What is a Hybrid Cloud?

Cloud computing centers around using Internet-based applications instead of locally-run services. A hybrid cloud is a computing style that utilizes select methods of cloud computing and traditional computing practices. While a hybrid cloud may have any combination of cloud and standard computing, the most common configurations involve cloud-based applications and standard database and storage solutions. This removes the need for a company to maintain as many application programs while still safeguarding important or private corporate information.

In any case where a computer term references the cloud, it is a direct reference to the Internet. This term originally referenced the interconnection of phone systems—it then moved to modem hubs and the Internet. In cloud computing, the defining feature is accessing information from Internet-based sources.

The cornerstone of cloud computing is moving users away from a local application to an Internet-based one. This is accompanied by a basic change in software practice. In the past, a company would purchase a program with licenses for its users to install on individual machines.

With cloud computing, the company purchases a subscription package that gives its users access to a web interface for a program. As long as the company pays the subscription fee, the workers have access. If the company no longer needs the program, it may simply end the subscription and move on.

While this is great for some companies, others find the off-site storage of data troubling. In most cloud systems, data generated by workers is stored in the same location as the cloud application. While this doesn’t mean the data is any more or less secure than if it is stored locally, it is out of the control of the subscribing company. In addition, if the company ends its association with the cloud program, the data is no longer accessible.

A hybrid cloud allows companies to use cloud services while maintaining control of their information. The most common hybrid cloud configuration allows the cloud application to access local resources. This still reduces the company’s dependence on local applications, but eliminates the biggest security threat of a cloud system.
In many ways, the improved security of a hybrid cloud is more in the minds of the users than reality. Cloud applications are often served by some of the largest, and most secure, computer companies in the world. In addition, since the companies that hold the information are software- and Internet-based, they often have stronger security than more general companies.