Between the private cloud, public cloud and traditional IT infrastructure, senior IT personnel like CIOs and CTOs are being forced to make important decisions regarding where their data lives and how it’s served up. This is a daunting task, isn’t it?

If you find yourself in this position, you need to ask yourself some tough questions like:

  • Should we outsource to a cloud vendor? What data should we outsource?
  • Should we create our own cloud onsite? What do we need to learn about this?
  • Should we commit to their traditional methods? Will our employees turn to Shadow IT?
  • What is hybrid cloud storage? Should we use it? Will the ROI be worth it?

The reason IT leadership is making these decisions is because these choices impact two critical elements of the business, productivity and security. Maybe more importantly, these choices impact the bottom line and therefore C-level executives get involved.

If you go with the cloud, it’s important to measure visible and hidden costs to make sure you’re getting the best total cost of ownership (TCO). If you stick with traditional infrastructure, will your users find it easy or will you develop some Shadow IT risks that could cost you down the line? Should you take a more careful look at all these technologies and create a hybrid cloud storage infrastructure?

In this article, we’ll help you understand what the ideal mix of storage offerings is and we’ll tell you what 9/10 IT pros had to say about the ROI of their favorite solution. But first, let’s make sure we understand what hybrid cloud storage is…

What is Hybrid Cloud Storage?

Hybrid Cloud Storage means that you have controlled cloud access to your files and/or data behind your firewall at some level. Essentially, you’re using some mix of the public cloud, private cloud and traditional IT in your infrastructure.

Ideal on-premises appliances can use their own storage or connect to existing storage and infrastructure to provide cloud access. Thus, this connects to your traditional IT infrastructure and creates a private cloud. For it to be a hybrid cloud storage solution, public cloud isn’t necessary but is an option. SmartFile’s FileHub™ is an example of a hybrid cloud storage provider for your files.

Let’s take a look at each element of hybrid cloud storage so we can better understand its purpose, starting with the public cloud storage.

The True Purpose of Public Cloud Storage

The public cloud is often redundant and limiting. The main benefit of the public cloud isn’t access, it’s bandwidth and cost-related. Private cloud, using an on-premises appliance, offers more control over access.

Public cloud does have its place, though, especially with regards to bandwidth and cost, but the risk is too much to ignore. So, let’s take a deeper look some aspects of the public cloud.

Enterprise level public cloud storage isn’t found with your traditional file sync-and-share solution, and often storage like Amazon S3, while convenient, doesn’t give you the analytic insight you need surrounding your files and user access.

With regards to cloud file sharing tools, sync is a major risk for any enterprise or small business. In fact, the average business uploads over 5 terabytes of data a month to cloud accounts — in which nearly 16% contains sensitive data like budgets, IP and PII data — and over 37% is shared externally each month (source). There are significant risks, but for some, the promise of reduced costs is promising, as many like the idea of pay-as-you-go storage, especially the kind that doesn’t eat up your internal bandwidth.

So how can you leverage the public cloud in your hybrid cloud storage network? First, don’t go with public cloud storage or a basic file-sync-and-share tool. Go with a file management tool which is focused on security and compliance like SmartFile. Tools like this are still great for off-loading huge files that are accessed by external clients — which would typically eat up your bandwidth.

For instance, if you were a marketing agency, you could push the biggest files for your clients to SmartFile’s cloud one time, and your outside clients and media partners could grab those files off SmartFile’s storage, not yours. This also means they’re using SmartFile’s bandwidth, not yours.

This gives you a secure file management space for your largest files that get the highest traffic. From there, you can manage and govern upload, download and file access rights as well to ensure only the right people have access to this data. Also, by avoiding a risky and overrated sync setup (SmartFile doesn’t offer sync), you decrease the risk of a security breach thanks to poor file sharing practices or a malicious virus like ransomware impacting all of your files behind your firewall too.

What is the Private Cloud Storage and Why is It Important?

The private cloud gives your internal users and select external users a safe place to store, access and exchange files. If you’re using an on-premises appliance, typically this will have enhanced features to enhance compliance and improve employee adoption rates.

