What is a hybrid cloud?
A hybrid cloud is a combination of two or more different types of infrastructure: a public cloud, and either a private cloud or on-premises infrastructure. Hybrid cloud deployments are increasingly common; many companies want to combine the power of public cloud computing with more tightly controlled private infrastructure.
What does hybrid cloud architecture look like?
Hybrid cloud architecture can vary quite a bit. A hybrid cloud deployment could combine on-premises infrastructure with a public cloud:
It could also combine a public cloud with a private cloud:
Or it could combine multiple public clouds, private clouds, and on-premises infrastructure. Regardless of the specific setup used, all hybrid cloud architecture will have some traits in common:
- Data integration: An organization's data will be synchronized across their public cloud and non-public cloud infrastructure. Synchronizing data across these different infrastructures can be a challenge, and a business may need to implement an additional technical solution to automatically keep data consistent.
- Network connections: Private clouds, legacy infrastructure, and public clouds are connected to each other, either via the public Internet or over a private network. This network connectivity is crucial for a hybrid cloud deployment to function.
- Unified management: Ideally, hybrid cloud management is handled by one overarching tool, eliminating the need to manage each cloud separately. Managing clouds separately can be difficult because each cloud will have different APIs,* different SLAs,** and different capabilities and features.
*An API, or application programming interface, allows an application to "call" a feature or functionality from another application – or in this case, a cloud service – and incorporate that feature or functionality into the application's own service.
**An "SLA" is a service-level agreement, and it defines the services that a cloud vendor will provide.
How are hybrid clouds connected?
For hybrid clouds, the network connections between the different infrastructures are very important. If they aren't connected, an organization isn't truly running a hybrid cloud. Instead, they're running several clouds in parallel with each other, and data may not be aligned across all clouds.
Public clouds, private clouds, and on-premises infrastructure can be connected via these methods:
- VPN: A VPN, or virtual private network, enables secure, encrypted connections over the Internet. Since VPN traffic is encrypted, anyone or any machine connected to a VPN can communicate as securely as if they were connected to a private internal network. With a VPN, clouds and on-premises infrastructure can connect safely over the public Internet.
- WAN: A wide area network (WAN) is a network that connects computers over distance, as opposed to a local area network (LAN) that connects computers locally (within the same building or on the same premises). Connections over a WAN are more reliable than connections over the public Internet. For hybrid clouds, a WAN should still encrypt connections using a VPN.
- APIs: API integrations are crucial for making a hybrid cloud work by connecting platforms, databases, applications, and so on. API calls are sent from one cloud to another as HTTP requests, and they can either be sent over the open Internet, a VPN, or a WAN.
How does Cloudflare support hybrid cloud deployments?
Cloudflare makes it easier to manage hybrid cloud deployments in addition to other types of cloud deployments such as multicloud. The Cloudflare cloud network, which is distributed across 200 cities in 100 countries, sits in front of any cloud infrastructure and handles DNS, DDoS protection, content acceleration, TLS encryption, and other essential functions. Cloudflare also helps with user access control, a crucial aspect of any cloud deployment.