I wrote recently about the truth behind the current Cloud Computing hype that seems to be taking over the IT world. In my post I touched on a concept called a ‘Hybrid’ network.
In my experience, a hybrid network design is rapidly becoming the standard approach to business networks, whether it bears the label or not, so based on some questions and comments that I’ve had from my recent post, I thought I’d take a moment to explore the hybrid idea a bit further.
The Best of Both Worlds
In essence, a hybrid network is one that relies on a combination of cloud based services, as well as more traditional in-house computing resources. It’s an approach that is rapidly becoming more sophisticated in its execution as the technology evolves (in some cases to specifically support hybrid deployments). It’s an approach that lets us deploy ‘best in class’ solutions for each of the business’ needs, without being constrained to one particular service delivery model.
Perhaps the best way of exploring this idea further is by way of a current example. We are current working with a Brisbane based engineering firm to replace their aging Microsoft Small Business Server based network.
The Microsoft Office 365 cloud suite is going to play a key role in the new solution, primarily to provide Exchange email and SharePoint Online services in the cloud. The change to cloud based Exchange email is going to be largely transparent to the users, albeit with some improvements such as substantially larger mailbox size.
Microsoft SharePoint Online is going to be a brand new system for the business, and one which we are expecting to make a substantial difference to their document management and collaboration work.
In-house File Storage
The point at which a hybrid network becomes so attractive in this instance is when we consider the client’s file storage requirements. Being an engineering firm, the staff work with a large volume of often very large files, a situation that currently lends itself more to in-house file storage than cloud based file storage. The solution here is to install a small server in-house running on the Windows Server Essentials 2012 product, and tightly integrate it with their cloud based Microsoft Office 365 services.
Apart from providing various ‘behind the scenes’ services that we need such as Active Directory, this in-house server will house the client’s primary file storage to ensure fast, responsive access to the large working files.
There are some potential down sides to using in-house storage (just as there is with cloud storage), but on balance in this case the benefits outweigh the limitations. The users will end up with the level of service and features that they need, without needing to know whether something is cloud based, or in-house, due to the tight integration of the two.
A hybrid solution such as this brings the advantages of the latest cloud based technology while also ensuring that the business continues to have access to those network services that are best kept in-house.