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What is hybrid cloud?

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Hybrid cloud refers to a combination of at least 2 computing environments that share information with one another and run a uniform series of applications for a business or enterprise. Those environments may include:

  • At least 1 private cloud and at least 1 public cloud
  • 2 or more private clouds
  • 2 or more public clouds
  • One bare-metal (physical hardware) or virtual environment connected to at least 1 cloud

The term "cloud" describes a network of on-demand computing resources accessed over the internet. This ecosystem facilitates the delivery and exchange of computing services such as data storage, software applications, analytics, and intelligence tools.

The rise of hybrid cloud as a concept reflects the increasingly fuzzy lines between traditional types of clouds. Early public and private clouds were distinguished by location and ownership, with public clouds being run off premise by third-party providers and private clouds being run locally by the party utilizing the services. Today’s cloud types are far more complex, because location and ownership are abstract considerations.

For example, public clouds used to only run off-premise, but public cloud providers are now running cloud services on their clients’ on-premise data centers. Private clouds used to only run on-premises, but organizations are now building private clouds on rented, vendor-owned data centers located off-premises. Regardless of the physical location, when clouds are combined, we use 1 of 2 terms to describe that environment: multicloud or hybrid cloud.

A multicloud strategy works by treating different clouds as totally separate platforms, each with their own set of applications and management.

A hybrid cloud strategy promotes workload portability–which means that applications work consistently across different environments, allowing for a single computing platform to span across and communicate with multiple clouds. All hybrid cloud environments should:

  • Connect multiple computers through a network.
  • Consolidate IT resources into a single pool.
  • Scale out and quickly supply new resources.
  • Be able to move workloads between environments.
  • Incorporate a single, unified management tool.
  • Orchestrate processes with the help of automation.

As cloud computing technology continues to evolve and gain popularity, many enterprise users may find themselves accidentally operating within a hybrid cloud infrastructure. How?

There are a lot of cloud service providers out there, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. Each provider offers a unique set of benefits that appeal to different types of users. Perhaps a company acquires another organization that uses a different cloud environment. Or maybe teams within the same company opt for different providers based on their individual needs.

From these multi-cloud beginnings, organizations are compelled to integrate their disparate applications to provide customers with better service, new features or faster response time. As the applications running in the different clouds become more interconnected, companies find themselves stepping into hybrid cloud environments out of necessity.

There are benefits to picking and choosing providers and services based on your business needs. A company may find that one provider offers a superior email suite while another provides higher security measures for processing customer data.

While there’s nothing wrong with cherry-picking to get what you need, it’s important to consider that each of these companies have different protocols and require different skill sets.

If your team is tasked with learning and memorizing multiple systems, you risk creating division, repetition, and nurturing systems of inefficiency, which can harm your bottom line.

Alternatively, with a hybrid approach, your team can focus on learning 1 singular system to manage your entire portfolio of software services. This allows for a more collaborative work environment, a lower cognitive load for your team members, and higher levels of consistency and efficiency overall.

An intentional approach to hybrid cloud architecture

The way you organize your cloud resources and build a hybrid cloud will be as unique as your fingerprint. Different companies offer different solutions, and there's no one-size-fits-all model for cloud architecture

Modern IT teams build hybrid clouds by focusing on developing and deploying apps as collections of small, independent, and loosely coupled services. Without a consistent approach, a lack of harmony between differing services and platforms can create redundancy, inefficiency, excessive spending, and above all, confusion. 

Application and data integration are critical modern business tools. In order to stay competitive, the applications and devices at the core of your business strategy must be accessible to each other.

You can achieve a consistent computing environment by managing your interconnected cloud resources using a unified orchestration platform. This means that teams can worry less about maintaining systems, and focus more on building useful products.

IDC MarketScape report: Red Hat a leader in cloud management

Red Hat was named a leader in IDC’s 2024 assessment of vendors for multicloud and hybrid cloud management with automation. According to IDC, enterprises can confidently choose Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform, thanks to its “comprehensive capabilities and broad support in accelerating automation maturity.”

Get the report

It’s hard to get the benefits of a unified environment when proprietary code stands in the way. Our open hybrid cloud strategy, supported by our open source technologies, allows for consistent interaction with any app in nearly any environment without retraining people, splitting management, or sacrificing security.

Public clouds aren’t right for every workload, and building a private cloud by yourself can get complicated—and expensive. When you build a cloud (any cloud) with Red Hat, you can rely on our experienced teams to help you develop a roadmap that takes you from where you are to where you want to be. 

Open hybrid cloud is an approach to cloud computing that allows our customers to take advantage of their existing hybrid IT, while setting themselves up for future advances in technology. By using Red Hat technology and working with our partners, customers can: 

  • Run any application or workload consistently across any footprint.
  • Help developers quickly build, deploy, and manage applications.
  • Simplify, automate, and secure processes.

If you’re worried about moving existing applications or aren’t sure exactly which approach to take, you’ll get direct support from our engineering, support, and product management teams–a cross-functional approach to make sure people, processes, and technologies are aligned and working as productively as possible.

A hybrid cloud uses some of the same fundamental technologies as standalone public clouds or private clouds:

Separate clouds become hybrid when those environments are connected as seamlessly as possible. That interconnectivity is the way hybrid clouds work—and it’s why hybrid clouds are the foundation of edge computing. That interconnectivity is how workloads are moved, management is unified, and processes are orchestrated. How well-developed those connections are has a direct impact on how well your hybrid cloud works.

Keep reading


What is cloud management?

Learn the facets of cloud management and how a cloud management platform can help your enterprise.


What are managed IT services?

Managed services are a way to offload general tasks to an expert, in order to reduce costs, improve service quality, or free internal teams to do work that’s specific to your business.


Why build a Red Hat cloud?

Our open hybrid cloud strategy, supported by our open source technologies brings a consistent foundation to any cloud deployment: public, private, hybrid, or multi.

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