The hybrid cloud refers to the interplay of the two variants of public and private cloud. The hybrid cloud thus corresponds to a services environment consisting of private cloud services and public cloud services. It therefore combines the advantages of both types of cloud. In addition, the three models IaaS, PaaS and SaaS can be used within the hybrid cloud (see Fig. 1).

Figure. 1: Summary of the three models
(Source: Lindner et al. 2020)

Private Cloud vs. Public Cloud

To understand how exactly the hybrid cloud works, it is first necessary to know the characteristics of its basic components.

Private Cloud (own server)

  • Focus on security
  • full possibility of adaptation
  • own control

Public Cloud (a provider’s server)

  • low costs
  • Possibility of flexible billing
  • high scalability

Building the Hybrid Cloud

For medium and large enterprises, it is often useful to combine both types of cloud in terms of low costs and high scalability (see Fig. 2).

Figure. 2: Interaction in the hybrid cloud
(Source: Lindner et al. 2020)

For example, you can store less critical company data in a public cloud such as Amazon or Google. Highly sensitive data, on the other hand, can be secured in your own private cloud by purchasing your own hardware.

Private Cloud

In the private cloud, companies can purchase their own hardware, for example. Data such as secret strategies or customer-specific information. You can then customize and encrypt your own cloud, so that future data abuse by a provider is excluded. An example of such a private cloud is the open source solution ownCloud.

Public Cloud

Often, however, there is also less critical data in companies, such as within projects. To make these project efforts less costly and quick, you can use a public cloud like Google or Amazon, where a similar data storage service is booked or set up on a server.

Public access typically manages the public cloud from an external provider. This not only eliminates the purchase of expensive hardware, but also eliminates costs only after actual use of service expenses or on the basis of a pre-arranged tariff model. This makes the public cloud not only comparatively cost-effective, but also extremely flexible.

Interaction within the hybrid cloud

The hybrid cloud is so popular in many companies, especially because requirements for the IT infrastructure can usually only be implemented on their own servers in a complex and cost-intensive manner. The hybrid cloud, on the other hand, can save high costs through its public shares. In addition, the mixing of clouds is also much more flexible and scalable, and can easily meet even short-term requirements within resource management.

Organizations often face the problem of having their own resources firmly defined on servers and unable to use them during idle time. As a result, short-term increases can rarely be reacted to quickly enough, which in turn can lead to poor customer service. Instead, the hybrid cloud gives companies much more flexibility and a much faster response time (see Figure 3).

Figure. 3: Difference in resource utilization of cloud solutions
(Source: Lindner et al. 2020)

The following three examples will explain what the realisation of such a hybrid cloud can look like.

Example 1: File sharing

In many companies, data storage and exchange solutions are needed to store data (file sharing). The order structure of a file sharing can be used as in Fig. 4 to look displayed.

Figure. 4: Folder structure of a hybrid cloud file sharing solution
(Source: Lindner et al. 2020)

Uncritical test environments and public flyers are automatically stored in the public cloud and critical customer data and internal projects are stored in the private cloud. The responsible employees only have to back up the respective data in the appropriate folder. They can implement this in their own data storage solution, such as ownCloud, which is pre-installed on company servers, in conjunction with a public SaaS solution such as Dropbox.

Example 2: Software Usage

But a hybrid cloud can also offer significant value in the area of software usage, e.g. in the form of an image of the internal operational software. For example, you can Field workers store their less critical data-costing, SaaS-powered public cloud. However, data protection-critical applications such as the enterprise resource planning tool can be operated on their own servers, i.e. a private cloud.

Example 3: Software Development

The third and final example is now about the use of the hybrid cloud in software development. This use of development services from the cloud comes, for example, Apps that offer their customers the service to compress photos through an upload feature. For this purpose, the photos are usually stored in the customer’s account first. By using a hybrid cloud, it would now be conceivable that the area with the complex and difficult to calculate compression of the images is mapped encrypted in the public cloud, e.g. by means of a booking of a public PaaS solution from Amazon. On the other hand, the storage and retrieval of customer data for the unique assignment of the photo can be done on the own private cloud, which also contains a PaaS solution. This approach to hybrid data storage is feasible using API interfaces.


It is clear that there are usually three ways to the cloud. Therefore, to combine the benefits and value of all three options, the decision to use the hybrid cloud is often recommended.

Although the hybrid cloud is objectively not an independent product, but rather corresponds to a kind of concept, it can nevertheless be individually adapted to the use cases in companies. All that is needed is to separate information into critical and non-critical data. Companies will then have the advantage that they can take difficult-to-implement self-measures such as: can be cost-effectively bypassed by the on-premise architecture. At the same time, in addition to good scalability, the hybrid cloud also offers the possibility to solve short-term resource problems thanks to its public components.

Tip: Read my new book: The way to the cloud at Springer Gabler or book me for a talk .


Lindner, D., Niebler, P., & Wenzel, M. (2020). The Way to the Cloud – A Guide for Entrepreneurs and Decision Makers. Heidelberg: Springer Gabler.

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