Public And Private Hybrid Clouds: The Pros And Cons

Taking It In Stages

Part of managing a move to the cloud may involve a series of stages to acclimate your staff to its way of life. This is what San Francisco-based Presidio Health did. "Presidio had to handle a 16 times increase in data volume in a year and replace some aging hardware," says its CTO Thomas Gregory. "We didn't want a lot of capital expense, and we wanted an environment that was safe and could spread our risk around." The healthcare software provider used a multi-stage approach in implementing cloud computing, by first keeping their data inside their data center but migrating their apps to the cloud. "We were able to increase our computing power by 70% without increasing our IT budget."

The next step was to move their data over to the cloud. "Having the first step of a hybrid cloud was more complex, but it gave us some experience with handling the cloud apps and understanding the security implications. It was a lot easier to leave our backend servers in our cabinets while we migrated the front end. And anyway, most of the cloud environment deals with the front-end interfaces so that gave us time to work on those."

What made this two-phase approach successful was that Gregory planned both phases in advance. "You need to take the time to analyze what you have and find a solution that will allow you to scale what you have and make the necessary adjustments along the way."

Three Steps to Take

Given this experience, what are the steps to take to make the move into the hybrid cloud?

First, make sure you bake in the right expectations and plan ahead. "It all starts with design," says Bryan Doerr, the CTO of Town and Country, Missouri-based Savvis. "Make sure you understand the performance and security characteristics of the cloud, so that you can achieve the levels you expect. Also, understand what kinds of support are possible in the cloud. If your own staff is not monitoring performance, you may need your service provider to do that."

Second, consider your bandwidth and latency requirements carefully. "Make sure your existing network is ready for the migration to the cloud and is fast enough internally and with a fast Internet connection. You need to have a sufficient network pipe to support your users so they don't perceive any performance degradation," says Dave Cutler.

Finally, realize that just because your apps are in the cloud doesn't mean that you can ignore what is in your office completely. "There is still a lot of local work that needs to be done when evaluating any cloud-based solution, says Tim Crawford, the CIO at All Covered, an IT services company to the SMB market that is based in Redwood City, Calif. "Desktops and networks need configuration, security has to be set up properly, hardware and firewalls need managing. Even if you move all your servers off site, there is still a lot to touch on-site."

David Strom
Strom is the former editor-in-chief at Tom's Hardware and the founding editor-in-chief of Network Computing magazine. He has written thousands of articles for dozens of technical publications and websites, and written two books on computer networking.
  • king smp
    Good info.
    Whether you like it or not cloud computing IS the future.
    Ten years from now the traditional desktop/laptop is gone.
    The future for home users will be web appliances tapped into the cloud and us paying not only for internet but for processing usage.
    This was predicted back in the 1960's...
  • iamtheking123
    I guess I need a tshirt that says my email was in the cloud before the cloud existed. Just another buzzword for CIO's to throw around to sound intelligent.
  • Box293
    The Cloud word has existed for a long time now. Look at old versions of Visio (before Microsoft purchased it) and they used a cloud to represent the Internet. Even our ISP has been using this term for 10 years now with their Private IP Cloud network.
  • It is so surprised why Colt is not been considered as Cloud provider as it has started offering various cloud functionality.
  • William Smith
    A hybrid cloud is a combination of both public and private clouds. A hybrid cloud is a combination of public and private clouds bound together by either standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability. It could be a combination of a private cloud inside an organization with one or more public cloud providers or a private cloud hosted on third-party premises with one or more public cloud providers. Hybrid clouds offer the cost and scale benefits of public clouds while also offering the security and control benefits of private clouds.