The ABC of How to Master Hybrid Cloud Data Management

Apr 21, 2021
Digital Transformation | 8 min READ
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 supercharged the need for digital-first enterprises, cloud adoption has been rising steadily. The global cloud computing market is projected to more than double its size in five years - growing from $371.4 billion in 2020 to $832.1 billion in 2025.
While the public cloud remains the most popular model, another approach is steadily making headway - the hybrid cloud model. For a hybrid cloud approach to be effective, enterprises must conceptualize, implement and monitor a sound hybrid cloud data management strategy. Before delving into such a strategy's specifics, let's understand the concept and advantages of a hybrid cloud model.
Braj Panda
Braj Panda

Former Director

Global Digital Practice


What is Hybrid Cloud?
Hybrid Cloud Explained
A hybrid cloud combines public and private cloud services and allows IT to manage workloads by moving them across cloud solutions to optimize costs and efficiency. It brings the best of both worlds by tapping into the benefits of public and private cloud solutions while avoiding their downsides.
For instance, enterprises embrace the public cloud for its scalability, flexibility, and low costs. However, they still express concerns over security and privacy. They can't control the architecture of a public cloud, which prompts a more expensive, less flexible private cloud. Instead, enterprises could leverage both models by:
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  • Storing sensitive information on a private cloud or an on-premise data center
  • Use the highly scalable public cloud for less-sensitive data or applications
For hybrid cloud models to bear fruit, enterprises must expand their horizons and think beyond the typical public-private cloud model. They should envision an architecture that also manages on-premise data, colocation, hosting services and facilitates interoperability between different cloud environments. Being truly hybrid means:
  • Becoming location-agnostic by allowing administration of on-premise private data centers and public clouds
  • Becoming technology-agnostic by facilitating a seamless integration of multiple technologies (from existing systems on conventional architectures to modern, cloud-native apps)
  • Becoming operating-model-agnostic and facilitate interoperability by integrating public, private, or multi-cloud models smoothly
  • Federating data across systems and platforms within the cloud and allowing IT to control how the data is acquired, stored, processed, and used
  • Facilitating greater control and ownership over all enterprise data, systems, and platforms
Hybrid Cloud Explained
Hybrid Cloud Explained

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Trends in Hybrid Cloud
Hybrid Cloud Adoption
As distributed work environments increasingly become mainstream, hybrid is destined to become the go-to IT infrastructure model to thrive. Enterprises appreciate the vast benefits of such an approach in optimizing costs, performance, and security while simplifying regulatory compliance across geographies. Besides, in the age of hyper-connectivity with the rise of edge computing and IoT, there’s a growing need for enterprise infrastructure to be more elastic, agile, and modernize their apps on the cloud.
Hybrid Cloud Adoption Statistics
According to the 2021 State of the Cloud report by Flexera, 82% of the enterprises surveyed already had a hybrid cloud strategy. Another survey predicts that 80% of organizations will migrate to the cloud, hosting, or colocation services by 2025. These numbers are projected to grow as more enterprises increase their annual cloud spending - for 36%, this already exceeded $12 million.
Hybrid Cloud Data Management
A successful cloud adoption strategy must navigate significant challenges that revolve around mindset, technologies, cybersecurity, and changing business requirements. There's an additional challenge for a hybrid cloud adoption strategy - data management across multiple locations and environments.
Enterprise data is scattered across cloud and on-premise environments - gathered from various sources and stored in different formats. Accessing the correct data and using it to drive decision-making is a monumental challenge that enterprises face. As a result, they’re constantly seeking ways to optimize their data assets and set up a unified platform that provides centralized access to all organizational data, regardless of the source, format, or location.
With an increase in the adoption of hybrid cloud models, enterprises must transform their data management strategy and embrace hybrid cloud data management. This should be a part of an enterprise’s digital transformation roadmap. Before exploring the nitty-gritty of such an approach, let’s understand the concept.
Fundamentals of Hybrid Cloud Data Management
What Is Hybrid Data Management?
Hybrid data management empowers enterprises to extract value from the data acquired, regardless of the format in which data is collected, stored, or processed. It helps enterprises tap into the benefits of automation while simplifying governance.
For instance, automated data migration, deployment, and quality checks save time, effort and improve data quality. A hybrid data management platform would also integrate data analytics, security, and governance using a single interface that reduces data redundancy, improves data usability, and ensures regulatory compliance. While setting up a hybrid data management strategy, enterprises must watch out for three critical aspects - guaranteeing data protection, database management, and streamlining cloud data services.
How to Master Hybrid Cloud Data Management
Hybrid Cloud Data Protection
Relying on a single cloud can be risky as all applications could become unavailable during service outages at the cloud service provider’s end. Using multiple clouds mitigates such risks but increases the risk of data leaks, especially in transit when transferring data from a more secure private cloud to a less-secure public cloud. A hybrid cloud management strategy should account for protecting such data's quality, relevance, and integrity during inter-cloud transfers. The strategy must also embed measures for compliance with regulatory standards (GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA).
Hybrid Cloud Database
While the ideal data management strategy warrants a centralized repository for all data, it’s not commonly implemented in practice. App developers host data on platforms that include their database of choice. That’s why the cloud data management strategy must incorporate decentralized policies that let enterprises handle governance for multiple databases storing data in various structures across different cloud platforms. Adopting cloud-native databases takes care of the compliance-related issues as well as those relating to compatibility and interoperability.
Hybrid Cloud Data Services
Data gathered from different apps, platforms, and databases across multiple cloud environments can suffer from redundancy. Enterprises are infamous for maintaining multiple versions of data (marketing, sales, product, customer support) in different formats, leading to inconsistencies and duplicates. When dealing with hybrid cloud data services, it’s essential to set up processes that safeguard the quality, integrity, and relevance of all organizational data.
Key Challenges in Hybrid Cloud Data Management
The difficulty with a distributed environment is overseeing and controlling data movement in a safe, efficient, and cost-effective manner. This can be explained using four challenges:
  • Data migration: Moving data from a public or a private cloud to a hybrid cloud environment is tedious and requires significant investments in time, effort, and resources. The migration process includes integrating cloud environments from multiple service providers and facilitating compatibility across their elements like databases or native apps.
  • Costs: Interoperability across cloud environments can prove costly. For instance, public clouds charge a fee whenever data leaves their environments. Also, enterprises maintain multiple copies of data to increase data availability, which can be expensive and pose a risk of data redundancy.
  • Security: Moving data from private to public cloud environments (or vice versa) increases its vulnerability to cyber threats like data leaks. Additionally, as the number of access points grows with an increasingly distributed workforce, the number of entry points that hackers can exploit also rises.
  • Governance: When data is spread across environments, it’s hard to keep track of what’s stored where and the access policies for each location. For governance to happen, it’s crucial to maintain records of the origins of data sets, their storage locations, types of data used, access policies, details of owners and users, and so on. Additionally, enterprises might pay the price for data privacy or security violations from their cloud service providers.
Key Challenges in Hybrid Cloud Data Management
Key Challenges in Hybrid Cloud Data Management

