What is Hybrid Cloud?

Hybrid cloud is a type of IT architecture that is made up of systems, services, and applications located in two or more computing environments, including public cloud(s) and private cloud(s). A hybrid cloud may also use a mix of on-premises infrastructure or a virtual environment along with one or more public cloud or private cloud-based services.

Gartner defines hybrid cloud as, "A cloud computing service composed of some combination of private, public, and community cloud services, from different service providers."

Hybrid cloud vs. hybrid IT

Hybrid cloud is a subset of the hybrid IT model, which is defined as a type of IT environment consisting of infrastructure, services, and applications, located within an organization's on-premises data center, as well as in one or more private cloud(s) and public cloud(s).

Hybrid cloud vs. multi-cloud

While you may find that some individuals use hybrid cloud and multi-cloud interchangeably, they are in fact two different things. A multi-cloud environment is one in which an organization uses two or more public cloud infrastructure services, such as Microsoft Azure and AWS. Conversely, a hybrid cloud deployment can utilize a mix of both public and private clouds.

Why hybrid cloud?

Cloud adoption is rapidly increasing as organizations embrace digital transformation to improve agility and efficiency and reduce costs. According to research by Forrester, more than half of businesses plan to adopt or expand their use of hybrid cloud infrastructures in the next two years. The path to cloud adoption is unique to every organization, as their starting points vary widely and so do their specific needs and desired outcomes.

Many businesses have critical legacy applications still running on-premises and sometimes these applications simply cannot be deployed in a cloud. At the same time, these companies are incorporating a mix of private and public clouds, also known as hybrid cloud, as a key element of their migration strategy. Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines hybrid as, "having or produced by a combination of two or more distinct elements." This is true of hybrid cloud. It enables organizations to bring together public and private clouds to serve the needs of the business.

Benefits of hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud strategies support digital transformation by enabling organizations to seamlessly move to the cloud at their own pace. Because you can choose which environment to use for what applications, it supports a phased approach to cloud migration. You get the privacy, control, and data residency of on-premises, plus the agility, flexibility, and scalability of cloud computing.

Hybrid cloud helps organizations realize cost efficiencies by leveraging the investments already made in on-premises infrastructures. The flexibility of the cloud allows organizations to scale elastically to create server instances on the fly to address seasonality and spikes in demand without significant capital investments. Instead of building costly on-premises data centers to accommodate demand spikes, the business pays only for the cloud capacity used. In addition, it eliminates costs associated with deploying and maintaining on-premises hardware.

Challenges with hybrid cloud

As enterprises evolve to embrace a hybrid cloud strategy, they are leveraging the environments — public and private clouds in combination — that best serve the needs of their businesses, including their ability to deliver applications and a great digital experience to customers. This results in a few challenges.

One of the most significant challenges that organizations face with a hybrid cloud environment is siloed identities. Hybrid architectures typically include a variety of legacy systems, home-grown technologies, and cloud services . Unfortunately, neither on-premises nor cloud-only identity and access management (IAM) solutions are designed to securely address the other environment, as they support different standards and offer different identity lifecycle management capabilities.

Spreading digital identities across disparate environments creates challenges on several fronts. Disjointed IAM systems impede the ability of an organization to provide a seamless user experience and create obstacles for achieving business agility and delivering innovative systems and services to employees and customers. Siloed IAM also impedes visibility, making it difficult, if not impossible, to identify, understand, and mitigate high-privilege and high-risk access across the organization. This can lead to duplication of identities and over-privileged access, both of which raise the potential of data breaches that can result in remediation expenses, legal fees, fines, and public damage to the organization's reputation.

To unify all identities — employees, contractors, customers, devices, and things — across all digital services requires eliminating these silos and closing security gaps. To achieve this unification, organizations are turning to hybrid IAM.

Hybrid cloud and IAM considerations

Every organization's cloud transformation journey is unique. Adopting a hybrid cloud architecture provides the flexibility to customize your implementation to address your current needs and future plans to deliver the desired business outcomes.

It is essential to find a cloud identity provider that offers a comprehensive, full-featured hybrid IAM platform capable of delivering the same experiences and outcomes across all implementation options — on-premises, in any cloud, as-a-service, or a combination thereof. A hybrid IAM solution should include enterprise-grade identity management, access management, and identity governance capabilities. And it should be capable of managing every identity across your organization.

The ForgeRock Identity Platform is a comprehensive hybrid IAM platform. Delivered with a single subscription through ForgeRock Identity Cloud, organizations can deploy the complete platform as-a-service in any cloud with the additional option of self-managed software deployed anywhere. With ForgeRock, organizations enable frictionless user experiences and provide uncompromising identity-driven security for all users, devices, applications, workloads, and services across their business.

What is hybrid IAM

Hybrid IAM is an IAM platform capable of running, managing, unifying, and securing all digital identities across a hybrid cloud environment, including on-premises, public cloud, and private cloud environments.

Benefits of hybrid IAM

Hybrid IAM delivers a single IAM platform that enables organizations to seamlessly centralize and manage all identities across any environment and supports SaaS, home-grown, and legacy applications.

Hybrid IAM allows organizations to balance costs and the needs of the organization, and determine what will be run on-premises and what will be run in the cloud. It provides the flexibility to migrate to cloud infrastructure at a pace that aligns with the organization's objectives, strategy, and timeline, without worrying about additional IAM costs, such as migration and maintenance.

Organizations can significantly improve the user experience by leveraging a hybrid IAM platform to unify siloed identity information. Such a platform allows organizations to deliver a consistent and seamless user experience for all identities — employees or customers, IoT devices, applications, or services — at scale, regardless of where the identity is located within the hybrid cloud environment.

Hybrid IAM enables organizations to rapidly adopt a Zero Trust strategy to deliver uncompromised security. Adding user and device context to authentication enables organizations to continually authorize every transaction, which supports least-privileged access and enhances security. By adding full user lifecycle management, you can centralize identities and improve audit and compliance.

Related Products & Solutions

ForgeRock Identity Platform

ForgeRock Identity Cloud

IAM for Hybrid IT