email iconemail phone iconcall

What is hybrid cloud? Hybrid cloud is defined by a computing environment that incorporates infrastructure from multiple platforms and data centers, most often a combination of on-premises resources with those offered by a cloud service provider, but also potentially including multiple cloud platforms and services with no on-premises component.

Today’s Digital Landscape

Data services and architecture should be on servers. We call it cloud computing – they should be in a “cloud” somewhere

~ Eric Schmidt, 2006 Search Engine Strategies Conference (source)

Since the start of modern cloud computing in 2006, the cloud industry has erupted into a $153 billion market,
projected by Gartner to grow over 21% per year. This next generation model for server and compute resource consumption embodied a fundamental shift for enterprise companies that were, at the time, presented with a new surface for building applications and services. Before the cloud came into play, the on-premises data center hosted within a company’s walls was the only option and IT departments were responsible for acquiring and configuring the machinery to power the organization’s technological front.


When the cloud was first introduced, it met significant skepticism regarding the reliability and security of these services. As the years progressed and as cloud service providers such as Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and IBM poured engineering grit into their cloud products, popular applications such as Netflix declared that they were in fact running their workloads off-premises. It is important to emphasize that these early adopter companies had the luxury of growing up in a cloud world, where the time-to-market delivered by deploying in the cloud outweighed the time and cost of building an on-premises data center themselves.


But what about companies that had already invested millions of dollars in their in-house technology infrastructure that provided the successful foundation they were now fighting to maintain?


What about cost factors such as those cited by Dropbox of exclusively using public clouds?


What about the proliferation of developer tooling amongst both the public and private clouds that causes internal strife over which cloud to choose for a given task?


What about the security and governance concerns with placing sensitive information in data centers that are not hosted in-house?


The Paradox of Choice defines this cloud world, and the scattering of options makes things difficult to navigate and decipher. These challenges are here to stay and require that a hybrid cloud strategy be a core focus for innovators and decision makers within every enterprise as today’s business needs continue to demand a cloud strategy.

Navigating the Hybrid Cloud Maze

The technology sector moves faster than most, and the cloud age is at a stage of rapid transformation. Amidst this accelerating change are thought leaders striving to define the terminology and jargon used to describe this evolving ecosystem. It can be difficult to communicate in this environment as the common terms have not yet reached an established standard. Below is an example of the varying definitions used to define hybrid cloud.


Amazon – In cloud computing, hybrid cloud refers to the use of both on-premises resources in addition to public cloud resources.


MicrosoftA hybrid cloud is a computing environment that combines a public cloud and a private cloud by allowing data and applications to be shared between them.


IBM – A hybrid cloud uses a private cloud foundation combined with the strategic integration and use of public cloud services.


RedHat– A hybrid cloud is a combination of 1 or more public and private clouds orchestrated by management and automation software that allow workloads, resources, platforms, and applications to migrate between environments.


GartnerHybrid cloud refers to policy-based and coordinated service provisioning, use and management across a mixture of internal and external cloud services.


ZDNetOne or more public clouds connected to something in my data center. That thing could be a private cloud, that thing could just be traditional data center infrastructure.



To provide clarity, below are definitions for the most commonly used terms.

On-Premises Technology resources, data centers, and sources that are hosted within a company’s infrastructure. Typically this means that the company purchased hardware and is connected via a private network.
Public Cloud Technology resources, data centers, and sources that are hosted by a cloud service provider off-premises. These reside alongside other resources that are not occupied by a single company and are accessible via the public internet.
Private Cloud Technology resources, data centers and sources that are hosted either by a cloud service provider off-premises or within a company’s infrastructure, typically in conjunction with deployment/management container/Virtual Machine software such as VMWare, Openstack and Kubernetes. These reside amongst resources that are occupied by a single company and are accessible only by that occupying company via a private network.
Hybrid Cloud Technology resources, data centers and sources that incorporate infrastructure from multiple environments, most often a combination of on-premises resources in addition to those offered by a cloud service provider, but also including multiple cloud platforms with no on-premises component.
Inter Cloud Technology resources, data centers, and sources that span cloud service providers. Specifically this is defined by traffic moving between the cloud service provider’s off-premises infrastructure and may include an on-premises component. This is a subset of hybrid cloud.
Multi Cloud Technology resources, data centers, and sources that span multiple cloud service providers and on-premise resources. The difference between this and inter cloud is that there is no traffic between the cloud service providers in a multi-cloud architecture. The network between the cloud-service providers and on-premises resources may be via private network. This is a subset of hybrid cloud.


The Clouds Compared

On-Premises Single Cloud Hybrid Cloud
Ability to keep sensitive data in-house X
Flexible access to global footprint X
Choice of best of breed technology options X X
High Availability / Disaster Recovery ! !
Optimal control over SLAs X
No complexity of managing across clouds X
Avoid vendor lock-in / data autonomy / keep negotiating leverage X
Easy to accommodate infrastructure of acquired businesses X X


A Closer Look at Hybrid Cloud

Gartner defines four different cloud deployment models that IT organizations are undertaking, and all of them have some form of hybrid cloud at their core.

