By now, every business should be using cloud computing. This technology is no longer an emerging option limited only to adventurous early adopters - it's an everyday part of the IT landscape. Indeed, Flexera's 2022 State of the Cloud report revealed over half of organizations surveyed are planning to migrate even more workloads to cloud infrastructure.
This should mean that most businesses will be familiar and comfortable with the basics of cloud computing, such as the difference between public and private clouds and the pros and cons of each. But as more services shift to the cloud, the environment is becoming more complicated, and this may mean enterprises have to rethink their approach, move away from ad-hoc deployments and develop a more coherent cloud strategy.
What is hybrid cloud infrastructure?
Hybrid cloud, as has been traditionally defined, refers to cloud environments that use more than one deployment method. In other words, it consists of both public and private clouds in the same ecosystem, but delivered by the same provider.
Organizations with hybrid clouds are empowered to synchronize workloads between connected environments, manage processes over various applications and exert a higher level of control over resources and IT systems.
Benefits of hybrid cloud storage
The most obvious advantage of a hybrid cloud is agility, which is paramount for any digital business that needs to change direction or adapt quickly. There’s a significant cost required to configure a hybrid cloud system, but it does come with many benefits that make it a good investment. Some of the key advantages include:
- Apps and data are accessible to remote workers
- No need to build data centers in countries you operate in
- Affordable data storage options, increasing scalability
- Allows for portable apps, improving disaster recovery and continuity
- Supports greater standardization in management practices
What is multi-cloud infrastructure?
Multi-cloud, by contrast, refers to scenarios where businesses are running more than one cloud solution under the same deployment model but from different vendors - so using public cloud services from both AWS and Microsoft for specific workloads, for example.
These solutions are generally built on open-source, cloud-native technologies that are supported by all providers. Often, they facilitate workloads across various clouds with one central console, also known as a ‘single pane of glass’.
Of course, it's still entirely possible to run both a multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environment simultaneously - for instance, using two public clouds and a single private cloud. This may sometimes be referred to as a hybrid multi-cloud.
Benefits of multi-cloud storage
The most significant benefit of choosing a multi-cloud infrastructure is that it eliminates issues that arise from being stuck with a single vendor, including fewer options, performance issues and unnecessary costs. Other advantages include:
- Ability to pick and choose the best technologies from different vendors
- Allows for a tailored cloud service based on pricing, security and performance
- Reduces the impact of outages as when one cloud is affected, others might not be
- Supports data management as users don’t need an on-premises data center
5 crucial similarities and differences between multi-cloud and hybrid cloud
Some may argue that the difference between the two lies largely in semantics, but this is not the case. As multi-cloud's key definition is the use of several cloud services from different providers, this creates a very different cloud environment than a hybrid cloud that uses public and private options from the same provider, which are designed to integrate with each other.
This means that hybrid cloud environments will typically be easier to manage, both from a technical perspective and a business one, as a company will only have to work with a single provider. It's also a more tried-and-tested solution and gives businesses the flexibility they need, allowing them to select public and private services based on their need.
There are several similarities between multi-cloud and hybrid cloud deployments. Here are some of the key aspects they both share:
- Infrastructure that allows for the storage of sensitive data
- Providers take on the responsibility to protect against external threats
- Migrating data to the cloud is complex
- Regulatory compliance is paramount for both providers
- Offers organizations scalability and flexibility
However, there are also some important differences, such as:
- Multi-clouds only involve public clouds, whereas hybrid includes public and private
- Hybrid uses various components running in sync, but multi-cloud has different clouds operating separate tasks
- Multi-cloud facilitates vendor independence, hybrid promotes ‘vendor lock-in’
- Maintaining availability is much easier with multi-cloud - 24/7 availability relies on in-house teams with hybrid solutions
- Companies using hybrid clouds face significant costs, whereas multi-cloud doesn’t require you to pay for data centers
Multi-cloud vs hybrid cloud: Which cloud strategy to choose based on your needs?
Finding the right cloud deployment for your business comes down to several factors. In terms of cost, public clouds are generally cheaper to configure than other infrastructures, which means a multi-cloud model often requires a smaller overhead. The provider is responsible for maintaining servers and commissioning updates, which removes those tasks from you.
When it comes to security, a hybrid cloud strategy combines the privacy and assurances of on-premises infrastructure with the scalability of a public cloud. If your business handles highly classified information, private clouds minimize the risk of data loss and breaches via unauthorized access.
Whether you're inclined to go with a hybrid or multi-cloud infrastructure, migrating your data and apps to the cloud can be a very complex and time-consuming process. For some businesses, it may not be viable to carry out a full migration, in which case a hybrid strategy would have to suffice.
One reason for the growth of interest in multi-cloud is that it can enable businesses to create a more bespoke environment that suits their exact needs.
Being able to use different cloud solutions from multiple providers allows businesses to better meet specific workload needs and deliver better results. As every cloud provider will have its own performance guarantees, being able to select the one that best matches the needs of a particular workload ensures businesses can gain access to the most appropriate resources for their needs.
Multi-cloud strategies may be particularly useful for large enterprises with a global presence, as it allows them to choose local providers around the world in order to reduce latency, and it can also avoid issues such as vendor lock-in and reduce the risk of potential outages by eliminating a single point of failure.
Issues associated with hybrid cloud and multi-cloud
Multi-cloud isn't without its challenges, and many of these arise from the inherent difficulties involved in managing several independent clouds from different vendors. As well as having to deal with various contracts and requirements, work will have to be done in order to ensure that the solutions are able to communicate effectively with each other.
Choosing the right vendors is therefore a vital step in a successful multi-cloud strategy, but companies may also need to consider using a specialized cloud management service to help maintain control of all their clouds. While such services can streamline environments using several providers, it may also limit the features companies are able to access, so they must determine if this is a trade-off worth making.
As cloud becomes the standard way of doing business for many enterprises, it will be inevitable that the number of services in use grows. Therefore, it's important that businesses understand all the various terminology involved in this area in order to make informed decisions about what the best approach will be for their needs.
When it comes to picking the right cloud infrastructure for your business, it’s not always a straightforward choice. That’s why it’s crucial to analyze your needs before making a decision. Generally, organizations looking to transform their processes and scale can benefit from a multi-cloud solution, whereas a more robust company may be more suited to a hybrid cloud approach. Ultimately, no two businesses are the same and each has its own specific needs.
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