Cloud computing

What is hybrid cloud?

Hybrid cloud is a combination of 1 or more public and private cloud environments. It’s a pool of virtual resources—developed partially from hardware owned and managed by a third-party company as well as hardware owned by the enterprise using the cloud—orchestrated by management and automation software that allows users to access the resources on-demand through self-service portals supported by automatic scaling and dynamic resource allocation.

While the public and private cloud environments that make up a hybrid cloud remain unique and separate entities, migrating between them is facilitated by encrypted application programming interfaces (APIs) that help transmit resources and workloads. This separate—yet connected—architecture is what allows enterprises to run critical workloads in the private cloud, less sensitive workloads in the public cloud, and pull resources from either environment as desired. It’s an arrangement that minimizes data exposure and allows enterprises to customize a scalable, flexible, and secure portfolio of IT resources and services.

Today’s hybrid cloud environments can include on-premise infrastructure, traditional virtualization, bare-metal servers, and containers. Furthermore, the hybrid cloud may be made up of multiple public clouds hosted by more than 1 provider.

How do hybrid clouds work?


Interoperability is the fundamental base of hybrid clouds. Without it, public clouds and private clouds can exist independently of one another but not be considered hybrid—even if they're being used by the same company. If an organization houses all customer-facing applications in the public cloud and all enterprise applications in a private cloud, pulling resources only from the cloud it’s stored on with no infrastructure between them, it's not hybrid. Hybrid clouds include multiple touch points and are composed of shared core software services that allow workloads, resources, platforms, and applications can migrate between environments.


It's possible to manage a hybrid cloud environment manually through multiple management tools, redundant policy implementations, and extra operations staff. But cloud management tools (like Red Hat® CloudForms) exist to simplify the process—providing unified management and operations for hybrid environments. These unified management platforms abstract the underlying technology and consolidate the administrative tasks across environments, letting operators and users control environment lifecycles, self-service, automation, policy enforcement, and chargeback across deployments.


A private cloud can simplify scalability and provide on demand access to resources beyond what is easily accomplished by virtualization. Public clouds can make scaling even easier by providing access to a (theoretically) unlimited pool of resources. When both distributions are integrated in a hybrid environment, you can scale up or out as needed: Clouds support cloud-native applications by scaling out while virtualization supports traditional workloads by scaling up.

Hybrid cloud security

Security is always a top concern for enterprises—regardless of the environment. While there are some unique hybrid cloud security challenges (like data migration, increased complexity, and a larger attack surface), the presence of multiple environments can be one of the strongest defenses against security risks. Hybrid clouds let enterprises choose where to place workloads and data based on compliance, audit, policy, or security requirements. A properly designed, integrated, and managed hybrid cloud can be as secure as traditional on-premise environments, and there are even a number of reasons why government agencies should adopt hybrid clouds.

Cloud-native application development

Hybrid cloud, DevOps, and cloud-native applications are all helping bridge the gap between yesterday’s monolithic architectures and today’s modern application development approaches. Hybrid clouds connect the private and public clouds (which have historically been used independently by development and operations teams) so that applications can be ported back and forth across environments and teams as needed. It provides a stable compute foundation to build, deploy, and manage those applications.

Allowing cloud environments, containers and virtual platforms to run side-by-side in a hybrid cloud environment frees development and operations teams to release and scale as needed. This interconnected nature allows development and operations teams to work together in a DevOps model: A process by which teams work collaboratively across integrated environments using microservice-based applications supported by containers.

Why Red Hat

It's hard to abstract the varied benefits of these technologies when proprietary code inhibits them from interacting with one another. For an enterprise to realize the value of a hybrid environment, each environment needs to work across every business and IT department—not just a portion that’s running on a homogeneous software stack. Enterprises have always run a heterogeneous set of technologies. We see this with hybrid clouds today. But cloud silos based on proprietary technology aren't the right answer, which is why we’re all about open hybrid clouds.

Open hybrid clouds bring the interoperability, workload portability, and flexibility of open source to hybrid environments. It’s backed by thousands of developers from hundreds of communities creating platforms that bridge datacenters with clouds, incorporate infrastructure with containers, and test security limitations. Open source solutions keeps long-term interoperability in mind and streamlines the deployment process when migrating from 1 cloud provider to another or from an on-premises environment to a cloud-based one.

Our portfolio of cloud products can bridge environments together: optimizing traditional applications, supporting cloud-native apps, and creating a unified experience between them.

Useful tips for IT leaders―delivered right to your inbox

Get important tech insights―like this hybrid cloud advice―in the Red Hat Shares newsletter.

Currently available in English only

All the pieces you need to create a hybrid cloud


A stable, proven foundation that’s versatile enough for rolling out new applications, virtualizing environments, and creating a secure hybrid cloud.


A management and operations platform that unifies hybrid cloud environments.


A combination of tightly integrated Red Hat technologies that lets you build and manage an open, private cloud.


All the private cloud infrastructure and management tools you need plus a container application platform that helps you move workloads across hybrid environments.


The distributors, managed service providers, and partners that can help you build a public cloud.

There’s a lot more to do with hybrid cloud