With the private cloud, you’re looking for a balanced on-premises solution. You need a tool that focuses on compliance while meeting the demands of the non-IT employee. This helps you deal with a number of Shadow IT risks because you give the end user a tool that looks and feels like a consumer file sharing product but with enterprise-grade compliance safeguards. Again, this is where public cloud gets redundant if you’re not interested in the storage or bandwidth issues.

what is hybrid cloud storage private cloud?
The SmartFile Private Cloud Enhances Hybrid Cloud Storage Environments

Private Cloud Storage can use your existing storage on your network or the native storage on the device. The most advanced on-premises appliances like FileHub™ can handle both scenarios. This gives you options for your private cloud and gives it flexible positioning within your infrastructure. Speaking of your network, let’s take a deeper look at how hybrid cloud storage combines the private cloud with your traditional IT infrastructure…

Integrating the Private Cloud With Your Own Hardware For a Hybrid Cloud Storage Solution

Hybrid cloud storage leverages the public cloud, private cloud and/or your existing infrastructure at some level. Even if you ignore the public cloud because it’s not needed for your team, you’ll still be leveraging hybrid cloud storage because your using your own hardware and the private cloud.

Your private cloud should be able to leverage your existing storage and give IT visibility into file activity and actions there that they wouldn’t have in just a traditional IT setup. It could sit right on top of your existing hardware, integrating with your servers to give you a single gateway for enhanced file management, governance and access across your network.

Alternatively, you might want a tool that sits apart from your existing storage. The best tools should be able to do both, and again, that’s where SmartFile’s on-premises appliance gives you a true hybrid cloud storage environment. It can be your standalone private cloud or enhance traditional IT infrastructure. And, again, it can push up to SmartFile’s secure cloud solution too.

So What’s Your Best Option?

The fun and often challenging part about a hybrid cloud storage deployment is integrations. This is where IT project management skills and advanced planning come into play. When should you leverage the native storage on an on-premises appliance? Should you just use your own storage and leverage the features of an on-premises appliance instead? And even with the risks, public cloud is likely tempting you, so you should shift more and more to an enterprise file-sync-and-share tool and use the public cloud?

Well, with regards to the public cloud and how it compares to these tools, let’s take a look at this data first:

shadow-it-file-sharing-graph

This graphic shows the riskiest ways people share files, and sync-and-share is front and center. You nearly double the security risks of an on-premises deployment. While pure public cloud storage like Amazon S3 isn’t listed, you still wouldn’t gain visibility into file activity on those devices. Are those files being moved, copied or deleted? It’s still risky in comparison to private cloud or your own infrastructure.

Going back to the graphic, you also see that while a homegrown on-premises appliance is the least risky, it’s nearly the same level of risk as going with an expert vendor that builds balanced on-premises file management tools. What this graphic doesn’t show you is the success rate of a homegrown solution. It’s fair to say that it will take a lot of time to build and maintain a tool that is as easy as a consumer-grade tool while keeping up enterprise grade security. If you fail to make it easy, your team will go to a shadow IT solution. If you fail to make it secure, you increase risks. Either way, you’re wasting time building a tool when it might be cheaper from a TCO standpoint to leverage a tool like FileHub™.

Now that we understand the risks, you’re starting to move in the right direction. Next, you’ll focus on questions regarding ROI and the financial impact of your decisions. Rest assured that hybrid cloud storage is the way to go. In fact, 9 out of 10 frontrunners who’ve already started using hybrid cloud solutions believe it gives them a higher ROI than an all-traditional or all-cloud environment.

9 out of 10 frontrunners who’ve already started using hybrid cloud solutions believe it gives them a higher ROI than an all-traditional or all-cloud environment

The solution is clear. You need to take the hybrid cloud storage approach. It has the best ROI and is one of your least risky options. At this point, you’re just trying to figure out the logistics and scalability options. This is where an appliance like SmartFile’s FileHub™ shines. You can leverage it at various points across your infrastructure and we’ll handle maintenance and updates for you. It has all the benefits of a secure cloud behind your firewall. It’s time to switch to a hybrid cloud storage environment, and start by chatting with our team about SmartFile’s on-premises appliances.

At this point, you’re on your own. You’re not wondering “what is hybrid cloud storage?” anymore. You’re not wondering what the advantages are. It’s time to take action. Go about creating your infrastructure and server consolidation plans and get started planning your hybrid cloud storage deployment!

what is hybrid cloud storage

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About Curtis Peterson

I'm the Digital Marketing Manager for SmartFile who loves content, email marketing and web analytics. As a child, I built awesome websites with animated starry night backgrounds and multi-colored font headers on AngelFire and GeoCities.

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