Hybrid Cloud v/s Multi-Cloud: Difference and Benefits

Cloud Jul 06, 2020

There is much confusion about the constituents of the hybrid cloud and a multi-cloud. Generally, they are used interchangeably. Let’s understand in detail the difference between the two.

What is Hybrid Cloud?

In simple terms, the combination of on-premise infrastructure (Private Cloud) with Public Cloud is called Hybrid Cloud. Another name for Hybrid Cloud is Hybrid IT.

What is Multi-Cloud?

Multi-cloud is a form of hybrid cloud, but it’s a specialized term used for multiple different public cloud environments. Not using Multi-Cloud leads to vendor lock-in. Using a multi-cloud is usually a part of a strategy to avoid lock-in with a single cloud vendor.

Difference between Hybrid Cloud and Multi-Cloud

So now that we have understood the difference, let’s see which cloud is suitable for which scenario.

An important thing to understand is that the ‘right’ cloud solution for businesses is neither public nor private, but both. This leads to the conclusion that running a hybrid cloud is a solution. But, leveraging multiple types of cloud services i.e Multi-cloud is a new deployment model that is getting famous these days.

Realizing that the cloud is no longer a singular noun the term “multi-cloud” came into existence. Companies now run multiple clouds, in different ways to address multiple use-cases.

While these terms make sense intuitively, there are multiple questions associated with these terms. Is there a difference really in multi-cloud deployment and hybrid cloud or it is just an IT marketing buzzword?

An organization uses multiple different cloud services, from different public cloud providers in a multi-cloud solution. The main aim to use different clouds for various tasks is to achieve best-of-breed results. It also removes vendor lock-in.

The way finance has a different need than software development and delivery and different cloud solutions can address those needs more effectively. Using services from different cloud providers also gives organizations the satisfaction and peace of mind by reducing the dependency on any one cloud service provider, which ultimately decreases cost and gives high flexibility.

Whatever the reason for their multi-cloud strategy, organizations end up operating in combination with on-premise physical or private cloud infrastructure. In other words, a multi-cloud strategy starts with taking services from various public cloud providers but also sometimes include some on-premise deployments.

The hybrid cloud approach combines private and public clouds to achieve the same goal.

Hybrid Cloud differs from multi-cloud in the following ways

  1. Hybrid always includes private and public, while multi-cloud always includes multiple public clouds but can also incorporate physical and virtual infrastructure (including private clouds).
  2. Unlike a multi-cloud model, in which different clouds are used for different tasks, the components of a hybrid cloud typically work together. As a result, data and processes tend to intermingle and intersect in a hybrid environment, while in a multi-cloud situation, usage typically remains in its “own” cloud’s silo.

Let’s understand this with an example.

What does an application running in a Hybrid Cloud framework look like? It could use load balancing, web, and application services from a public cloud while the database and storage live in a private cloud. It has compute resources that perform the same function in both a private and a public cloud and may swap how much compute is used in either cloud-based on load and cost.

An application in a multi-cloud environment that is not hybrid, on the other hand, may run all compute and networking activities in AWS while using database services from Azure. In this multi-cloud environment, some applications leverage resources only in Azure while separate applications use resources only in AWS; or, applications may use resources only in the public cloud while others leverage resources only in the private cloud.

Now let’s understand the benefits of using them individually.

Benefits of Multi-Cloud

1. Ability to Find the Best-in-Class Multi-Cloud Providers

Incorporating a multi-cloud strategy in an organization enables administrators to choose the best cloud hosting provider for that specific task. Instead of doing adjustments based on the cloud provider you have the capability to choose the best among the various options available.

2. Competitive Pricing

The availability of different cloud providers helps in creating a competitive market and avoid monopoly that offers optimal pricing for different resources. Keeping this in mind, organizations can now enjoy the freedom of comparing different providers and procuring the best available rates based on their specific IT requirements.

3. Robust Security

Since cloud providers are themselves responsible for the security of their infrastructure, they can ensure that your organization has all the necessary capabilities for protecting your data as well. However, the security of your network must be assessed on a regular basis due to the regular change in your software.

4. Agility

Planning a multi-cloud strategy is not an easy task. Many traditional companies still struggle with legacy IT systems, on-premise structures, and hardware suppliers which makes the migration troublesome. They are often dependent on different service providers to deliver the necessary expertise for adopting multi-cloud infrastructures as there is not much skill in the inhouse team.

Benefits of Hybrid Cloud

1. Scalability

A hybrid cloud environment can provide the opportunity for businesses to scale out to a cloud environment for specific workloads. Implementing automation rules on the cloud provides the ability to scale resources up and down as business demands change.

2. Increased Speed To Market

In many organizations, speed to market is very important for the business. In a digital age, the ability to quickly spin up environments to test, prototype and launch new products is highly desirable. For organizations with an IT infrastructure that is working near or close to capacity, spinning up a new environment can become a challenge and potentially hinder the business.

3. Improved Connectivity

When moving components of your business to the cloud there can be problems deriving from network performance that impact critical applications. This can be difficult to prevent, especially during peak traffic periods and is a result of irregular public internet performance.

4. Control

One of the key benefits of implementing a hybrid cloud solution is control. Rather than outsourcing all aspects of IT infrastructure to a third-party cloud provider, companies can customize the private end of their hybrid cloud model based on their needs and adjust them accordingly as they see fit.

While the terminology is complicated, both models offer organizations the precision to provide business services in an efficient and effective way. So, while planning for cloud adoption for any workload, or while migrating to a new cloud, you must consider various pros and cons associated with the traditional approaches as well as the new practices.

Conclusion

Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud may have similar attributes, but at the operational level, there are several differences.

  • Hybrid clouds require more focus on the native operational tools while multi-cloud requires focus and investment on third-party tools.
  • In multi-cloud, the responsibility is shared among the cloud provider and the organization.
  • In the hybrid cloud, you have more responsibility and control over the data and its security.

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Simran Malhotra

Co-Founder at PeerXP

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