What Is Hybrid Cloud Networking?

A hybrid cloud network securely connects public and private clouds, allowing organizations to gain the benefit from both cloud models.

What Is a Hybrid Cloud?

Hybrid cloud environments combine infrastructure from the public cloud, such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, or the Google Cloud Platform, with an organization’s private cloud or data center, allowing organizations to choose the right computing model for specific applications, data, and workloads. The primary advantage of a hybrid cloud is agility: Organizations can scale compute resources up and down according to need, and choose where workloads are processed based on requirements for data security and workload sensitivity. 

Types of cloud

As a general concept, cloud computing refers to the delivery of computing services, including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, and analytics, over the secure networks and can take multiple forms, including public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud.

Hybrid cloud refers to the combination of public and private cloud environments, which are connected through a dedicated secured network. Hybrid cloud offers benefits such as improved security, data protection, and more flexible operations. Organizations can migrate and manage workloads between cloud environments to optimize processing flexibility, cost, and control based on specific business or regulatory requirements. A hybrid cloud can also be used as part of a disaster recovery strategy, or to dynamically scale out capacity based on performance conditions (“bursting”). 

The hybrid cloud can also help deliver faster innovation. Organizations can use public cloud resources to speed up development of new apps, or make use of the latest technologies such as AI or machine learning, without having to invest in new hardware infrastructure. 

However, hybrid cloud environments are more complex than traditional IT infrastructures and integrating and managing different cloud platforms, on-premises infrastructure, and third-party services require specialized skills and expertise.

What Is a Hybrid Cloud Network?

A hybrid cloud network combines two or more distinct cloud computing environments, such as a public cloud, private cloud, or on-premises infrastructure, into a single, cohesive system.

A hybrid cloud network allows organizations to leverage the advantages of different cloud deployment models, such as the scalability and cost-effectiveness of public cloud services, while also maintaining control over critical data and applications in their private cloud or on-premises infrastructure. By integrating these environments, organizations can create a more flexible, agile, and resilient network that can adapt to changing business needs and market conditions.

Tight integration is the key to a successful hybrid cloud network. In a hybrid cloud network, the public and private cloud environments are connected through a secure and dedicated network, enabling seamless communication and data transfer between them. Interconnectivity between environments is typically established using a local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), virtual private network (VPN), and application programming interfaces (APIs). This allows organizations to move workloads and data between environments as needed, providing greater agility and cost efficiency.

Virtualization is a key technology for the deployment and management of hybrid cloud networks. Virtualization allows organizations to abstract and virtualize physical infrastructure resources, such as servers, storage, and networking, into virtual machines (VMs) or containers that can be easily managed, migrated, and replicated across different cloud environments.

What Is Hybrid Cloud Network Architecture?

The architecture of a hybrid cloud network may vary depending on the specific needs and goals of an organization, but typically includes the following components.

  • The cloud management platform, which is the central management layer that enables control and management of the hybrid cloud environment, including resource allocation, deployment, monitoring, and scaling.
  • The private cloud, which is the on-premises data center or dedicated cloud environment used by the organization to host critical applications and data that require high levels of security and control.
  • The public cloud, which is the third-party cloud environment that provides scalable and cost-effective computing resources, such as storage, compute, and networking, that run workloads that are less sensitive or not protected by compliance regulations.
  • Network connectivity, the secure and dedicated network that connects and integrates the private and public cloud environments, enabling data and workload migration between the two. A hybrid cloud network should employ tools and strategies that view the network end-to-end using a network management system that functions as a single pane of glass, visualizing the whole network from a single computer screen.
  • Cloud gateway, which is the entry point to the hybrid cloud network, allowing external users and applications to access resources hosted in the private and public cloud environment.
  • Security controls, which ensure the security and compliance of the hybrid cloud environment, including firewalls, identity and access management, encryption, and monitoring.

Advantages of Hybrid Cloud Networking

A hybrid cloud network allows organizations to leverage the advantages of different cloud deployment models to offer the following benefits:

  • Scalability: Hybrid cloud networking offers almost limitless scalability and flexibility to organizations. It allows them to quickly and easily scale up or down their computing resources, depending on their business needs, helping organizations to reduce their costs while maintaining high levels of performance and availability. 
  • Workload management: Hybrid cloud networking allows organizations to choose the best environment for each workload based on factors such as performance, security, compliance, and cost. 
  • Security: Within a hybrid cloud environment, the private cloud can be used to host sensitive data and applications, while public clouds can be used to handle non-sensitive workloads. Additionally, hybrid cloud networking allows organizations to implement additional security controls, such as encryption, access controls, and network segmentation, to protect their data and applications.
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity: Hybrid cloud networking enables organizations to implement disaster recovery and business continuity plans more effectively. By replicating data and applications across private and public clouds, organizations can ensure that their critical systems remain available even in the event of a disaster or outage. Organizations can quickly and easily switch between environments, ensuring that business operations can continue uninterrupted.
  • Cost savings: By using public clouds for non-sensitive workloads, organizations can take advantage of the cost-effective, pay-as-you-go model offered by public cloud providers, reducing the need for additional on-premises hardware and personnel.

