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Why implementing a hybrid cloud should be your New Year’s resolution

Many retailers have adjusted to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by committing to online-only sales and expanded sales periods.

This trend, coupled with the increasing reliance of digital technology for common activities, places retailers under a lot of pressure to ensure that they are utilizing the correct technologies to create a positive user experience. The technologies used to facilitate the boom in e-commerce are heavily reliant on the cloud.

There are two types of cloud services - public cloud and private cloud. Public cloud refers to a cloud service that is offered to multiple customers by a cloud service provider while ensuring that each customer’s data and applications running in the cloud remain hidden from other customers. Private cloud refers to a cloud service that is still offered by a cloud service provider, but is not shared with any other organization. The private cloud user has it to themselves.

Both types of cloud services have benefits. For example, public cloud is cost-effective, as it usually comes with flexible price structures. Public cloud is also easy to set up, as a public cloud service can often be purchased online and deployed and configured remotely through the cloud provider’s website.

Meanwhile, benefits of private cloud include more control and accessibility (as private cloud platforms are usually hosted either on-site or in a third-party data center); and an advanced level of security, as all data is saved and managed on servers to which no other company has access. However, both types of cloud service has its unique pros and cons, and many times where one cloud service lacks, the other is stronger, which brings us to hybrid cloud solutions.

A hybrid cloud solution is the combination of public and private cloud, allowing data and applications to be shared between them. Hybrid cloud includes some key features and benefits that make the combination of the two types of cloud services exceptional. These include data integration, whereby a company’s data is synchronized across its public and private cloud infrastructure.

Hybrid cloud advantages also include merged management, or the ability to manage data on both cloud services via one overarching tool; as well as flexibility for planning, or utilizing both types of cloud services to enable preparedness for any technical advances that may be required for growth.

Hybrid cloud for the retail audience
A hybrid cloud solution is beneficial for retailers who are trying to adapt to meet changing business needs in this unprecedented time. A recent report found that 87.5% of retailers identified hybrid cloud as the ideal IT operating model. The necessity for seamless user experience means that the benefits and abilities of hybrid cloud is critical to them to win new customers and retain existing ones. Hybrid cloud brings with it the agility and security that retailers require in an increasingly digital industry, as well as efficient use with Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

Hybrid cloud and remote work, IoT
Aside from the retail-specific trends I have reviewed, 2020 brought with it some new trends that will most likely spill over into 2021. The biggest being the boom in remote working: Since Q1 2020, the number of remote workers has continued to rapidly increase and is set to double in 2021. A hybrid cloud solution enables companies to be prepared for whatever may come with a remote workforce.

Having employees work remotely from home, coffee shops, or wherever else they may be can cause issues with connectivity and security. Implementing a hybrid cloud solution allows companies to effectively deploy programs and technologies to their remote workforce via the cloud, compensating for any connectivity and security issues that an employee’s remote work setup may have.

Another trend from 2020 that will carry over to 2021 is the growing reliance on IoT and machine learning. In 2020, spending on IoT technologies grew from $83.9 billion to $1.29 trillion and the market value is expected to grow to $124 billion in 2021, while the machine learning (ML) market grew to $7.3 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow to $30.6 billion by 2024.

More industries are making use of these technologies, with more homes investing in items that connect with this type of tech (think Google Home, Amazon Alexa, etc.). On top of that, IoT technologies are helping people continue with their professional responsibilities as well as personally stay connected. Having a hybrid cloud solution via cloud service provider allows companies to ensure that they can always make the best of IoT and ML.

Implementing an environment that is a mixture of both private and public cloud means that these technologies can be connected to whichever cloud infrastructure is the best for each company’s unique needs.

Lex Boost is CEO of Leaseweb USA.

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