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Strategies to Counter the Challenges
Mitigating the challenges mentioned above requires well-planned strategies addressing each issue:
  • Migration: The best place to start is understanding the data you need and how you’ll use it. This helps account for operational requirements, data provisioning (dynamic or self-provisioning), and capacity planning.
  • Costs: Adopting one-directional movements - from private to public cloud environments - is one way of reducing costs. Using backup tools designed for hybrid models can reduce storage needs and data redundancy while increasing data availability.
  • Security: Incorporating granular security measures (at row or column level) can help protect data integrity and accuracy. Authenticating all storage locations and incorporating security protocols like multi-factor authentication for each access point can reduce the risk of data leaks.
  • Governance: Using a unified platform that centralizes data access policies, maps data lineage, and implements measures to meet regulatory compliance requirements can make data governance a breeze. Additionally, it’s a good practice to run regular scans or checks for data quality, potential access risks, and compliance violations. Lastly, it’s crucial to choose a cloud service provider with all the required certifications and policies for compliance with data privacy and security laws.
Benefits of Hybrid Cloud Computing
  • Pay-as-you-go approach: Enterprises don’t require the same level of computation power or resources at all times. With a hybrid model, they can increase or decrease their resources and when required, rather than paying for idle resources. This approach is cost-effective, reduces the total cost of ownership, and improves flexibility.
  • Better security and compliance: As mentioned earlier, enterprises can store sensitive data in on-premise private cloud environments with hybrid clouds. The public cloud could be used for other non-critical data. Also, hybrid cloud solutions require centralized management of all environments, data, and processes. This makes it easier to implement enterprise-wide security protocols for encryption, access control, data sharing, and so on.
  • Better disaster recovery: Downtime can be catastrophic to enterprises. With a hybrid cloud, enterprises can backup all data adequately and store it across multiple cloud environments, making it easier to stay up and running.
  • Support for distributed work environments: With more enterprises promoting distributed work (across time zones and borders), it’s crucial to facilitate a computing environment accessible anytime, anywhere.
Key Challenges in Hybrid Cloud Data Management
Benefits of Hybrid Cloud Computing

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Key Takeaways - Hybrid Cloud Data Management
  • Hybrid cloud models combine cloud environments (be it public, private, on-premise, or colocated), crucial for better scalability, agility, and innovation. They also give enterprises greater control over their IT architectures. In addition to maintaining a competitive edge, enterprises with hybrid models can ensure business continuity and future-proof their IT.
  • For hybrid models to work, enterprises must ensure that they operate across locations, operating models, technologies and facilitate smooth data movement.
  • Hybrid cloud models won’t succeed without solid data management. A sound hybrid cloud data management strategy should help reduce costs, boost performance, mitigate security risks, and simplify governance via a unified platform.
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