When to use Hybrid Cloud Hosting

Hybrid hosting is becoming more and more popular lately, giving the opportunity to combine the performance and reliability of a dedicated server with the elasticity of cloud hosting solutions and security of a private cloud. The type of solution is especially suitable for eCommerce websites and others with unpredictable and fluctuating traffic or short term spikes such as during Christmas sales, special promotions and similar.

Hybrid Cloud structureGetting Hybrid hosting often means having a load balancer, which directs traffic to a specific server depending on the current amount of traffic. If your dedicated server or VPS starts getting too much traffic, the load balancer redirects some visitors to the more flexible and elastic public cloud. Meanwhile, important information such as customer data is stored in a private cloud, to keep it secured from prying fingers. If you know a bit about different types of hosting, it can be said that Hybrid VPS is to VPS what Semi-Dedicated is to Shared hosting – in other words a more powerful solution, and a good option for a growing business. If instead comparing hybrid solutions with dedicated servers, you often find that a hybrid VPS can have performance similar to a mid-range dedicated server, but usually coming with much lower subscription fees.

Many web hosting providers, such as Codero, Hivelocity, SolarVPS and Steadfast, are now offering hybrid cloud hosting, having recommended solutions as well as completely customizable plans to suit any need.

To offer a more in depth explanation of what hybrid cloud hosting is, let’s look at the different components, Private Cloud and Public Cloud hosting, before getting back to what to think about when selecting a hosting provider.

Public Cloud

A public cloud solution is typically an easily deployed, flexible and scalable solution for apps and services facing the public web. If you for example use web based email such as Gmail, or file storage and backup services such as Dropbox, you are using services based on public cloud. Services based on public cloud can enhance collaborative efforts in distributed teams, and solutions are created by anything from a single entrepreneur to global corporations, increasing accessibility while reducing costs. With a public cloud app, costs are flexible and depend on how much you use.

With public cloud you get guaranteed performance and quality of service with dedicated engineers keeping the hosting as you need it. However, since on a public cloud, you still need to select a good and reputable hosting provider who doesn’t let too many clients share the same server, which can be troublesome if some of your “neighbors” often experience spikes in traffic or need intensive data crunching.

Private Cloud

Private CloudMost businesses and organizations have some type of data they need to keep secret from the public. For example financial or healthcare institutions need to keep client and patient data confidential, thereby needing a secure option out of reach for people with ill intent. In a similar way, the telecom and retail industries have rules and regulations about data privacy, making a private cloud the most suitable for their needs. When it comes to private cloud hosting costs tend to be fixed, since parameters such as bandwidth and storage needs are usually predictable.

A private cloud solution gives you complete control, which also means you need to have IT expertise and resources available. However, this also gives you advantages such as dedicated infrastructure where servers and storage can be according to your needs and unmetered bandwidth. With that said, there are some hosting companies who offer managed private cloud hosting as well, but of course that makes you dependent on their technical staff for smooth running of the private servers.

Hybrid Cloud

As the name suggests, and mentioned above, a hybrid cloud solution is a mix between private and public cloud solutions in a network where data moves between the two. Many organizations need to have both a public facing web presence and protected area for confidential and private data, which is where hybrid hosting comes in, to take advantage of both worlds. An example of this could be an eCommerce business with an online shop which needs to keep a significant amount of data confidential, and only accessible by the right person or people while also having a public store front to present their products. When it comes to costs, hybrid cloud hosting solutions have a fixed cost for the private cloud plus a variable cost for the public facing cloud.

Hybrid cloud hostingUsing a private cloud when needing high-level security protection and a public cloud for cases where you need scalability lets you take advantage of the best of both solution types. This often means having more complex solutions while keeping everything in-house. If getting traffic spikes or temporarily using certain services, the variable cost comes in as pay-per-use, but usually most of the costs are fixed.

Hybrid Cloud usage, benefits and concerns

The countries with most widespread use of hybrid hosting are currently Japan, Australia, USA and Germany, but with a predicted annual growth of 15-20% in the sector, the numbers can change quickly as other countries catch up.

Common applications and services moving to the cloud include:

  • Conferencing and collaboration
  • Office and productivity tools and suites
  • Storage
  • Messaging
  • Business process applications

According to cloud users, some of the benefits are:

  • Increased efficiency
  • Improved mobility
  • Ability to innovate and offer new or improved services
  • More time for IT staff to work on other projects
  • Reduced IT costs

Common usage for hybrid cloud solutions:

  • Financial sector
  • Healthcare
  • Retail
  • Law firms

Common reasons for not moving to public cloud solutions include:

  • Price: For some technical solutions, especially ones with relatively predictable traffic and storage needs, it can still be cheaper to use for example a dedicated server or VPS to satisfy business needs.
  • Security: Often a concern for corporations and institutions with confidential data, wanting to keep as much as possible in house.
  • Not understanding the technology: Setting up and maintaining a cloud server can seem like a daunting task where special skills are needed. However, many hosting providers offer managed hosting and can also help create solutions suitable for most needs.
  • Incompatible with specific applications: Although each year sees more and more cloud hosting solutions, there are still a few applications where not all needs are met.

Selecting a hosting provider

Find a Hybrid Cloud providerSince cloud computing, as well as web hosting in general, is constantly evolving, we recommend looking at which providers have the expertise and experience of configuring and maintaining their servers while also having a reputation of a helpful support – besides factors such as uptime, response time and general reliability, which need to be on your mind for any kind of hosting.

Just like with dedicated servers and VPS, hybrid cloud hosting can come as managed or unmanaged, and it’s important that you understand the difference before ordering a solution. With managed hosting you can have different flavors from partly to fully managed, where the hosting company manages everything technical on the server, and you can use your IT skills and resources to more or less ignore any server issues since the hosting provider maintains and configures everything according to your needs. With a completely unmanaged solution you take care of configuration and maintenance yourself, usually including if something goes wrong with your setup. However, many companies have support available which can be contacted if there’s an issue you can’t solve – this often comes at an extra cost though, unless the issue is on the hosting side, which is highly uncommon among the top hosting providers mentioned here.

From our experience and customer reviews, in recent years Steadfast has grown to become the best choice for hybrid hosting, as they offer well maintained and properly configured servers with both private and public clouds besides the hybrid solution. The company has years of experience with both managed and unmanaged cloud hosting, VPS, dedicated server hosting and everything between, meaning that even before hybrid cloud hosting started becoming popular they had all the technical knowledge necessary for the hosting services. They also have great response time for support questions, and if there’s anything unsatisfactory always follow up and try to resolve the situation. Of course, every situation is unique to some extent, with different hosting needs and concerns, and if uncertain you should also have a look at other hybrid cloud hosting services to compare and learn more about advantages and differences between hosting providers.

Written 2015-12-09 (Updated 2016-10-10)
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Written by Emil Hunefalk

Emil has been a blogger and web developer since the late 1990's. He has web, mobile and desktop experience from both large and small projects, in some cases handling everything from user experience to development.

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