Cloud computing

What is hybrid cloud?

Hybrid cloud is a combination of 2 or more cloud environments—public or private. It’s a pool of abstracted resources that could be developed partially from hardware owned and managed by a third-party company as well as hardware owned by the enterprise using the cloud.

These resources are orchestrated by management and automation software that allow users to access the cloud on-demand through self-service portals. And everything is supported by automatic scaling and dynamic resource allocation.

This separate yet connected architecture lets you run some workloads in 1 cloud, others in another cloud, pull resources from either, and use the clouds interchangeably—making hybrid clouds an important part of edge computing.

Once defined as a combination of 1 or more public and private clouds, increased obscurity between cloud providers and on-prem datacenters has led to a more generic definition of hybrid clouds. Today, a hybrid cloud could consist of:

  • 2 or more interconnected public clouds
  • 2 or more interconnected private clouds
  • 1 or more private clouds connected to 1 or more public clouds

How do hybrid clouds work?

The way public and private clouds work as part of a hybrid cloud is no different than how standalone public or private clouds work: Something (virtualization, containers, or software-defined storage) abstracts resources and pools them into clouds; automation software allocates these resources; and management tools provision new environments. Private and public clouds become hybrid clouds when application programming interfaces (APIs), virtual private networks (VPNs), or wide area networks (WANs) connect the 2 environments as seamlessly as possible.

That interconnectivity is the only way hybrid clouds work. Without it, you just have separate public and private clouds. How well-developed those connections are has a direct impact on how well a hybrid cloud works. And the most important technology behind strong cloud connections is often the most overlooked: the operating system.

The consistency, reliability, and flexibility of the operating system determines how smooth the connections between public and private clouds are. If you use the same operating system to build your private cloud, use your public cloud, and bind them into a hybrid cloud, then your environments will be so interconnected that they'll become immaterial—users won’t know or care what their workloads are running on. But in order to build a hybrid cloud like that, you have to start with the operating system.

How do I build a hybrid cloud?

First, a disclaimer: Every cloud is unique. Private clouds are one-of-a-kind and there are thousands of public cloud providers. There's no one-size-fits-all solution to building a hybrid cloud. The way you build your hybrid cloud will be as unique as your fingerprint, but there are a few basic principles.

You need a private cloud, which you can build on your own or use prepackaged cloud infrastructure like OpenStack®. You also need a public cloud, like the Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Providers below. We work with these providers to make sure our products work—and work well—in their environments.

Alibaba Cloud Logo
Amazon web services
Microsoft Azure logo

Finally, you need to link the public and private cloud environments. While there are a lot of ways to transfer data across clouds, virtual private networks (VPNs) are the standard. Many of the major cloud providers even give customers a preconfigured VPN as part of their subscription packages:

If you use one of these preconfigured VPNs, it's important to insulate users, services, and apps from provider-specific API calls or proprietary tools and technologies. Placing an agnostic container platform—like Red Hat OpenShift®—between users (or the organizational boundary) and public cloud services and resources increases your ability to move from 1 cloud provider to another during future migrations.

What is an open hybrid cloud?

Open hybrid clouds are a type of enterprise IT architecture made up of open source software that lets users write a cloud-native application in 1 environment—such as a private or public cloud, physical machine, or virtual infrastructure―and deploy it in any other environment without rewriting the app, retraining people, or sacrificing security. Open hybrid clouds encourage an enterprise IT system that isn’t bound to a single IT footprint.

So how are open hybrid clouds different from hybrid clouds?

  • Hybrid clouds are computing environments while open hybrid clouds are an IT architecture.
  • Hybrid clouds focus primarily on IT infrastructure while open hybrid clouds focus equally on infrastructure, platforms, and apps.
  • Hybrid clouds can be completely proprietary while open hybrid clouds rely on open source technology, standards, and APIs to let data—and ideas—flow consistently from 1 place to another.

Are hybrid clouds secure?

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.

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All the pieces you need to create a hybrid cloud


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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.


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