Graphic: A Closer Look at HyFour Scenarios of Hybrid Cloud Deployments


Architecture Spanning represents the case where the business is expanding its IT capacity with a cloud provider. This strategy may make sense for a variety of reasons that include the necessity to burst to the cloud for additional resources or to co-locate data where it is needed for performance or compliance factors. Note that with this form of hybrid cloud, the applications may live on infrastructure hosted by a cloud service provider and the data may reside within the company’s self-hosted data centers.


Use Case Specific describes when enterprises have versions of the same application deployed in different locations based on the stage of development. For example, a company may prefer that development and test occur in the cloud for flexibility where the production instance will run on specially provisioned in-house hardware. This case hinges on the fact that the application itself is not integrating with native cloud services.


Multi-Cloud is when a company runs different modern applications either all in the cloud or in an architecture spanning on-premises resources and also with those offered by multiple cloud providers. This model caters to a “developer-first” mindset, where the application developers are not siloed to a particular cloud and have the freedom to choose the technology that fits the task, whether it is offered by a cloud service provider or through custom, internal services.


Inter Cloud defines the evolution of the multi-data center, multi-residency design. This deployment features cross-cloud service provider traffic and boasts the ability to avoid vendor lock-in while taking advantage of the best of breed services. One example referenced by Gartner is: “Microsoft's PowerBI might connect to a Salesforce database residing outside of the Azure cloud infrastructure”.


All of the above types of hybrid cloud deployments come with their own array of caveats. It is important to design for the model that best fits the needs of the enterprise, where the balance of SLAs, cost, and technology offerings should drive decisions.

Industry Trends for Hybrid Cloud

Before diving into hybrid cloud trends, it is useful to look at the larger cloud picture for a foundation. It is clear that this market is continuing to grow with impressive pace.

Worlwide Public Cloud Service Revenue Forecast (Billions of U.S. Dollars)






Cloud Business Process Services (BPaaS)






Cloud Application Infrastructure Services (PaaS)






Cloud Application Services (SaaS)






Cloud Management and Security Services






Cloud System Infrastructure Services (IaaS)






Total Market






BPaaS = business process as a service; IaaS = infrastructure as a service; PaaS = platform as a service; SaaS = software as a service

Note: Totals may not add up due to rounding. Source: Gartner (April 2018)

Hybrid Cloud Trends and Increased Adoption

Chart: Change in 2018 Public Cloud Spend


Within the cloud market, there are clear front-runners, though adoption is increasing throughout the field.

Chart: Respondents Running Apps 2017 vs. 2018


The following chart shows that the strong majority of enterprises are adopting multi-cloud strategies with 51% citing hybrid cloud. This must be taken with a grain of salt, since, as mentioned before, definitions for multi- and hybrid cloud vary depending on the defining source. The trend, however, is prominent, as companies are moving to the cloud to thrive in today’s enterprise economy via the deployment of powerful, mission-critical applications.

Chart: Respondents with 1,000+ Employees


Gartner also states that “By 2020, most data and analytics use cases will require connecting to distributed data sources” and “most organizations' DBMS deployments will coexist in the on-premises and cloud worlds simultaneously — the hybrid cloud DBMS”. There are new articles published every day referencing companies that are migrating a portion of their stack to off-premises infrastructure, and this shows no signs of stopping.


At DataStax, 63% of our customers have applications running on clouds, and more than half are deploying applications on multi-cloud, hybrid-cloud infrastructure environments, or a combination thereof. For more details on this, see this white paper.

Hybrid Cloud and DataStax Enterprise

DataStax Enterprise is the most powerful cloud database, designed for hybrid cloud. Whether public, private, or hybrid cloud, DataStax Enterprise easily spans across cloud regions and data centers with self-driving operational simplicity, allowing enterprises to easily deploy mission-critical applications across cloud environments without having to actually change anything about the applications.


A distributed cloud database enables you to leverage your hybrid multi-cloud architecture to:

  • Choose the services you want from each IaaS vendor with ease and ability
  • Design your architecture with the cloud services you choose
  • Geographically distribute data to meet governance and compliance requirements
  • Implement services on your on-prem database and leverage resources from multi-clouds
  • Seamlessly leverage tools offered by different IaaS vendors or move across vendors to scale for incredible data volumes, without downtime
  • Protect apps and customer experience from service disruptions with the ability to replicate to on prem or across clouds, or evacuate regions due to outage concerns
Market Leadership

Learn what makes DataStax a data management market leader.

Learn More
circular icon with increasing bar graph and up arrow
DataStax Products

Learn about DataStax Enterprise and how it can transform your company.

Learn More
circular icon with cylinder to represent products