Disadvantages of Hybrid Cloud Networking

While hybrid cloud networking offers many benefits, potential disadvantages include:

  • Performance and latency challenges: Hybrid cloud networking can introduce limitations related to functionality, particularly when it comes to ensuring compatibility and interoperability across different cloud environments. Applications and workloads that run well in one cloud environment may not function as well in another environment, which can impact performance and user experience. Additionally, hybrid cloud networking may introduce latency issues, especially when applications and data are spread across multiple cloud environments.
  • Increased complexity: Integrating and maintaining multiple cloud environments, as well as ensuring seamless communication between them, can be challenging and require specialized skills and tools. This complexity can increase the risk of errors and downtime, which can impact the availability and performance of critical applications and data.  
  • Hidden costs: Implementing a hybrid cloud network may require significant new investment in updated hardware, software, and network infrastructure, as well as ongoing maintenance, support, and licensing fees. Organizations also need to consider the cost of integrating and managing multiple cloud environments, which can be more expensive than managing a single-cloud environment.

Considerations for Hybrid Cloud Networks

Designing and implementing a hybrid cloud network requires careful consideration of multiple factors, as well as a thorough understanding of the organization's current and future needs and resources. Each of the following elements should be discussed and examined while developing a hybrid cloud network strategy.

  • Develop a management plan. Be sure to have the right tools, skills, and resources in place to support the network effectively, including monitoring and optimizing performance, ensuring security and compliance, and managing costs and processes.
  • Implement multiple layers of security. Hybrid cloud networks can introduce additional security risks, as data and applications are spread across multiple environments. Organizations need to ensure they have the right security controls and monitoring mechanisms in place to protect against threats and vulnerabilities, including securing network connections, managing access and authentication, and encrypting data in transit and at rest.
  • Design for stability. Perform load and stress tests to determine which behaviors or loads make workloads reliable or unstable. Implement redundancy and failover mechanisms to protect continuity of service even in the event of failures or disruptions in one or more cloud environments.
  • Maximize functionality. Ensure that applications in the public cloud meet business requirements and work as intended, including tests of the user experience. Check that performance is consistent across all cloud environments by ensuring compatibility and interoperability between the system’s private and public clouds.
  • Optimize for a range of workloads. Hybrid cloud networks should accommodate diverse types of workloads and applications, including both traditional and cloud-native workloads. This helps ensure that the network can handle a mix of on-premises, private cloud, and public cloud workloads, and that resources can be easily allocated and managed across different environments.
  • Build to scale. Ensure that the network is scalable and can handle increased traffic and demand as workloads grow, and that resources can be easily scaled up or down across different cloud environments.

How to Secure Your Hybrid Cloud Network

Organizations can ensure that their hybrid cloud network is secure and protected against threats and vulnerabilities by taking the following steps.

  • Implement a comprehensive security program. This includes putting in place controls, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and malware protection, to protect against threats and vulnerabilities. It also involves regular penetration testing and auditing the network for security weaknesses and ensuring that security policies are up-to-date and effective.
  • Encrypt data. By encrypting data in transit and at rest, organizations can protect against data breaches and unauthorized access into their hybrid cloud network. Encryption can be implemented using a variety of tools and techniques, including VPNs, SSL/TLS certificates, and data encryption solutions.
  • Store sensitive data carefully. Organizations should carefully consider where they store sensitive data in a hybrid cloud environment. This will likely include keeping highly sensitive data on-premises, while storing less sensitive data in the public cloud environment. Restrict lateral movement within the network to prevent an attacker with unauthorized access from gaining access to other parts of the system.
  • Manage access: This includes implementing mechanisms such as multi-factor authentication and role-based access control, and regularly monitoring and auditing access logs to detect and respond to suspicious activity. It also involves ensuring that user accounts are properly managed and de-provisioned when no longer needed.

How Can F5 Help?

F5 products and services can help organizations address key networking, security, and application performance challenges in a hybrid cloud environment. By leveraging F5 solutions, organizations can provide simple and secure connectivity across their hybrid cloud network, ensure consistent application performance, and manage network traffic across multiple cloud environments and multiple cloud providers