many companies will probably still embrace the cloud in its purest public form, but for other hybrid model is dissolving the borders between public and private data and streamlining business operations.