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What Is Hybrid Cloud and How Are Companies Using It?

Although many people are familiar with the term hybrid cloud, some see it as a potential threat to the current data center and IT staff, while others don’t understand what it actually means. In truth, hybrid cloud can allow IT to extend the physical data center to be more flexible and agile by enhancing, not replacing, existing resources—from applications and procedures to equipment and personnel. Hybrid cloud allows for the extension of traditional IT beyond the four walls of the on-premises data center (DC) and into a fully automated, pay-for-what-you-use cloud environment.

By Mathew Lodge

This article will define hybrid cloud in terms that address the concerns of IT looking to establish successful, cost-effective disaster-recovery (DR) systems

Related: Welcome to the Hybrid Age

. In particular, we will look at how one customer is successfully using hybrid cloud to establish a cloud-based DR system that grows with its business at a fraction of the cost and complexity of traditional DR.

NIST defines hybrid cloud as “a composition of two or more distinct cloud infrastructures (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities, but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability (e.g., cloud bursting for load balancing between clouds).” The main point here is that hybrid cloud requires commonality—otherwise you just have multiple clouds, not hybrid cloud.

Related: Public, Private, Hybrid: Choosing the Right Cloud Approach for Your Business

Hybrid cloud allows for the extension of traditional IT beyond the four walls of the on-premises data center, allowing IT to retain their existing applications, governance and control, productivity, and staff, while also offering flexibility and greater reliability.

In the 2012 Gartner special report Hybrid IT: How Internal and External Cloud Services are Transforming IT, analysts explained that hybrid IT relies on new technologies to connect clouds, sophisticated approaches to data classification and identity, and service-oriented architecture, and it heralds significant change for IT practitioners.

Related: How a Hybrid Cloud Strategy Can Boost Security

“Many organizations have now passed the definitional stage of cloud computing and are testing cloud architectures inside and outside the enterprise, and over time, the cloud will simply become one of the ways that we ‘do’ computing, and workloads will move around in hybrid internal/external IT environments,” said Chris Howard, managing vice president at Gartner. “As a result, the traditional role of the enterprise IT professional is changing and becoming multifaceted. A hybrid IT model requires internal and external IT professionals to support the business capabilities of the enterprise.”